College Football Picks: Virginia Cavaliers vs. Auburn Tigers

Virginia Cavaliers vs. No. 25 Auburn Tigers
Saturday, 12/31/11, 7:30 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Auburn -1
Current Betting Line:  Auburn -2.5
Opening Total:  48.5
Current Total:  49
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Auburn Tigers Football
The Auburn Tigers may lack motivation in closing the 2011 season

Virginia will make its 18th bowl appearance and will look to improve upon its 7-10 all-time mark in the postseason.  The Cavaliers last played in a bowl game in 2008, dropping a 31-28 decision to the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Gator Bowl, blowing a 14-point fourth quarter lead.  These two teams have met just two times, with each proving victorious on its home field.  Virginia is 31-47-6 all-time against current members of the Southeastern Conference.  Over the last two-plus seasons, the team is 3-0 ATS after a bye week.

The Cavaliers possess a punishing rushing attack, averaging 165.3 yards per game, which is the second-highest for the program in the past 12 seasons.  Perry Jones finished the regular season with 883 rushing yards and needs just 117 to become the first player inside the program to rush for 1,000 yards since 2004.  Much of the success has been based on the same five players starting all 12 games this season.

Auburn may lack motivation in this particular bowl game due to winning the national title last year, as the program has posted a 21-13-2 all-time mark in the postseason.  Since the 1974 Gator Bowl, the Tigers are 16-6-1 in bowl games.  Head coach Gene Chizik will have his hands full on the sidelines, serving as defensive coordinator due to Ted Roof leaving the program and heading to Central Florida.  December success hasn’t been something the program has enjoyed, tallying an 18-23-2 all-time mark in the month.  Auburn is 4-9 ATS versus non-conference opponents the past two-plus years.

The Tigers have lost five games this season—all coming against teams currently ranked in the top 16 in the BCS standings.  Auburn’s defense definitely took a step backwards this year, surrendering 29.3 points and 405.8 total yards per game.  Offensively, the quarterback position is uncertain due to the play of a trio of signal-callers, but whoever is behind center will hand the ball off to Onterio McCalebb.  He ran for 532 yards and will start due to the suspension of star runner Michael Dyer.

Bettors will likely back the Cavaliers due to their 4-1 ATS mark in bowl games, while the Tigers are 1-7-1 ATS versus ACC opponents.

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