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Music City Bowl Picks - Purdue vs. Auburn Predictions

Boilermakers vs. Tigers Odds

The bowl season brings a lot of interesting matchups to the table and the Music City Bowl is no exception, pinning the Purdue Boilermakers against the Auburn Tigers for the first time in the history of the programs. This is a high-profile bowl game for the Boilermakers and a disappointing one for the Tigers who are favored by the online sportsbooks but have had their fair share of bowl game struggles in recent years.

Purdue Boilermakers vs. Auburn Tigers

Date and Time: Friday, December 28, 2018, 1:30 p.m. ET

Location: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN

Opening CFB Odds: Auburn -5, 54.5

Purdue vs. Auburn TV Coverage: ESPN

It’s been a bit of a disappointing year for Auburn when it’s all said and done and the Music City Bowl is the icing on the cake, a lesser bowl than a team like the Tigers are accustom to getting.

The Tigers come into this game having lost two of its last three games, albeit to Georgia and Alabama, but the team’s 3-5 ATS and 3-4 SU to close out the year.

Auburn did put up a solid 21 points against Alabama in the season finale. That’s not bad for the offense against a top defense, but the Auburn defense struggled in what became a blowout loss.

Typically, the Auburn defense has been solid on the year, keeping the opposition to 19.6 PPG even with 52 points allowed to the Crimson Tide.

Offensively, this team leans on solid ground game headed by JaTavious Whitlow. Though he only has four rushing scores on the year. In the air, Jarrett Stidham is a good quarterback and has stated his intent to leave for the NFL draft. That could have an impact on the game.

On the other side of this matchup, Purdue should be pumped to play in this game and will undoubtedly be as prepared as possible for the showdown.

The Purdue offense is one-sided. The passing game is top-10 in the country. The rushing attack ranks much closer to the bottom of the list than the top.

D.J. Knox and Markell Jones will be asked to do enough on the ground in this game to keep the options open down field for David Blough. The quarterback has had a great year with a 66.6-percent completion percentage and 3,521 yards to go with 25 scores and just eight interceptions.

Purdue will try and air it out in this game. They’ll need a high scoring game to win given their defensive woes, particularly through the air.

Key Stat

While Purdue’s defense isn’t great, especially in the air, the team does well enough against the rush to stop the opposing offense on third-down quite well. In fact, Auburn and Purdue are rather evenly matched in that category, making the third down conversion rate a key stat going into this contest.

Offensively, the Boilermakers have converted on third down at a 38.7-percent clip, much higher than the Tigers. While the Tigers have the edge over Purdue on defensive third down coversions, the margin is much narrower with Auburn only a few places ahead of the Boilermakers in the rankings and percentages of .344 for Auburn and .353 for Purdue.

Of course, the difficulty of opposition is a factor weighing in Auburn’s favor, but the numbers as a whole—especially on the defensive end—are closer than one would expect.

Matchup To Watch

The offense for the Boilermakers is the strength. While the team doesn’t run a whole lot, it gets enough on the ground to allow Bough to do his thing in the air. The issue will be Purdue’s defense. To win, Purdue will need this to be a higher scoring game for sure, but it’ll also need a few key stops from a defense that’s struggled to provide them.

The rush defense should be okay, but the pass defense is one of the worst in the country, allowing 280.8 passing yards a game to rank No.126 in the nation. That’s bad. Thankfully, the Tigers haven’t had the greatest season and the offense is a big inconsistent, that including Jerrett Stidham who has been reasonably accurate, but not overly prolific. He hasn’t thrown for more than 178 yards in his last three games and hasn’t thrown for more than two touchdowns any game this year.

Can Stidham take advantage of an excellent matchup to put up one of his best outings of the year? That’s the key. Adding a wrench into things is the departure of offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, leaving Coach Malzahn to call the shots on offense.

NCAA Football Betting Odds

Bet the Music City Bowl at

The Boilermakers come into this game having covered the spread in seven of its last eight games out of conference. At the same time Coach Brohm made the choice to stay put, showing confidence in this program this year and going forward. The stability there should help in the game.

Purdue also comes into this one having shown the ability to beat elite level teams given a huge win against Ohio State earlier this year despite entering as 12-point underdogs. Expecting that kind of a result in a bowl game isn’t wise. Yes, Auburn is a better team than Purdue on paper, but all things considered, other factors help the Boilermakers.

Ultimately, this one may come down to want. The Boilermakers want to be in this game and prove themselves against a team like Auburn. As for the Tigers, this is hardly a big time Bowl. Will they be up to play well and perform? Maybe given GusMalzahn’s struggles in bowl games to this point in his career, but that could also go to support the notion Purdue at least keeps this one close enough to warrant taking the points. If this spread drops much more, it gets a bit dicey, but for now, take the points.

CFB ATS Betting Pick: Purdue +3.5 & Under 55 at

CFB Score Prediction: Tigers 30 – Boilermakers 27

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