Northwestern vs Auburn: Vrbo Citrus Bowl 10 Thoughts On NU 35-19 Win

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern vs Auburn: Vrbo Citrus Bowl 10 Thoughts On NU 35-19 Win

Bowls College Football Playoff

Northwestern vs Auburn: Vrbo Citrus Bowl 10 Thoughts On NU 35-19 Win

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6. The Big Ten won a Citrus Bowl?

The last time the Big Ten one a Citrus Bowl? Michigan dominated Florida in the 2016 version, but before that, it was Penn State beating LSU when this was the Capital One Bowl.

It might be a strange year, and the SEC sent one of its mid-level teams and this was – by the rankings – the Big Ten’s third best, but still, for the conference to come up with a big bowl victory over the SEC is always a big deal. Before this, the Big Ten was 1-7 in the last eight of these against the SEC.

5. Auburn was in a bad situation

It’s always next to impossible to do the whole bowl thing during a coaching change, but this was truly tough. The Tigers struggled late in the year, the program is waiting to make the full transition to the Bryan Harsin era, and it was going against a program that is always, no matter what, going to bring the full effort and focus.

That’s not to say Auburn didn’t play like it wanted this or wasn’t trying – quite the opposite; more on that in a moment – but it was a tough bowl game against a tough opponent in a tough situation. Now …

4. Step One for new Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin …

Get that ground game going again.

It wasn’t bad late in the year with over 200 yards against Mississippi State, and it was able to get to around 200 yards on a regular basis after behind stuffed by Georgia early on, but the rushing attack didn’t even work a little bit.

The Northwestern run defense that appeared to be cranked up after being run over by Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship was fantastic, but without Tank Bigsby – who missed the game with COVID issues – Auburn ran 26 times or 61 yards, and 32 of them were by leading rusher Bo Nix.

NEXT: Top Three Thoughts From The Vrbo Citrus Bowl

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