Auburn vs. Memphis Prediction, Birmingham Bowl Preview

    Auburn vs. Memphis prediction and 2016 Birmingham Bowl preview. Find out who's picked to win between the Tigers and the other Tigers.

    December 20, 2015

    The Birmingham Bowl is hoping to break attendance records with the nearby Auburn Tigers (6-6) and Memphis Tigers (9-3) playing at Legion Field. Check out the Auburn vs. Memphis prediction and game preview.


    Auburn vs. Memphis Game Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Wednesday, December 30
    Game Time: 12:00 ET
    Network: ESPN

    Follow and/or Contact @Rich Cirminiello 
     

    Why You Need To Care

    It’s the battle of the Tigers in a matchup that ought to have local appeal to fans in the region. This marks the first time in the 10-year anniversary of the Birmingham Bowl that both participating campuses are within a four-hour drive of Legion Field.

    For Memphis, 2015 was a tale of two very different seasons. At 8-0, the Tigers were Group of Five kingpins, stunning Ole Miss on Oct. 17 and debuting at No. 13 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. There was even chatter of a rogue playoff push from the team and a Heisman run by QB Paxton Lynch. But the program was exposed when the conference schedule stiffened, dropping three in a row to Navy, Houston and Temple to begin November. Still, head coach Justin Fuente, who’s taken the same gig at Virginia Tech, leaves Memphis in much better shape than when he arrived. Co-offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey will serve as the interim coach for this bowl game.

    For Auburn, yeah, it’s been one miserable campaign from start to finish. The Tigers were No. 6 in the country to start the year, one of a small handful of schools in the playoff discussion. But after opening with wins over Louisville and Jacksonville State, they were quickly exposed as a Top 25 fraud. Auburn went 2-6 in SEC play and defeated just a pair of FBS teams with winning records to set the stage for what could be a make-or-break year for Gus Malzahn in 2016. The Tigers won’t escape their rut in Birmingham, but they can tamp down this year’s pain a little by avoiding a losing season.

    Why Auburn Will Win

    It turns out that the Memphis defense wasn’t very good after all.

    The Tigers lost a lot of veterans from 2014. But after overachieving for a while, and beefing up the resume against soft competition, they were exposed in all phases during the three-game second-half losing streak. And while this is hardly a vintage Malzahn attack, Auburn should have success running the ball on an undersized Memphis front seven. The Tigers will use a pair of well-sized runners, Peyton Barber and Jovon Robinson, to soften up the interior. And the Auburn O-line, headed by LT Shon Coleman and RG Braden Smith, does a solid job of creating daylight and getting out to the second level.

    Why Memphis Will Win

    In the pursuit of offensive balance, these Tigers have a big edge on the ones from Auburn.

    Where Auburn has a glaring question mark at the most important position on the field, Memphis has a pro-caliber hurler. Paxton Lynch will attract plenty of scouts to the Birmingham Bowl for his 6-7 frame and arm talent. He’s the conductor of an offense averaging 42 points per game, comprised of eight different players that have scored at least three times. Plus, Lynch should have ample time to set his feet and check down his myriad receivers against a defense that’s 117th nationally in tackles for loss and 107th in sacks. Memphis has already knocked off one SEC West opponent, so it won’t be intimidated by this challenge.

    Player Who Matters

    The Auburn D, sans members of the coaching staff that are now at South Carolina, needs a big afternoon out of DE Carl Lawson.

    Lawson is the Tigers’ most talented defensive player. However, he spent a big chunk of the year rehabbing an injury, and it had a major impact on the team’s pass rush. Now healthy again, Lawson is hoping to be the edge player who was gearing up for an All-SEC sophomore campaign before going down. If the Tigers continue having problems getting off their blocks, Lynch is liable to carve up the secondary, with help from receivers Mose Frazier, Anthony Miller and Phil Mayhue.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    It’s been a long time since that upset of Ole Miss.

    Memphis has had a very nice season, one that brought national attention to the program. But that was more than two months—and one very influential coach—ago. Since then, the Tigers are 3-3, with wins over SMU, Tulane and Tulsa. True, Auburn has its own issues, and motivation won’t exactly be soaring. But the ability to run the ball with Robinson and Barber will help control the clock and keep the ball out of Lynch’s hands. For all of their mediocrity, it’s not as if the Tigers have been blown out much this year, despite facing a much tougher schedule than Memphis.

    Auburn vs. Memphis Prediction

    Final Score: Auburn 31, Memphis 28, Line: Auburn -2.5, o/u: 63.5
    Must See Rating: 5: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – 1: Property Brothers at Home on the Ranch …  3.5

    MORE: 10 Best College Football Bowl Games

    DOWNLOAD THE APP

    Have the full Stadium experience

    Watch with friends

    Get rewards

    Join the discussion