Down year: Auburn looks to salvage season and finish above 500

12/30/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

The march to the National Title game continues with more bowl games to finish out 2015 and head into the BCS portion of our games. Don't be fooled, however, into thinking these games aren't going to pack some serious punch with shoot outs and ground games battling defenses that are NFL caliber. Here's total slate of games:
Birmingham Bowl: Auburn vs Memphis 12/30 at 12 pm
This battle of the Tigers has Memphis coming in at 9 and 3 overall from the American Athletic Conference, while Auburn comes in 6 and 6 from the SEC. Auburn will have to slow down a high powered Memphis offense that averages 42.7 points and 510.4 yards per game. Auburn is giving up an average of nearly 422 yards per game, which ranks 90th in the NCAA. Memphis is led by QB Paxton Lynch, who's thrown for 3,670 yards and 28 touchdowns against just 3 interceptions. His top target has been Mose Frazier, who has 66 catches for 750 yards and 4 TD's. Auburn will lead on their ground attack, led by the duo of Peyton Barber and Jovon Robinson, who have combined for nearly 1,500 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. After winning their first 8 games, Memphis went 1 and 3 in their final four games, while Auburn lost 4 of their final 6 games. This is the first meeting between these schools since 1976.

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Belk Bowl: Mississippi State vs North Carolina State 12/30 at 3:30 pm
It's a battle of the SEC versus the ACC as 8 and 4 Mississippi State takes on 8 and 4 North Carolina State. On paper it looks to be a pretty even matchup, as the Bulldogs come in averaging 33 points and 451 yards per game, while the Wolf Pack average 33.7 points and 412 yards per game. Both teams come in having dropped 2 of their last 3 regular season games as well. The Bulldogs are led by quarterback Dak Prescott, who's passed for 3,413 yards and 25 TD's against 4 interceptions. Prescott also leads the team in rushing with 541 yards and has scored 10 rushing touchdowns. Fred Ross has been his go to guy, catching 81 passes for 933 yards and 4 scores. The Wolf Pack is led by QB Jacoby Brissett, who's thrown for 2,448 yards and 19 TD's and just 4 interceptions. Brissett has also rushed for 303 yards and 5 scores. TE Jaylen Samuels led the team with 64 catches for 599 yards and 14 TD's. These teams last met in the 1995 Peach Bowl, which North Carolina State won.
Music City Bowl: Louisville vs Texas A&M 12/30 at 7 pm
This is another matchup of the ACC versus the SEC, as the 7 and 5 Cardinals take on the 8 and 4 Aggies in what looks to be another even game. Louisville averages 28.8 points per game, while Texas A&M averages 28.3. The Cardinals average 406 yards per game, while the Aggies average 423. Texas A&M though will be without their top two quarterbacks, as both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray have left the program, forcing little used Jake Hubenak to start this bowl game. The Aggies will have RB Tra Carson, who's rushed for 1,059 yards and 6 touchdowns. Louisville is led by dual threat QB Lamar Jackson, who's passed for 1,613 yards and 10 touchdowns, while rushing for 734 yards and 9 scores. Texas A&M has won all 3 meetings between these schools, including the most recent in 1994.
Holiday Bowl: #25 USC vs #23 Wisconsin 12/30 at 10pm
The Trojans come out of the PAC 12 with an 8 and 5 record, while the Badgers represent the Big 10 and come in 9 and 3. USC has lots of weapons on offense, starting with quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler has passed for 3,315 yards and 28 touchdowns while throwing 6 interceptions. WR Juju Smith Schuster has 85 catches for 1,389 yards and 10 TD's. The running back tandem of Ronald Jones II and Justin Davis have combined for 1,815 yards and 13 touchdowns. They'll face a tough Wisconsin defense that gives up just 13.1 points per game, which is tops in the nation. The Badgers also rank 3rd in the country in total defense, 4th in rushing defense, and 6th against the pass. Wisconsin is led offensively by QB Joel Stave, who's thrown for 2,470 yards and 10 TD's. His top target has been Alex Erickson, who has 72 catches for 924 yards and 3 touchdowns. This will be the first meeting between these schools since 1966. USC has won all 6 of the all time meetings.

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