The Auburn Tigers will finish the 2018 season in Nashville, where they meet Big Ten opponent Purdue in the Franklin American Music City Bowl. The game is at 1:30 ET Dec. 28 in Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
Here are 5 things to know about Purdue:
1. How the Boilermakers got here
After losing their first three games of the season by a combined eight points, the Boilermakers rebounded in a big way. Purdue blew out then-No. 23 Boston College, 30-13, then capped a four-game winning streak with one of the most dramatic and decisive game of the college football season.
Purdue routed eventual B1G champions Ohio State, 49-20, at home, probably knocking the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff. The Boilermakers followed with a 38-36 victory over then-No. 19 Iowa, but stumbled to the finish by losing two of their last three games.
2. Their best offensive player is senior QB David Blough
Second in the B1G in passing, Blough threw for 3,521 yards this season. He started very slowly, throwing for just 74 yards against Northwestern in the season opener then 48 yards in a loss to Eastern Michigan.
But he was turned loose in the third game of the season and threw for a career-high 572 yards against Missouri in a 40-37 loss. Blough failed to reach 275 yards just once the rest of the season (142 at Minnesota).
Blough punctuated the season by throwing for 310 yards in a 28-21 victory at Indiana. He threw for three touchdowns to give him 25 in 2018, matching his career best set in 2016.
3. Their best defensive player is junior LB Markus Bailey
The fourth-leading tackler in the conference, Bailey surpassed 100 tackles with seven in the regular season finale. Five times this season, Bailey recorded double digit tackles, including a season-high 15 in the upset of then-No. 2 Ohio State. He had the last TD in that game, a 41-yard interception return.
Bailey tallied eight tackles for loss, including five sacks, this season. He turned in season highs in tackles for loss (2.5) and sacks (1.5) against Eastern Michigan.
4. Their history with the SEC
Purdue is 2-5 all-time against the SEC, including 1-2 in bowl games. Purdue has never played Auburn. The Boilermakers are 1-1 vs. Missouri, including this season’s 40-37 loss to the Tigers. They are 1-0 against Tennessee, defeating the Vols 27-22 in the 1979 Bluebonnet Bowl.
The Boilermakers have also faced Georgia twice in bowl games, losing both. Purdue dropped a 28-25 decision in the Outback Bowl following the 1999 season, and fell 34-27 in overtime to the Bulldogs in the Capital One Bowl after the 2003 season.
5. Worth noting
Purdue has won three of its last four bowl games, dating back to the 2007 Motor City Bowl, where the Boilermakers edged Central Michigan 51-48. Since then, Purdue has defeated Western Michigan in a 37-32 shootout (2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl), lost 58-14 to Oklahoma State (2013 Heart of Dallas Bowl), and held off Arizona 38-35 (2017 Foster Farms Bowl).