2011 Chick-fil-A - Auburn 43, Virginia 24

Posted Dec 31, 2011

2011-2012 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl

2011 Chick-fil-A

Auburn 43, Virginia 24

- 2011-2012 CFN Bowl Central

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National Rankings
104th Total Offense 49th
79th Total Defense 31st
82nd Scoring Offense 88th
81st Scoring Defense 32nd
38th Rushing Offense 53rd
98th Run Defense 33rd
106th Passing Offense 63rd
44th Passing Defense 49th
59th Turnover Margin 90th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
A   V
2 Quarterbacks 2
3.5 RBs 3
3 Receivers 3
2 O Line 4
2 D Line 3
3 Linebackers 3
3 Secondary 3.5
3 Spec Teams 3
4 Coaching 4.5
\Auburn 43 … Virginia 24
- CFN Thoughts on the Chick-fil-A

Auburn: The Tigers ran for 273 yards to 123. … Barrett Trotter completed 11-of-18 passes for 175 yards and a score, and Kiehl Frazier ran 16 times for 55 yards and two touchdowns. … Onterio McCalebb ran ten times for 109 yards and a score, and caught two passes for 53 yards and a touchdown. … Emory Blake caught six passes for 108 yards. … Neiko Thorpe led the team with eight tackles with a broken up pass.

Virginia: The Cavaliers converted 8-of-13 third down chances. … Michael Rocco completed 26-of-41 passes for 312 yards and two scores with a pick. … Kevin Parks ran 11 times for 48 yards and a score. … Perry Jones ran eight times for 32 yards and led the team with seven catches for 90 yards. … Kris Burd caught six passes for 103 yards and two scores. … Aaron Taliaferro led the team with nine tackles with a broken up pass and a tackle for loss.

(AP) ATLANTA -- Onterio McCalebb was motivated by speculation that the suspension of star running back Mike Dyer could take the punch out of Auburn's running game.

McCalebb had an answer.

McCalebb scored two touchdowns and Auburn overcame the loss of quarterback Clint Moseley to set a season scoring high and beat Virginia 43-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Saturday night.

"It feels very awesome," McCalebb said.

"A lot of people have been saying we couldn't do it. I just let them talk," he said.

McCalebb, who had 109 yards rushing, scored on a 3-yard run and 25-yard catch while starting for Dyer, who was suspended for an undisclosed rules violation. Tre Mason added 64 yards rushing, including a 22-yard scoring run.

Auburn also had to regroup after Moseley left with an ankle injury in the first quarter.

Barrett Trotter passed for 175 yards and a touchdown while sharing time with Kiehl Frazier, who ran for two touchdowns.

The offensive outburst came in Auburn's last game with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who has been hired as the Arkansas State coach.

"This was a breakout game for next season," said Auburn receiver Quan Bray. "What you saw here is the future of Auburn football."

Auburn (8-5) ran for 273 yards.

"I knew that we needed to run the ball well today as a team, and we knew we had to do that to get the win," McCalebb said.

The Tigers also had big plays on special teams, blocking two punts and recovering an onside kick.

"We couldn't afford to give up the field position like we did and hang in with them," said Virginia coach Mike London.

Kris Burd caught two touchdown passes for Virginia (8-5), which held out two top defensive players, cornerback Chase Minnifield and linebacker Steve Greer, with knee injuries. Greer was in uniform but didn't play.

London said he didn't want to risk more serious injuries Minnifield and Greer.

"On that surface when you have to cut and you have a knee injury, I'm not looking for heroes," London said.

"I don't want to risk further injury that would really cause a young man some harm."

One year after winning the national championship -- and losing Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton -- Auburn absorbed lopsided losses to LSU, Georgia and Alabama in the second half of the regular season. After the loss to Alabama, defensive coordinator Ted Roof left for the same post at Central Florida.

While Malzahn stayed with Auburn for the bowl game, coach Gene Chizik took control of the defense.

"It was really important to me to get a win tonight," Malzahn said.

Moseley limped off the field with an injured right ankle after the Tigers' second possession. He did not return.

Trotter, a junior, started the first seven games before losing his job to Moseley. He made a triumphant return to prominence against Virginia, completing 11 of 18 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown.

