With the annual showdown with Auburn now just a few days away, much is at stake for the Crimson Tide in the matchup. Win and go on to face Georgia for a play-in game to another BCS National Championship berth. Lose and go to the Capital One bowl.

Here are nine keys to Alabama winning this game:

1. Control Jake Holland. Don’t let the dynamic Auburn middle linebacker control the defensive tempo of the game with his better than average quickness and lateral speed. Don’t let his poor tackling and slow reactions fool you. This guy is a player who, if you’re standing still, can put you on the turf in a relative hurry. If you don’t know where Jake Holland is at all times, there’s somewhat of a chance he could possibly disrupt a slow developing play.

2. Take the Auburn crowd out of the game early. 1,000 fans may not seem like much, but they can really make a racket if Bama doesn’t take control of this game from the get-go. Consequently, that number includes the Tiger band and football team, but still, that’s a lot of people screaming all at once. Gotta take them out.

3. Beat Onterio McCalleb to the sidelines. That sucker is fast, and he runs out of bounds to avoid having to play contact football better than anyone in the game. If the ‘Bama defense isn’t careful he’ll cross the boundry 20-30 times on Saturday.

4. Contain Jonathan Wallace. Auburn’s third attempt at a starting quarterback this season has meant turning to a true freshman from Phenix City, Alabama. This time a year ago Wallace was getting ready to lose to Prattville 45-12 in the Alabama state high school seminfinals…a year later, he’s facing a Nick Saban defense. But don’t get too confident Tide fans: Scout’s 69th overall quarterback on last year’s prospect list has looked remarkable against New Mexico State and Alabama A&M. If the Bama defense doesn’t do its job, Tide fans will wish Wallace had gone to one of the other two schools that offered him, Central Florida and Southern Miss.

5. Make sure Ben Howell brings his game. Once Eddie Lacy, TJ Yeldon, Ken’yon Drake and Brent Calloway get their touches, it’ll be up to the Tide’s cracker fifth string runningback to protect the football and seal the deal. Playing fundamental football and protecting the rock will be a must against an Auburn defense that has proven it can tackle on occasion.

6. Score touchdowns. Auburn’s stingy defense is giving up 26 points a game. But when you take away the Clemson, Mississippi State, Lousiana-Monroe, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Georgia games, that number falls to 11 points a game. Simply put, Alabama has to get touchdowns and not field goals in this game. Otherwise, except for in the Clemson, Mississippi State, LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and Georgia games, this Scott Loeffler offense has proven it can put up points.

7. Find an answer for Jay Prosch. All we heard in the preseason was how dominant this power fullback was going to be in this offensive system, and the pundits were right. His 2012 numbers speak for themselves: 9 carries, 31 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a touchdown every 4.5 carries! One word of advice, Kirby Smart: Know where #35 is when he’s in the game.

8. Focus on the game. If you’re Nick Saban, now is not the time to worry about your job security. Block out all external factors and just focus on the match-up. Everything else takes care of itself.

9. Tackle Tre Mason. The Auburn runner doesn’t have 920 yards in eleven games on 150 carries for no reason. And he has earned every one of those stats late in games against third team defenses when the Tigers have trailed by multiple touchdowns. Simply put, when Auburn calls a play where they give it to Tre Mason, you have to tackle him.

Bottom line, Bama is not going to just walk into Bryant-Denny Stadium in front of a ravenous capacity crowd and just walk out with a win. They’re going to have to earn it against a pesky Auburn team that came close to winning at least two conference games this season.

As fans, if you’re going to the game, you need to enter this game confident, but cautious. Do your part and be loud. But if the Tide doesn’t do what it has to do, shoring up these nine areas of concern, Bama could be in for a long afternoon.

(Follow me on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)

66 thoughts on “9 Keys to Alabama beating Auburn on Saturday”

  1. That young, talented, dealt, reshuffled and dealt again Auburn O-line is a grave concern. They’re beginning to gel at just the right time. Coach Rumph needs to get that senior defensive line fired up and ready to go.

  2. You missed one: Stop Gene Chizik’s masterplan. He has been lulling Nick Saban and Bama into the belief that Auburn isn’t very good by tanking this entire season. Saturday, the real Auburn will show up which could spell doom for this Bama team.

    It’s such a diabolical plan from one of the greatest masterminds ever to coach the game. It might just work too.

  3. OK, first ITK, I feel like I owe you a dollar or a six-pack or something—-I love this article.

    “They’re going to have to earn it against a pesky Auburn team that came close to winning at least two conference games this season.”

    Brilliant. Come on man, I have read this article four times now for free—-it’s the best deal on the internet. Thanks.

    Second, I don’t think any of us are afraid of Auburn this year, but don’t think that should mean we can’t enjoy it just as much.

    I say, as an Alabama fan, I want to revel in every yard we gain against Auburn, to gloat with every sack and every tackle, and to laugh with every interception and touchdown.

