Tigers to make record-tying sixth appearance, Wildcats to make second
Courtesy of Florida Citrus Sports/AU Athletics
The No. 14 Northwestern Wildcats (6-2, 6-2 Big Ten) and the Auburn Tigers (6-4, 6-4 SEC) will meet in the 2021 Vrbo Citrus Bowl. Florida Citrus Sports Chairman Ken Robinson and CEO Steve Hogan announced the matchup on Dec. 20 on behalf of the organization.
The 75th edition of the game will take place at 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 1 at Camping World Stadium and will be televised nationally by ABC. The game will mark the second-ever meeting between the Wildcats and Tigers and the first since Auburn’s overtime victory over Northwestern at the 2010 Outback Bowl.
This season’s Vrbo Citrus Bowl will mark Auburn’s sixth appearance in the game, tied with Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Penn State for the most all-time. Auburn is 3-2 in its five previous trips, with the most recent coming in 2006. The Wildcats are making their second Vrbo Citrus Bowl appearance and their first since the 1997 game, a loss to a Peyton Manning-led Tennessee squad.
Northwestern ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense, allowing 15.5 points per game. The Wildcats’ pass defense is also among the strongest in the country and has held opponents to 182.2 passing yards per game, good for 14th nationally. Linebackers Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher lead the Wildcats defense with 65 total tackles each on the season, while Brandon Joseph, the nation’s leader in interceptions with six, anchors the secondary.
Offensively, the Wildcats are paced by quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who threw for 1,218 yards and nine touchdowns this year while also adding two rushing touchdowns. Drake Anderson (256 yards and two touchdowns) and Isiah Bowser (229 yards and one touchdown) lead the Wildcats rushing attack, while Kyrie McGowan (366 yards) and Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman (344 yards and four touchdowns) pace the Wildcats receiving corps.
The Auburn offense is led by quarterback Bo Nix, who ranks in the top 25 nationally and top five in the SEC in passing yards (2,123) and has 18 total touchdowns (11 passing, seven rushing) this season. Freshman standout Tank Bigsby is Auburn’s top-producing running back with 834 yards and five rushing scores, while Seth Williams (688 yards and four touchdowns) and Anthony Schwartz (636 yards and three touchdowns) lead the Tigers wideouts.
The Tigers enter this matchup allowing an average of 23.7 points and 400.9 total yards per game on the season and have held opposing offenses to just 163.1 rushing yards per game. Zakoby McClain leads the team with 102 tackles, while linebackers Colby Wooden (9.5 tackles for loss, four sacks) and Derick Hall (five tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks) have also had strong seasons.
A limited number of Vrbo Citrus Bowl tickets are available at bigtime.games/tickets. Seats are available in clusters of two, four, six or eight, with physical distancing implemented between pods.
Florida Citrus Sports and the City of Orlando are also implementing additional procedures to ensure the safety of guests and staff members at Camping World Stadium events. To learn more about these protocols, visit floridacitrussports.com/covid.