"This guy is a man's man," said Chizik of Trotter, adding the junior "never pouted, never said anything negative" after losing his starting job.

Frazier, a freshman, had 16 carries for 55 yards and two touchdowns.

While others speculated that the loss of Dyer, an All-SEC selection, could be devastating to Auburn, McCalebb was eager to show he could be more than a change-of-pace back.

McCalebb set up his touchdown run with a 60-yard run.

Burd's 27-yard catch from Michael Rocco midway through the first quarter gave Virginia, wearing orange helmets for the first time since 1978, a 7-0 lead.

Then Auburn's special teams made the first of two momentum-changing plays in the half.

Freshman receiver Garrett Harper blocked a punt by Virginia's Jimmy Howell to give the Tigers possession at the Cavaliers' 15. Following a 12-yard run by McCalebb, Frazier scored from the 3.

Back-to-back unnecessary roughness penalties against Auburn's defense helped set up Burd's second touchdown catch from 35 yards for a 14-7 lead.

On the first play of Auburn's next possession, McCalebb broke free for a 60-yard run to the Virginia 25. He capped the drive with a 3-yard scoring run.

Chizik then called for an onside try and Cody Parkey recovered his own kick. After Trotter's 50-yard pass to Emory Blake, Frazier scored from the 1.

Auburn's Angelo Blackson blocked Howell's punt through the end zone for a safety in the third quarter. Virginia's only second-half points came on a 1-yard touchdown by Kevin Parks in the third quarter.

Parkey kicked field goals of 45 and 37 yards.

Rocco completed 26 of 41 passes for 312 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Auburn (7-5) vs. Virginia (8-4) Dec. 31, 7:30, ESPN

Here's The Deal … Auburn plummeted south in the year after winning the national championship. Virginia, on the other hand, soared north of its preseason expectations. Apparently, that makes the Georgia Dome college football's version of the Equator this postseason.

It didn't take long to realize that Auburn would not be a threat in this year's BCS National Championship chase. Needing a miraculous rally at home to escape Utah State in Week 1 was enough evidence that life after Cam Newton was going to be predictably challenging. Oh, there were a couple of high points along the way, such as wins over South Carolina and Florida, but too few for a program that was just getting accustomed to being inside the game's penthouse. Even worse, when the Tigers lost, they left no doubt about the outcome—14 points to Clemson, 24 points to Arkansas, 35 points to LSU, 38 points to Georgia and (gulp) 28 points to ‘Bama in the Iron Bowl.

It was a rough regular season on the Plains. The past month hasn't gone a whole lot smoother for Auburn. On Dec. 8, defensive coordinator Ted Roof, seeing the writing on the wall, left for the same position at UCF. On Dec. 11, all-star RB Michael Dyer was suspended for a violation of team rules. And in the biggest stunner of all, it was announced on Dec. 14 that highly-regarded offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was leaving to take the head job at Arkansas State, which should not be confused with the University in Fayetteville. The climate has dramatically changed at Auburn, a program that desperately needs something positive to take into the offseason.

Riding a contrasting trajectory as Auburn this season has been Virginia, one of the ACC's biggest surprises. Pegged in the summer as an also-ran, the Cavaliers instead have delivered their first bowl appearance and eight-win season since 2007. And the Cavs didn't just back-door it into the postseason picture. No, by upsetting the likes of Georgia Tech, Miami and Florida State, they entered the regular season finale against Virginia Tech with a chance to win the Coastal Division for the first time. Yeah, Virginia was outclassed, but the mere fact that it was in the hunt at the end of November was an undeniable sign of progress for second-year head coach Mike London.

London has been a breath of fresh air in Charlottesville, especially coming on the heels of the Al Groh era. In just two seasons, he has a floundering program pointed in the right direction. The players are performing at a higher level, the coaching staff is more accessible and the caliber of recruits is on the rise. With the school's first bowl victory since 2005, especially over a defending national champ out of the SEC, London will turbo boost his rebuilding plan just in time for another signing day in February.

