Outback Bowl: Auburn Football vs Wisconsin Preview and Prediction

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Aug 30, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers wide receiver Melvin Ray (82) scores a touchdown in the first quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn’s Keys to Victory

1. It’s all about that pace. For the most part this season, Auburn’s offense hasn’t been as fast and full-throttle as it was expected to be. The Tigers cranked up the tempo against Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and the result was 44 points and 630 yards (the most ever allowed by Alabama in a single game) in a close loss.

Ohio State went fast against Wisconsin, and their offense was unstoppable. This is the final game for players like Nick Marshall, Cameron Artis-Payne, Sammie Coates, C.J. Uzomah and Reese Dismukes. The Tigers need to go even faster than they did in the Iron Bowl to have success against a stout Badger defense.

2. Get the ball to Melvin Ray. With Duke Williams out, Auburn will need other receivers to step up. The most reliable candidate besides NFL-bound Sammie Coates is junior Melvin Ray, who is 5th on the team in receiving yards despite only catching 7 passes this season.

However, all of Ray’s seven catches either went for a touchdown or a first down. Ray averaged 25.3 yards per catch, the best of any Auburn receiver in 2014. He has great hands, explosive speed and is a terrific route-runner, which makes him an explosive threat when he gets the ball in his hands.

3. On defense, sell out against the run. Yes, stacking the box all game could allow Wisconsin to burn the Tigers’ secondary. But this is a risk Auburn must be willing to take. Auburn’s banged-up defensive line alone won’t be enough to stop arguably the best running game in the country. The Tigers will need big plays from Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy, as well as Stars Robenson Therezie and Justin Garrett, to slow down the Badgers on the ground.

Auburn should keep the box loaded and try to force Wisconsin to beat them through the air. Of course, Auburn isn’t the first team to consider stacking the box against Wisconsin. Others have tried and failed miserably. Stopping Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement is easier said than done, basically.

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