Another Bo: Auburn legend Bo Jackson, the Heisman Trophy running back who played in both the NFL and MLB before making the College Football Hall of Fame, isn’t the only famous Bo for the Tigers. This season, Bo Nix became Auburn’s true freshman starting quarterback. The Alabama native has completed 200 of his 351 passes for 2,366 yards and 15 touchdowns, with six interceptions. He also has rushed for 301 yards and seven scores. Gophers defensive coordinator Joe Rossi said Nix has improved throughout the season, is more confident in throwing and scrambling and is much more of a difference-maker. Nix is the SEC Freshman of the Year.
Top-five guy: Senior defensive tackle Derrick Brown will play his last game for Auburn in the Outback Bowl and will likely become a top-five or top-10 pick in the NFL draft. The 6-5, 318-pound defensive lineman has 50 tackles and four sacks as well as two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and four passes defended. Brown is the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
The coach: In Gus Malzahn’s six seasons as Auburn’s coach, he has led Auburn to a 62-30 record with six consecutive bowl game appearances. He also has won an SEC championship, two SEC West titles and made the BCS National Championship game in 2013. The Outback Bowl will be his fifth New Year’s Day bowl game at Auburn. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said Malzahn is one of the “brightest offensive minds” in football and is good at bringing out unexpected strategies for bowl games.
What a rush: Auburn averages 211 yards on the ground and uses a rotation of players at running back. JaTarvious Whitlow leads with 739 yards on 147 attempts and nine touchdowns, but others such as D.J. Williams, Shaun Shivers and Kam Martin can also make an impact. “I don’t think anybody runs the football like they run the football,” Fleck said of Auburn. “They’re so creative, whether it’s the counter-read, they’re pulling people left and right, they’re coming from all angles, different formations. … [Malzahn] does such a great job of changing the formations, changing the motions, changing personnel groupings and always keeping you off balance that way.”
Eagle or Tiger: Auburn’s mascot is the tiger, but bump into anyone from the team, and they’ll undoubtedly shout, “War Eagle!” as a greeting. The school’s answer to any confusion is “We are the Tigers who say, ‘War Eagle.’ ” Auburn does have a live eagle mascot, and its fight song is called “War Eagle.” But they’re the Tigers. Minnesota fans might already be familiar with this, though, since Auburn’s basketball team made the Final Four hosted in Minneapolis in April.