Auburn vs. UCF: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Prediction, Game Preview

Auburn vs. UCF: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Prediction, Game Preview

American Athletic

Auburn vs. UCF: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Prediction, Game Preview


Three reasons why you should watch the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.

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Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Auburn (10-3) vs. UCF (12-0)


Date: Monday, January 1st
Game Time: 12:30 pm
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Network: ESPN

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The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness
(1 best-39 worst): 
4 out of 39

2017-2018 Bowl Central: Schedules, Picks, Love
CFN Expert Consensus Confidence Picks

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

UCF is more than just this year’s Group of Five novelty act. It’s the only unbeaten team left in college football, and with a win, according to some metrics, it’ll finish in the top five, if not higher.

This is an explosive, fun team in the midst of a dream season that’s even more amazing than the Blake Bortles-led 12-1 run of 2013. Now the team is gunning for perfection.

If Auburn really, really cares about this, it has the talent and potential to pull off a big win for the program that would overcome last year’s clunker of a Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma. Desperately close to getting into the College Football Playoff, the Tigers will likely look and play with a lot more fight than they did in the SEC Championship loss to Georgia. They looked absolutely gassed, but that won’t be an issue if the motivation is there.

Can the Peach become the Group of Five’s new home? Western Michigan pushed Wisconsin in last year’s Cotton, and Boise State beat Arizona in the Fiesta when the College Football Playoff world got started, but it was Houston’s 38-24 win over Florida State in the 2015 Peach that set the bar. UCF really is good enough do the GOF a solid a few years later.

Here’s Why Auburn Will Win The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

There’s one problem with UCF’s season – it hasn’t faced a defense. Navy was great in the bowl win over Virginia, but come on. Maryland? Temple? FIU? USF? Yeah, the UCF offense might have been terrific, but it also did it against light and fluffy defensive fronts. The Auburn pass rush is about throw the Knights a few curveballs they won’t be able to hit.

Get ready for Jarrett Stidham. He struggled against Georgia in the SEC Championship, but he’s way too good to have two clunkers in a row. UCF couldn’t stop USF’s Quinton Flowers, and then it couldn’t deal with Memphis QB Riley Ferguson.

Its defense won’t be able to handle the Tiger sophomore who hit 67% of his passes with 17 scores, just four interceptions, and with four rushing touchdowns.

In its last two games, UCF has allowed 974 passing yards and eight touchdowns.

UCF will have to be perfect, and it won’t be. The Knights go out of their way to get flagged, penalized 8.4 times per game for around 68 yards. That can’t happen against a team with this pass rush on one side of the ball, and so much talent on the other – the Tigers don’t need second chances or any help.

By the way, Auburn led the SEC with the fewest penalties. The Tigers commit half as many as UCF for just 37 yards a game.

Here’s Why UCF Will Win The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

McKenzie Milton is the real deal. The UCF sophomore wasn’t in the Heisman chase, but he was just a shade behind Baker Mayfield among the nation’s most efficient passers, averaging 10.5 yards per attempt with 35 scores and nine picks.

He got a little mistake-happy late in the season, but he closed out with close to 3,800 yards through the air, ran for seven scores, and won a conference title.

Turnover margin means almost everything to UCF. The Knight defense came up with two more more turnovers nine times on the season, finishing at a walloping +15.

In the negative just twice, UCF was a -2 against SMU and the same against Memphis in the American Athletic title game. However, they won the conference championship on a late pick. Just assume the aggressive D will get the ball from Auburn at least twice. On the flip side …

Fumbling is a big, big problem for Auburn. Last in the SEC in the most fumbles lost, the Tigers have coughs it up 13 times with 17 turnovers on the season. The AU defense does its part to make up for the mistakes, but in a game like this, UCF needs to be at least at a +2. It’ll pounce on a few balls on the ground.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

– This is going to be weird. Scott Frost is the Nebraska head coach. He’s recruiting for Nebraska. He’s sizing up office furniture for Nebraska. He’s all about being the Nebraska head man now. However, he’s sticking around for this one last game to try helping his team finish what it started. That’s great, and that’s big for the fans, but Josh Heupel is the UCF head coach.

At the end of the day, bowl games aren’t that massive a deal, but for Gus Malzahn, this is a no-win situation. Beat UCF, and of course Auburn beat the Group of Five team. Lose, and Auburn is the team that lost to that Group of Five team.

Malzahn is 1-3 in bowl games since taking over the gig – but to be fair, one of those losses was in the 2014 BCS Championship.

Gus, don’t lose to the Group of Five team.

