Opposition Research: Talking Auburn with War Blogle

As we finally get within 24 hours to kick we start to conclude our opposition research and give you the final scoop on what to expect in the 2015 Outback Bowl between Wisconsin and Auburn.

Joining us in the hot seat were our friends from War Blogle, an independent site covering all things Auburn football. They also happen to be deeply in love with Bruce Pearl, so take what they say with a grain of salt, lol.

But, for the other side of the coin please make sure to follow them on Twitter @WarBlogle and visit our conversation and breakdown of the game on their site.

So, how do the folks in Navy and Orange see things going in the Outback Bowl? Let’s sit down for a conversation with them.

MTB: Do you miss Gene Chizik at all? By the way, thanks for taking him off the hands of Iowa State (I went there for undergrad). 

War Blogle: I don’t mean this as a slight to Chizik, but not really. I was just as confused as anybody when he was hired, but after a decent first year (ending in an Outback Bowl win) and a national championship, I quickly changed my tune. Even during 2012 when things were awful, I didn’t hate the guy.

But then came Gus who made us forget everything. After what he was able to do in year one, he made it impossible to miss anybody.

MTB: Who are the two players for Wisconsin (not named Melvin Gordon) that scare you the most and why?

WB: I’m not sure if he’ll play, but Tanner McEvoy probably scares me the most. After checking his stats, it does look like he’s gotten some substantial playing time this season, but that’s not why he scares me. He scares me because Auburn has this awful ability to let any backup QB look like a Heisman candidate. Seriously, every single backup that plays against Auburn has his coming out party all over the Tigers.

The other guy that scares me is RB Dare Ogunbowale. That’s quite possibly the most frightening name I’ve ever read. Keep him out of my dreams please.

MTB: The numbers say the Badgers have an advantage on the ground, do you believe that to be true and if so why?

WB: At best, I’d call this a wash. Both teams’ strength is their running game, albeit done in completely different fashions. Wisconsin has a bruising running game with a big back that’s able to get away from defenders. Auburn uses misdirection, speed, and a little bit of power with Cameron Artis-Payne. Both teams 1st-string RBs led their conferences in rushing. I’d call it equal. We’ll just have to see how the lines handle each other in the game.

MTB: Some are worried about the fact that our one common opponent, LSU, was a loss for the Badgers and a blowout win for you. Do you take anything away from how the two teams performed in those games?

WB: A little, but not much. A lot has happened since then. I think it could show a little disparity in the conferences, and no I’m not being a SEC homer. Those games are long gone. Wisconsin has won big games since then and Auburn has lost big games since then.

MTB: What are two keys to stopping Malzhan’s offense (if that’s even possible)? 

WB: Cause an early turnover or two. Three of Auburn’s four losses started with a turnover on Auburn’s first offensive play of the game. Defenses are admittedly worried about Gus’s offense so when they are able to get the ball back quickly early in the game, it gives them a shot of confidence. Other than that, if Auburn isn’t making mental mistakes, I have zero idea how to stop it.

MTB: How does the suspension of Duke Williams affect the Auburn offense?

WB: Just a little, if at all. Auburn fans are ecstatic that Duke has announced that he is coming back next season, so they aren’t really bothered by the suspension. The thought is that Sammie Coates, Quan Bray, Ricardo Louis will be just fine when mixed in with the rest of Malzahn’s wizardry.

MTB: Who are your two favorite Badgers of all-time and why?

WB: JJ Watt is one of the most red-blooded American football players of all time. I love watching him play. I love watching him bleed. I love when he’s mic’d up during the games. He is football and should be the NFL MVP this season.

Montee Ball was just that, a bowling ball that could bounce around and roll all over anybody in his path. He is one of the hardest, most bruising runners in college football history. He should’ve won the Heisman in 2011 and definitely should’ve been voted higher than Trent Richardson.

MTB: Do you see the SEC starting to decline in power after this season and why? 

WB: Not really. I think there’s been an emphasis on offense after defense dominated for a decade. Somehow people have attributed higher scores to declining power. The point is to win, not keep your opponents under 10. The SEC will continue to get the best coaches who recruit the best talent for years to come, or until the NCAA realizes we’ve all been cheating this whole time.

MTB: How do you see this game playing out? Who wins and why?

WB: I just have to feel like Auburn is the better team with better talent. I feel like while they hated losing to Alabama, the fact that they were able to score 44 points against that defense was a slight win in itself. Even though he’s not coaching yet, Will Muschamp has the defense more excited than they have been all season. Melvin Gordon is going to be a load, but Ohio State was definitely able to stop him. And the Auburn defense has been pretty good against the run all year. I feel like SEC speed should be the difference, but we all know that bowl games are a different beast. There are lots of factors that can work against a team, and I feel like an interim head coach for the Badgers, mixed with a 59-0 loss the last time they played, will be too much.

I’ll say Auburn 41, Wisconsin 24.

MTB: Wisconsin takes on your hated rival on opening weekend next year. Advice on how to beat Nick Saban’s Tide please.

WB: Go fast. Mix it up. Don’t be intimidated. Early Alabama teams are not the well-oiled machines they turn out to be. And they’ll breaking in yet another quarterback next year. A decent defense should stop them early next season. Please win.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com