StatTiger: Analyzing Auburn vs. Virginia

Stuart Carter crunches the numbers to pick a winner in the Chick-fil-A Bowl matchup of the Tigers vs. Cavaliers.

2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl, Atlanta, Dec. 31, Georgia Dome, Atlanta

No. 25 Auburn (7-5) vs. Virginia (8-4-0)

How they match up...

•Auburn No. 82 in scoring offense vs. Virginia No. 32 in scoring defense.

•Virginia No. 88 in scoring offense vs. Auburn No. 79 in scoring defense.

Advantage: Virginia

•Auburn No. 38 in run offense vs. Virginia No. 34 in run defense.

•Virginia No. 53 in run offense vs. Auburn No. 99 in run defense.

Advantage: Virginia

•Auburn No. 82 in pass efficiency offense vs. Virginia No. 33 in pass efficiency defense.

•Virginia No. 91 in pass efficiency offense vs. Auburn No. 87 in pass efficiency defense.

Advantage: Virginia

•Auburn No. 104 in total offense vs. Virginia No. 30 in total defense.

•Virginia No. 51 in total offense vs. Auburn No. 78 in total defense.

Advantage: Virginia

•Auburn No. 117 in tackles for loss allowed vs. Virginia No. 24 in tackles for loss.

•Virginia No. 73 in tackles for loss allowed vs. Auburn No. 57 in tackles for loss.

Advantage: Virginia

•Auburn No. 56 in turnovers lost vs. Virginia No. 54 in turnovers gained.

•Virginia No. 94 in turnovers lost vs. Auburn No. 54 in turnovers gained.

Advantage: Auburn

•Auburn No. 103 in 3rd down offense vs. Virginia No. 16 in 3rd down defense.

•Virginia No. 74 in 3rd down offense vs. Auburn No. 105 in 3rd down defense.

Advantage: Virginia

•Auburn No. 47 in red zone offense vs. Virginia No. 6 in red zone defense.

•Virginia No. 91 in red zone offense vs. Auburn No. 106 in red zone defense.

Advantage: Virginia

•Auburn No. 19 in net punting vs. Virginia No. 88 in net punting.

Advantage: Auburn

•Auburn No. 78 in punt return offense vs. Virginia No. 75 in punt return defense.

•Virginia No. 92 in punt return offense vs. Auburn No. 37 in punt return defense.

Advantage: Auburn

•Auburn No. 15 in kickoff return offense vs. Virginia No. 56 in kickoff return defense.

•Virginia No. 60 in kickoff return offense vs. Auburn No. 65 in kick return defense.

Advantage: Auburn

•Auburn 73.3 percent in field goal percentage vs. Virginia 68.2 percent in field goal percentage.

Advantage: Auburn

Virginia players to watch...

Cornerback Rodney McLeod has 55 tackles this season and leads the Cavaliers with four interceptions.

Virginia has a veteran front-four with three senior starters. Defensive tackle Matt Conrath is third on the team with 64 tackles, including 11 for loss, and Cam Johnson will be a major threat coming off the edge with 11 tackles for loss.

Linebackers Steve Greer (103) and Laroy Reynolds (81) are the Cavaliers leading tacklers this season.

Running back Perry Jones has 883 yards rushing to go along with 416 yards receiving from 41 receptions.

Senior wideout Kris Burd leads Virginia with 60 receptions for 810 yards. Sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco has averaged 236.7 yards passing in his last four starts.

Freshman running back Kevin Parks gives the Cavaliers a solid one-two punch, rushing for more than 75-yards five times during the regular season.

Auburn players to watch

With the suspension of Michael Dyer, freshman Tre Mason will have his opportunity to display his speed and athletic ability at tailback. Look for Onterio McCalebb to see an increase in his 8.5 carries per game in 2011.

Tre Mason runs the football for the Tigers.

Though Emory Blake is still not 100 percent healthy, he remains Auburn's biggest impact player from the wide receiver position.

Daren Bates leads the Tigers with 96 tackles on the season and was the leading tackler in the last three games. End Corey Lemonier has 13.5 tackles for loss during the regular season followed by linebacker Eltoro Freeman with 9.5.

Safety Neiko Thorpe is second on the team with 94 tackles while leading the Tigers with three interceptions. Keep your eye on LaDarius Owens, who missed five of the last six regular season games due to an injury. He should be ready to make plays against Virginia.

Inside the Numbers...

•Auburn is 8-1-0 in bowl games in which the Tigers gain more than 400 yards in total offense.

•Auburn is 8-2-1 in bowl games with a 100-yard rusher.

•Auburn is 9-3-0 in bowl games with a quarterback having a rating of 130 or better.

•Auburn is 9-1-0 in its last 10 bowl games when the Tigers hold the opponent to under 300 yards in total offense.

•Auburn is 7-2-0 in bowl games with a player going over 100 yards in receiving.

•Auburn has won seven of its last eight bowl games.

•Auburn is 5-0 in bowl games with Gene Chizik on the staff.

Gene Chizik is show at Auburn's 22-19 victory in last season's BCS National Championship Game.

•Auburn is 8-1-0 in bowl games when the Tigers rush for at least 200 yards.

•Herbert Casey's 159 yards receiving during the 1990 Peach Bowl remains the school individual record for a bowl game.

•Ben Leard's quarterback rating of 181.1 against Michigan in the 2001 Citrus Bowl remains the school bowl record.

•Auburn currently holds a 21-13-2 record in bowl games and Virginia is 7-10-0.

•Virginia is 28-48-6 against Southeastern Conference opponents and Auburn is 120-75-8 against ACC opponents.

What to watch...

The Virginia Cavaliers will be the most experienced team Auburn has faced this season. Of their starting 24 (including kicker and punter), 21 are juniors and seniors with an average of 37.6 games of experience per starter.

Of Auburn's starting 24, only 10 will be upperclassmen with the starters having an average of 25.2 games of experience. Safety Neiko Thorpe will be the only Auburn starter with more than 40 games of experience and the Cavaliers will start 10 such players.

Virginia's edge in experience could become a huge advantage in a close ball game. The fact the majority of the Cavaliers' roster has not been to a bowl game will be motivation for Virginia to play well.

With Ted Roof leaving Auburn, Chizik has stepped in as the acting defensive coordinator. Auburn's defensive players have noticed the increase in intensity from their head coach, which they hope to transform into an improved performance on the field.

Gus Malzahn will coach his final game as Auburn's offensive coordinator in Atlanta, which was very important for the departing coach. It will be interesting to see how Malzahn rotates his quarterbacks against the Cavaliers. With the absence of Dyer, Auburn could become more reliant on its pass offense, which would likely favor Clint Moseley. It could also mean a heavy does of Kiehl Frazier to give Auburn another inside runner.

Freshman quarterback Kiehl Frazier may have a larger role in the bowl game.

Breaking down the numbers accumulated by both teams during the regular season clearly favors the Virginia Cavaliers, but it is important to consider the strength of schedule. According to the NCAA, Auburn faced the No. 4 most difficult schedule in 2011 and Virginia faced the No. 90 most difficult schedule.

Outside the five Top 10 defenses Auburn faced this season, the Tigers' offense averaged 388 yards and 32 points per game. If Auburn can control the Virginia running game, the Cavaliers' offense is currently No. 91 in pass efficiency.

If it comes down to being a close game, Auburn is 11-3 under Chizik in games decided by seven points or less. During the same time span, Virginia is 6-6 in close games, which should magnify the individual performances of Cody Parkey and Steven Clark on special teams. Auburn 24, Virginia 20

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