This is a moment. As we’ve seen with the College Football Playoff committee, it can be influenced by belief systems – it’s why an undeserving Alabama is in. UCF can’t clunk. The Knights really are trailblazers here for all the Group of Five programs who dream of possibly slipping into the top four. UCF didn’t have the schedule to earn a CFP spot, but this is the big shot. Win this, look good doing it, and it’ll matter.

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl?

Auburn is going to care.

UCF will prove it’s good enough to hang around with the big boys, and it’ll unleash all the tricks, all the fun, and all the bombs to hit the Tiger secondary deep, but Auburn will keep up in the firefight.

UCF will look the part. It won’t get embarrassed, and it will look like it belongs in the big game, but this is still an Auburn team that beat Alabama and was close to getting into the College Football Playoff.

With the time off, this will look like a different Tiger team than the one that lost to Georgia in the SEC Championship.

Final Score

Auburn 40, UCF 27
More Bowl Info & Get Tickets


Auburn -9.5, o/u: 67

ATS Confidence: 2
5: Being in the bar already
0: Watching ball drop … and then trying to get into the bar

Must See Rating: 4.5
5: New Year’s Eve: Ministry of Sound, Defected London NYE
0: New Year’s Eve with Maroon 5, Las Vegas

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl History, Results

Dec. 31, 2016 Alabama 24, Washington 7
Dec. 31, 2015 Houston 38 Florida State 24
Dec. 31, 2014 TCU 42 Mississippi 3
Dec. 31, 2013 Texas A&M 52 Duke 48
Dec. 31, 2012 Clemson 25 LSU 24
Dec. 31, 2011 Auburn 42 Virginia 23
Dec. 31, 2010 Florida State 26 South Carolina 17
Dec. 31, 2009 Virginia Tech 37 Tennessee 14
Dec. 31, 2008 LSU 38 Georgia Tech 3
Dec. 31, 2007 Auburn 23 Clemson 20 (OT)
Dec. 30, 2006 Georgia 31 Virginia Tech 24
Dec. 30, 2005 LSU 40 Miami 3
Dec. 31, 2004 Miami 27 Florida 10
Jan. 2, 2004 Clemson 27 Tennessee 14
Dec. 31, 2002 Maryland 30 Tennessee 3
Dec. 31, 2001 North Carolina 16 Auburn 10
Dec. 29, 2000 LSU 28 Georgia Tech 14
Dec. 30, 1999 Mississippi State 17 Clemson 7
Dec. 31, 1998 Georgia 35 Virginia 33
Jan. 2, 1998 Auburn 21 Clemson 17
Dec. 28, 1996 LSU 10 Clemson 7
Dec. 30, 1995 Virginia 34 Georgia 27
Jan. 1, 1995 N.C. State 28 Mississippi State 24
Dec. 31, 1993 Clemson 14 Kentucky 13
Jan. 2, 1993 North Carolina 21 Mississippi State 17
Jan. 1, 1992 East Carolina 37 N.C. State 34
Dec. 29, 1990 Auburn 27 Indiana 23
Dec. 30, 1989 Syracuse 19 Georgia 18
Dec. 31, 1988 N.C. State 28 Iowa 23
Jan. 2, 1988 Tennessee 27 Indiana 22
Dec. 31, 1986 Virginia Tech 25 N.C. State 24
Dec. 31, 1985 Army 31 Illinois 29
Dec. 31, 1984 Virginia 27 Purdue 24
Dec. 30, 1983 Florida State 28 North Carolina 3
Dec. 31, 1982 Iowa 28 Tennessee 22
Dec. 31, 1981 West Virginia 26 Florida 6
Jan. 2, 1981 Miami 20 Virginia Tech 10
Dec. 31, 1979 Baylor 24 Clemson 18
Dec. 25, 1978 Purdue 41 Georgia Tech 21
Dec. 31, 1977 N.C. State 24 Iowa State 14
Dec. 31, 1976 Kentucky 21 North Carolina 0
Dec. 31, 1975 West Virginia 13 N.C. State 10
Dec. 28, 1974 Texas Tech 6 Vanderbilt 6
Dec. 28, 1973 Georgia 17 Maryland 16
Dec. 29, 1972 N.C. State 49 West Virginia 13
Dec. 30, 1971 Mississippi 41 Georgia Tech 18
Dec. 30, 1970 Arizona State 48 North Carolina 26
Dec. 30, 1969 West Virginia 14 South Carolina 3
Dec. 30, 1968 LSU 31 Florida State 27


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