Besides the program's second 10-win season in the last three years, there is not much on the line for the Tigers when they face Minnesota, a team that had its own playoff aspirations dashed toward the end of the season but is looking for its first 11-win season since 1904.
If the Tigers want to send the senior class off with a win and create momentum heading into the offseason, they will need to play loose like they did last year when walloping Purdue 63-14 in the Music City Bowl.
The defensive line trio of Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Big Kat Bryant, as well as the Tigers' linebackers, should be able to get consistent pressure on Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, who will operate behind a beefy offensive line that has allowed 30 sacks and 69 tackles for a loss this season. The Gophers' line is big, averaging 340 pounds, which includes huge right tackle Daniel Faalele, who comes in at 6-9, 400 pounds. While big, the Tigers quickness along the defensive line should keep Morgan on his toes all game long.
The Gophers feature two 1,000-yard receivers in Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson, so the Auburn defensive backfield will likely be challenged early and often and must keep the ball in front of them and not allow anything to be thrown over the top.
Minnesota's defense is solid, giving up 313 yards (123 rushing, 185 passing) and 22.4 points a game. The Gophers will be without their second-leading tackler as linebacker Kamal Martin (66 tackles) has decided to sit out the bowl game and prepare for the NFL Draft. The defense will still feature ballhawk Antoine Winfield Jr. who has seven interceptions, 83 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles on the season.
If the Tigers get a mistake-free game from Bo Nix, they should bring home the win. Auburn 45, Minnesota 17.