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College Football
Preview
Auburn vs Memphis
When: 12:00 PM ET, Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Where: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama



BIRMINGHAM BOWL STORYLINES

1. Memphis will head into bowl season without the head coach that guided them into the College Football Playoff Rankings before a late-season swoon. Justin Fuente took the vacant head coaching job at Virginia Tech, and the Tigers brought in former Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell on a five-year contract to be the new coach, but interim coach Darrell Dickey will guide Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., against Auburn on Dec. 30. Dickey is expected to remain with the program as part of Norvell’s staff moving forward.

2. Auburn had big expectations heading into the season but ended up falling off the pace as Jeremy Johnson struggled early at quarterback and eventually lost the job before regaining it down the stretch. The junior threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more in a 56-34 win over Idaho on Nov. 21 that gained the team bowl eligibility but struggled again in a loss to Alabama the next week. Johnson threw only one of his seven interceptions on the season in the final four games.

3. Memphis will have the best quarterback on the field in senior Paxton Lynch, who might be the top quarterback taken in this spring’s NFL draft. Lynch threw for 28 touchdowns and three interceptions, with seven of those TDs coming on nine completions in a 63-0 victory over SMU in the regular-season finale. Lynch guided an offense that averaged 510.4 yards and 42.7 points.

TV: Noon ET, ESPN. LINE: Auburn -2.5

ABOUT MEMPHIS (9-3): While Lynch is auditioning for pro scouts, most of the rest of the roster will attempt to impress Norvell and the new coaching staff. Norvell is expected to keep a similar up-tempo pace after guiding an Arizona State offense that averaged 39.3 points. The Tigers made big strides as a program under Fuente and ranked 13 in the first CFP rankings after beginning the season 8-0, but consecutive losses to Navy, Houston and Temple buried any hope the team had of a New Year’s Six bowl.

ABOUT AUBURN (6-6): Auburn was supposed to have an offense to rival the top teams in the SEC but never got things going under Johnson or freshman Sean White, who is recovering from a knee injury and could be back for the bowl game. The extra month of bowl practice gives coach Gus Malzahn a chance to work with a defense that lost coordinator Will Muschamp and secondary coach Travaris Robinson to the annual carousel. "Our goal in these first three practices is just get better with what we do," Malzahn told reporters in mid-December. "That's a big advantage with these bowl practices for that development of your guys as far as fundamentals ... development of your young guys and also evaluate your young guys, because a lot of these guys have been on the scout team all year.”



PREDICTION: Memphis 42, Auburn 28
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Auburn 6-6 L1 27.2 27.3 4-4 2-2 5-5 0-0 2-6
Memphis 9-3 W1 42.7 27.0 5-1 4-2 1-1 0-1 5-3
Last Meeting
Auburn Memphis
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
No previous meeting.
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Auburn N/A
Memphis N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Auburn N/A
Memphis N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Auburn N/A
Memphis N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
Auburn N/A
Memphis N/A
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Auburn S. White 57.7 1064 1 2
Memphis P. Lynch 69.0 3670 28 3
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Auburn P. Barber 226 976 4.3 13
Memphis D. Dorceus 144 613 4.3 8
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Auburn R. Louis 45 699 15.5 3
Memphis M. Frazier 66 750 11.4 4
Touchdowns Player TD
Auburn P. Barber 13
Memphis D. Dorceus 11
Quickchart Matchup
Auburn Auburn Off vs  Memphis Memphis Def
Auburn 367.2 yards
Memphis 407.1 yards
Auburn 4.3 yards/rush
Memphis 3.4 yards/rush
Auburn 7.3 yards/attempt
Memphis 8 yards/attempt
Memphis Memphis Off vs  Auburn Auburn Def
Memphis 510.4 yards
Auburn 421.8 yards
Memphis 4.2 yards/rush
Auburn 4.6 yards/rush
Memphis 9.1 yards/attempt
Auburn 6.6 yards/attempt