With each passing day it’s looking like Auburn’s opponent in the Peach Bowl may be moving toward having a home field advantage. While the University of Central Florida set a record by buying up the school’s entire allotment of tickets in less than 24 hours, Auburn has yet to sell their total after nine days. The university offered tickets to scholarship donors first and then a few days later to smaller donors who participate in the Tigers Unlimited Fund. Now today the school has opened ticket sales to the general public.
Auburn has a reputation for traveling well and I expect fans would have bought up their allotment within hours had the Tigers been placed in the Cotton or Orange Bowls. Many Auburn fans are just not excited about making yet another trip to Atlanta since the school has played there seven times since 2007, including this year’s SEC Championship game.
So at this point, it’s looking like the Tigers may be playing in front of another hostile crowd similar in size and determination as Georgia brought to the Benzs two weeks ago.
While this will be only the second time UCF’s has played in a New Year’s Day Bowl, most of their fans enthusiasm comes from feeling slighted about not being selected for the college football playoff. And they have a good argument too. At 12-0 UCF is the only undefeated Division I team in the country yet, was not even ranked in the Top 10 finishing the season at No.12.
Their coach Scott Frost is the National Coach of the Year and although he was hired by Nebraska, he plans to coach in the Peach Bowl. In addition, the Knights were the nation’s top scoring offense during the regular season (49.4). And McKenzie Milton is one of the best quarterbacks in the country with a passing effiency (183.5) that ranks second only to Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. Milton threw for close to 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2017. Some Heisman voters even voted for him over Oklahoma’s Mayfield.
The Knights feel like they have a lot to prove, and their high scoring offense will be a challenge for the Tigers. Auburn will need as many fans as they can get in the Mercedes Benz’s Stadium to help pull the Tigers through. Coach Malzahn recognizes the challenge. “They’ve got a lot of weapons,” Gus said. “[And] any time you’re undefeated, that is a very, very special thing. So they’ve got everything going for them.”
Hopefully Tiger fans are just looking on the open market for better deals and will still show up strong. Besides all the UCF mania over playing on the big stage doesn’t necessarily mean Auburn will not have plenty of fans there. In addition, the largest Auburn alumni contingent outside of the state of Alabama resides in Atlanta. So hopefully that will translate to a large Orange and Blue crowd on January 2nd.
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