Players to Watch: Someone in that Auburn backfield is going to benefit from the absence of Dyer in Atlanta. That someone is likely to be true freshman Tre Mason, who has been getting first-team practice snaps ahead of the more experienced Onterio McCalebb. The rookie from Lake Worth, Fla. has carried the ball just 19 times in 2011, but has the speed, burst and confidence to turn the Chick-fil-A Bowl into his own personal launching pad into 2012. Depending on the futures of Dyer and McCalebb, who could flirt with the NFL at the conclusion of this game, Mason as the feature back could be a sneak peek of things to come next fall.

The Tigers will need to establish the line of scrimmage on New Year's Eve because throwing on the Virginia defense can be tricky. For starters, Auburn's 106th-ranked passing attack has been erratic all year, unsuccessfully juggling between unproven quarterbacks Barrett Trotter, Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier. Now, it must face a seasoned Cavaliers defensive backfield that's led by next-level CB Chase Minnifield and hard-hitting S Rodney McLeod. Virginia could get in trouble if CB Demetrious Nicholson winds up covering Auburn's top receiver Emory Blake, who's hoping to be close to 100% after dealing with a nagging ankle injury for most of the year. Nicholson has a great future, but he needs to add more weight, and is just in his first year.

Easily the best game-within-the-game at this year's Chick-fil-A Bowl will occur in the trenches when Virginia has the ball. The strength of the Auburn defense is the line, a unit this staff has recruited very well. Ends Corey Lemonier and Nosa Eguae are only sophomores, yet continue to improve on the pass rush. In fact, the two-deep is completely dominated by underclassmen, including up-and-coming tackles Gabe Wright and Jeffrey Whitaker. The front man, though, is Lemonier, a speedy edge rusher, who has been in on 44 tackles, 13.5 stops for loss, 9.5 sacks and a disruptive five forced fumbles. However, …

… the Auburn D-line will get no free passes from the Virginia O-line. One of the unsung heroes of the program's 2011 success, the blockers helped keep the pocket clean, and paved the way for complimentary backs Perry Jones and Kevin Parks to combine for 1,544 yards and 13 scores on the ground. The Cavaliers had the luxury of continuity all year, landing LG Austin Pasztor, LT Oday Aboushi and C Anthony Mihota on the all-conference squad. RT Morgan Moses wasn't recognized, but the 6-6, 335-pound sophomore could wind up being the best of the best down the road. The two units will clash throughout the night, with the winner going a long way to deciding which program hoists the hardware just before midnight.

Auburn will win if … the defense doesn't get its doors blown off.

After allowing seven of their 11 FBS opponents to hang at least 34 points on them, the Tigers will be asked to coalesce around Chizik, who's assuming the coordinator duties for this game. Auburn houses raw talent. It often does. However, it needs to step up in just about every facet versus a Virginia attack that's light on scary options. The Tigers were equally soft against the run as the pass, and were especially feeble on third downs. The key will be to stuff the Cavaliers on first and second down, forcing them into third-and-long situations. With middling Michael Rocco taking snaps, the Cavs have sputtered when down and distance are not in their favor.

Virginia will win if … it proves to itself in the first half that it can hang with an SEC opponent.

The confidence of the Cavaliers was shaken in their last game, a 38-0 blowout against Virginia Tech. The last thing that this vulnerable program can afford is to get down early, slipping into a ditch from which it cannot get out. However, the longer that Virginia plays with Auburn, the quicker that the memory from the regular season finale will dissipate. The Cavs will be in their element if they can get to the second half in a low-scoring, nip-and-tuck game that won't win any awards for beauty. London's kids have thrived in nail-biters this fall, winning five of six that were decided by a touchdown or less.

What Will Happen: At this time of year, motivation looms extremely large. And want-to can be more important than the individual matchups.

The mindsets of these two combatants couldn't be more different. Virginia is giddy to be participating in a first-rate event, such as the Chick-fil-A Bowl. For Auburn, which was on the grandest stage a year ago, and has been reeling since the end of November, the offseason cannot come soon enough. It'll show in the intensity on both sidelines. Yeah, there's a gap in talent between the Tigers and the Cavaliers, but not quite as wide as many would assume. Virginia will control the tempo of the game, running Jones and Parks behind a capable offensive line. While the defense will have a few lapses, it's also catching a break in not having to account for Dyer. It'll be close throughout, and not decided until the waning moments. In other words, the cardiac Cavs will have the Tigers exactly where they want them in the fourth quarter.

