Last year’s bowl season was dramatically different for these 2 teams. Auburn was in the championship; Virginia was recovering from a losing season. This year the 2 teams meet in the final New Year’s Eve Bowl the Chick-fil-A Bowl, kicking off at 7:00 EST in the Georgia Dome. Here’s what I expect to happen:
Bowl Breakdown: Virginia’s turnaround under 2nd year coach Mike London is remarkable and they look to cap it off with a win over last year’s champion Auburn Tigers. The Cavaliers will have Sophomore QB Michael Rocco under center looking to bounce back from a tough outing against Virginia Tech in the regular season finale. Rocco barely had time to think in that game but has gotten good protection throughout the year as his O-line gave up only 15 sacks and helped VA to 165 rushing yards per game. While the Virginia offense has been ok, the defense has carried this team. They rank 32d in the country only allowing 22 points per game. The Auburn defense hasn’t been nearly as good. They struggled all year and finished 2nd to last in the SEC in points allowed (29 per game) and yards allowed (406 per game). The defensive coordinator has since left the program so the head coach has taken over the defense. On offense, the Tigers have no clear QB starter with 3 different possibilities and they’ve also suspended RB Michael Dyer who had another 1,000 yard solid season. With a defense that’s struggled and an offense without its best playmaker, I can’t see Auburn pulling this one out even in SEC territory in Atlanta. I’ll take Virginia for the (mild) upset win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Pro Prospects: Brandon Mosley-Aubun-OT: Mosley turned in another solid season and was named to the All-SEC 2nd team. He’ll probably go in the 3rd of 4th round depending on the pre-draf process…Josh Smith-Auburn-LS: The top long-snapper on most boards he could go in round 6 or 7…Oday Aboushi-VA-OT: He’s got solid pass-protecting technique and plays all the way to the whistle. He’ll probably go in the 3rd or 4th round to a team needing some extra depth up front…Cam Johnson-VA-DE: Johnson is a big powerful rusher off the edge who will terrorize whoever starts at QB for Auburn. He’s still a raw talent but will probably go in the late 2nd or early 3rd round and could develop into a great rusher in the right system… Chase Minnifield-VA-CB: Chase is the son of 4 time Pro-bowler Frank Minnifield who played cornerback for the Browns during the 80’s. Chase is much like his father and should excel on the next level. He’ll be a great pick in round 2. He has great ball skills, instincts, and many think he is the best zone cover corner in the draft.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our ongoing series for our Bowl Mania. You can find the same type of analysis for the Liberty, Kraft Fight Hunger, Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Music City, Pinstripe, Armed Forces, Alamo, Champs Sports, Holiday, Military, and the Sun Bowls. Or check out the Independence, Poinsettia, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Little Caesars, Belk, New Orleans, MAACO Las Vegas, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Idaho Potato Bowls to see how accurate our breakdown was.