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Previewing the Music City Bowl: Auburn battles Maryland in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl.



On Saturday, December 30th, the 6-6 Auburn Tigers will face the 7-5 Maryland Terrapins in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl pitting the SEC against the Big 10 conferences. The game will feature two teams that are looking for a bowl win to end the season on a positive and use it step in the right direction. For Maryland, they split their final four games with a mixture of blowout losses and good wins. Auburn, similar to Maryland split their final four games with a surprise loss to New Mexico State and a heartbreaking loss to arch-rival Alabama to end the season. With players opting out throughout college football, let's take a look at some matchups that could decide this game. Let's dive into the preview of the Music City Bowl.



Quarterback - Billy Edwards Jr. vs Payton Thorne. Throughout the season, the Terrapins have been led by Taulia Tagovailoa who had a career year with 3,377 yards and 25 touchdowns. However, Tagovailoa has opted to not play in the bowl game and choose between the NFL Draft or entering the transfer portal. Enter Billy Edwards Jr., who is slated to make his third start of his young career. Although he has not had a lot of opportunities to play, 10 pass attempts this season, he does have a strong arm. He's able to make throws with decent accuracy. Will he seize the moment, time will tell. For Auburn, Thorne is looking to have a signature game for his time at Auburn. In a down year for his production, throwing for 1,671 yards and 15 touchdowns, a strong performance from Thorne will help give Auburn a solid win to end the season. Advantage - Auburn Tigers. Payton Thorne has started in both the Big 10 and the SEC. He's also had games against Maryland, going 1-1 while at Michigan State.



Running back - Roman Hemby vs Jarquez Hunter. The running back battle will be a fun one to watch. Both primary backs are workhorses. They both can be game-changers when they get the ball in their hands. For the Terps, Hemby has been a power downhill runner. He finished the season just shy of the 1,000-yard mark and recorded 525 of his 988 yards on the season after contact. With an estimated 4.40 40 time, he has the speed to break away from defenders. He's a benefit on pass plays both as a blocker as well as a receiving option as well. For the Tigers, Hunter led the team in rushing with a career-high 865 yards on the season. He is another speedy receiver (4.44 estimated time) who is an instinctive runner. He's got solid hands as a receiver and can show the patience to let blockers block. Advantage - The fans. For fans of the schools as well as fans of good running backs, this will be a fun matchup. With the inexperience at quarterback for the Terps, Hemby could see an increased workload against an Auburn defense that allowed an average of 159 yards per game rushing. Slight edge to Hemby and the Terps.


Receiving - Jeshaun Jones vs Rivaldo Fairweather. Leading receiver against leading receiver. Jones led the way for the Terps, with a career-high in yards with 747 he was also third on the team in touchdowns with four. He's a solid route runner with a good first step off the line. He shows good football instincts and body control to high-point the ball and make catches. He tracks the ball well and shows good speed to separate and stretch the field on vertical routes. For the Tigers, Fairweather is in his first season with the team has a career-high in touchdowns, and is 77 yards shy of his yardage high. Although listed as a tight end, he often lines up as a receiver and makes plays across the middle. He has a great catch radius and uses his frame and hands well to catch in traffic. He's got good speed to separate and balance to change direction. Advantage - Auburn Tigers. I've been following Fairweather since was playing at FIU. He was a very bright spot on a struggling team and seemed like he caught everything thrown in the same zip code he was in. It will be interesting to see how he plays in his first bowl game.



Prediction - Auburn Tigers. Although it may be close early, Auburn has the weapons and veteran leadership to pull out the win. Auburn by two scores.

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