CFN Prediction: Virginia 24 … Auburn 20
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Auburn -1.5   O/U: 48.5
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Michael Dyer's suspension is just enough to tip the scales to Virginia. Dyer will be missed, but he doesn't play on the defensive front. The Tigers will get rolled over by the Virginia ground game.

By Richard Cirminiello 
Virginia ecstatic to be here. Auburn? Not so much. Beating the defending champs would be a huge achievement for Mike London's Cavaliers.

By Matt Zemek
This is one of the weakest Chick-Fil-A Bowl matchups I can remember. This game deserves better.

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee  
One simple goal for Auburn: Don't get blown out. That's been a challenge of late.

By Russ Mitchell
Virginia is one of the surprise teams of 2011. Auburn has surrendered 208 points in its five loses. Fortunately for the Tigers, the Cavs don't exactly light up the scoreboard - at least not offensively, as they're currently rank 88th in that category.

By Terry Johnson
Both Virginia and Auburn need to establish their running game in order to get their offense going. Whichever team runs the ball with the most success will win this game.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN
You like Auburn's chances here as the Cavaliers' game against Va. Tech showed the world that they are not ready to play with fire just yet.

Best Bowl Moments
Best Cavalier Bowl Moment: Virginia didn't play in its first bowl game until 1984, but has made up for lost time with nearly 20 postseason appearances since then. The most exciting of the group took place in the 1995 Peach Bowl. Just moments after the Cavs had fumbled away the lead against Georgia, Demetrius Allen returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards to stun the Dawgs with only 57 seconds left on the clock.

Best Tiger Bowl Moment: Over the years, the Tigers have given their fans plenty to cheer about in the postseason. High on the list of shining moments was a 9-7 triumph over Michigan in the 1984 Sugar Bowl. Just over two decades later, the Tigers won the 2005 Sugar Bowl over Virginia Tech to complete a 13-0 season. However, it was last season's 22-19 win over Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game which stands as the most treasured moment in Auburn football history. A season for the ages from quarterback Cameron Newton reached its gleaming, glittering goal in Glendale, Arizona.

Chick-fil-A Bowl History
2010 South Carolina 26, Florida State 17
2009 Virginia Tech 37, Tennessee 14
2008 LSU 38, Georgia Tech 3
2007 Auburn 23, Clemson 20 OT
2006 Georgia 31, Virginia Tech 24
2005 LSU 40, Miami 3
2004 (Dec.) Miami 27, Florida 10
2004 (Jan.) Clemson 27, Tennessee 14
2002 Maryland 30, Tennessee 3
2001 North Carolina 16, Auburn 10
2000 LSU 28, Georgia Tech 14
1999 Miss State 17, Clemson 7
1998 (Dec.) Georgia 35, Virginia 33
1998 (Jan.) Auburn 21, Clemson 17
1996 LSU 10, Clemson 7
1995 (Dec.) Virginia 34, Georgia 27
1995 (Jan.) NC State 28, Mississippi State 24
1993 (Dec.) Clemson 14, Kentucky 13
1993 (Jan.) North Carolina 21, Mississippi State 24
1992 East Carolina 37, NC State 34
1990 Auburn 27, Indiana 23
1989 Syracuse 19, Georgia 18
1988 (Dec.) NC State 28, Iowa 23
1988 (Jan.) Tennessee 27, Indiana 22
1986 Virginia Tech 25, NC State 24
1985 Army 31, Illinois 29
1984 Virginia 27, Purdue 24
1983 Florida State 28, North Carolina 3
1982 Iowa 28, Tennessee 22
1981 (Dec.) West Virginia 26, Florida 6
1981 (Jan.) Miami 20, Virginia Tech 10
1979 Baylor 24, Clemson 18
1978 Purdue 41, Georgia Tech 21
1977 NC State 24, Iowa State 14
1976 Kentucky 21, North Carolina 0
1975 West Virginia 13, NC State 10
1974 Texas Tech 6, Vanderbilt 6
1973 Georgia 17, Maryland 16
1972 NC State 49, West Virginia 13
1971 Mississippi 41, Georgia Tech 18
1970 Arizona State 48, North Carolina 26
1969 West Virginia 14, South Carolina 3
1968 LSU 31, Florida State 27
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