The College Football decade is ending. The new decade begins with the 2020 Outback Bowl. This Bowl game headlines an impressive slate on New Year’s Day. It is a yearly matchup that pits the SEC against the Big Ten. This year’s edition features the Auburn Tigers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. This will be the first meeting between the two teams. As one decade ends, another begins. Both teams hope to get the 2020 decade off to a good start. It can begin with a win on New Year’s Day.
The last time we saw the Auburn Tigers they were taking down their archrival, Alabama, in the Iron Bowl. Auburn held a 48-45 lead after a missed field goal by Joseph Bulovas. Despite the miss, Auburn still had to outsmart the Nick Saban dynasty. On fourth down, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn lined up in an offensive set. This confused Alabama and as the Crimson Tide were substituting, they were caught with 12 men on the field. The penalty gave the Tigers a first down and preserved the win. With the win, Auburn finished the 2019 season 9-3. The Tigers are making their fifth appearance in the Outback Bowl alltime. Auburn hopes to pick up their third win in this New Year’s Day Bowl.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota has been a Cinderella story in 2019. The Golden Gophers opened the season 8-0. They then played host to undefeated Penn State. This was the time to show the nation that Minnesota was for real. The Golden Gophers prevailed 31-26. The celebration was short-lived, because the following week, Minnesota lost to Iowa. The Golden Gophers still controlled their own destiny against Wisconsin in the final week of the regular season. The Badgers got the better of their rival. Wisconsin won the game and the Big Ten West Division by a final score of 38-17. Despite the loss, head coach PJ Fleck and his team have a lot to be proud of. They can still end the season on a high note. Minnesota will not only be facing Auburn for the first time, but this is their first appearance in the Outback Bowl. The Golden Gophers have won their last three bowl games. Coach Fleck and company hope to make it four bowl wins in a row at the conclusion of this New Year’s Day classic.
Each team is led by an established quarterback. Auburn is led by freshman quarterback Bo Nix. Nix leads the team with 2,366 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. The Minnesota offense is headed by sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan. Morgan has registered 2,975 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. Either quarterback can make the important plays when called upon. Whichever quarterback limits his mistakes will put his team in a position to win the game in the fourth quarter. With both impact players at the quarterback position, how do the opposing defenses prepare to stop them? On one hand, the defensive game plan can make other players beat you by taking the quarterback out of the offense. On the other hand, the game plan can be to force the quarterback to make mistakes to hurt their team. It will be interesting to see which approaches are taken, and which one is more effective.
Keys to Victory
This game ought to be a dandy to watch. As I have stated before, I feel these games will come down to the wire. I think all aspects of the game are toss-ups. Both teams have experienced coaches and players. They also have good defenses and special teams. I could see this game coming down to a last-minute drive by the two quarterbacks mentioned above. Nix and Morgan could put their team’s kickers in position for the game-winning field goal. Auburn has seen kicking come into play, in this bowl game, twice before. After the 2009 season, Auburn was on the right end of a fake field goal against Northwestern. However, after the 2014 season, Auburn’s Daniel Carlson missed a game-tying field goal in a loss to Wisconsin. Could this be the third time we see a last-second kick decide the Outback Bowl? It all comes your way on New Year’s Day. That’s Wednesday, January 1st at noon central. Let the decade begin with the 2020 Outback Bowl.
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