By Tony Carter
The #2 ranked in the BCS Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1) takes on the weekend the 24th ranked Auburn Tigers (7- 4). Saturday’s game marks the 76th meeting between the Crimson Tide and Tigers. Alabama leads the series 40-34-1, however losing last year’s meeting 28-27 in a come-from-behind victory by Auburn.
After coming off last week’s game in which the Crimson Tide gave up its most yardage of the year, the Alabama football team looks to rebound defensively against Auburn this weekend. Auburn’s offense comes into the game averaging over 180 yards/game on the ground while the nation’s #1 ranked defense is giving up over 100 yards less (74 yards/game). On the other side, Auburn’s defense is allowing 193 yards per game while Alabama is averaging just over 220 yards per game. Interior line success should play a heavy role as the game progresses.
Auburn must find a way to convince the Tide defense that they’re a threat with the deep pass to make room for the running game. And then when Auburn is on defense, the Tigers hope that Alabama doesn’t decide to pass. Auburn is the league’s worst against the pass.
If the Tigers struggle to have any sort of a passing attack and are forced to reduce the flag football playbook of Gus Malzahn, it could be long day for the AU offense as a whole.
Keys to the game: Watch for a big day for Alabama Crimson Tide rushers most notably UA LB Courtney Upshaw against AU tackles.
Moseley has been sacked 14 times already in his short tenure this year. The Auburn offensive line must give Moseley adequate time to find receivers. Auburn over the past few Iron Bowls has reduced UA running backs rushing production substantially. The Alabama offensive line appears to be as healthy as a unit as they have been in several weeks. If Alabama can get the run game going early, it should open up the AU defense for big play possibilities off play action.
Historically, this game has been extremely tight, as 19 of past 23 have been decided by 10 or fewer points. This year, however, on paper this game shows the Tide having a significant advantage in almost all major statistics.
Storyline: The Tide has a distinct recollection of last year’s game and is hungry to wipe that from the memories. Don’t expect this Alabama football team to come into the game looking ahead…this game is the season. No dime packages for entire 2nd halves of games (which proved to be the undoing of last year’s fallout), expect 3-4 base (aggressive) defensive scheme. Also, Richardson and Lacy should have big days. Don’t be surprised to see McCarron have one of his best games ever as Auburn will inevitably bring one or two more into the box if UA run game is as successful as anticipated.
Prediction Alabama 34 Auburn 17