    I don’t hate much about any team in football. I didn’t explicitly want Oregon to lose, even though I’m glad they did. I don’t hate Texas A & Manziel no matter how many other players on their team actually have their own names.

    But Auburn?

    I hate the “us against the world” commandment they live by.

    I hate the color combination of orange and blue.

    I hate Pat Dye.

    I hate coaches without upper teeth.

    I hate Cam Newton. No matter how good he was for those six-and-a-half months he’s still just a complete toolbag and he’ll never be a leader of any kind.

    I hate Cam Newton’s statue on Auburn’s campus, too.

    I hate 21-24.

    But I love “NEVER AGAIN…”

    Auburn sucks this year. I know that’s not exactly breaking news, but I hate Auburn and most of their culture.

    Don’t get me wrong, I respect Auburn and its culture (mostly). I just don’t LIKE them one bit, that’s all. I can be civil with my Auburn fan friends 364 days of the year, but when the numbers on the scoreboard look more like a bowling score than a football game this Saturday I hope every Alabama fan enjoys it in spite of Auburn being one of the worst SEC teams I’ve seen in the BCS era.
    I want Alabama to put the dagger in Auburn’s throat and turn it clockwise.
    I want Alabama to have more touchdowns than Auburn has positive yards.
    I want blood.
    I want camera footage of each Auburn fan as they leave Bryant-Denny Stadium more angry with their own football program than with ours. I can’t imagine what that’s like.

    And I want to hear the loudest RAMMER JAMMER of the year Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

    1. I agree with all of my heart that the Aubies are on the back tit for the year and hopefully for years to come, But there is one other team that will rank up there along with the Aubies, and that’s Lousyanna U. I throughly despise that school and its team!! Auburn is only the second team to them that absolutly has no class and respect for anybody else. I would keep Cheesestick at least for another year but I think that will be up to Dye and his cronies………… RTR

      1. I don’t love LSU, but I love that they have an actual identity. LSU are dicks, but they’re proud to be dicks, it’s a core part of their culture. They want to be who they are and give you the middle finger while doing it. If Alabama is classic rock, LSU is power metal. Trick plays are intrinsic to their program, not desperation attempts.

        Auburn doesn’t have that kind of identity. They have blind faith, and their hate is just as blind. Auburn hates everyone but Auburn. LSU just hates everyone who tries to get in their way, but at least they’re never boring.

        I think the LSU game has become a great rivalry. Miles defines their program even though it doesn’t exist in its current state without Nick Saban. But Miles is as perfect a personality fit at LSU as Saban is at Alabama, as is Muschamp at Florida.

        But Chizik? Newton? Malzahn? And now they have completely abandoned the spread? LSU at least has had continued success, albeit not a championship, but Auburn just doesn’t have the kind of identity to support the rabid fanbase they have regardless. At least with LSU I can understand and relate to it. Auburn feels more like Waco, TX.

        1. My God, Conduit – can you start your own blog? This stuff is poetry. I can read this all day. Loving your insights and your ability to put it in words.

          1. @ITK——-I actually have a twin brother, another UA graduate who’s a bigger Alabama fan than me even.

            @pete4tide——–thanks mate. No need to start my own blog—we get to share Capstone Report, what more could I ask for? I have a website and a blog for my professional career, but I leave the Alabama side to the people who know better than I do, and that includes Capstone Report. Roll Tide.

            A friend of mine told me today Alabama is going to euthanize Auburn on Saturday. But euthanize means mercy killing.
            I want nothing to do with mercy on Auburn. Roll Tide.

    2. you know it wasn’t too long ago that I remember a 3-8 Alabama team… They also had a mastermind coach by the name of hmmm.. oh yeah Mike Dubose that guy was a Defensive mastermind

      1. I wish I knew the point you were just trying to make. Sadly I don’t.

        I do know that not too long ago YOUR Mike Dubose (Gene Chiz) was being heralded by your fellow Aubies as being ‘just as good’ as Saban. Hmmmmm. How things change.

        1. Well if you’d take a look at the post i replied to maybe you’d get a clue.

          The conduit:

          I want camera footage of each Auburn fan as they leave Bryant-Denny Stadium more angry with their own football program than with ours. I can’t imagine what that’s like. (I replied hence terrible record from Mike Dubose and the coach carousel that was U of A from the late 90’s to the early 2000’s and I knew a lot of frustrated U of A fans at that time that were more angry at their program than ours.. while we won 6 in a row)

          enjoys it in spite of Auburn being one of the worst SEC teams I’ve seen in the BCS era. (Look at Kentucky, Vandy, and UT not like any of them have had 2 undefeated seasons and a NC in the BCS era)

          I never reveled The Chiz as being an answer to our head coach vacancy a few years ago. shit I wish we would have kept Tubbs (Even though he was prone to lay an egg every once in a while we played hard nose disciplined football). JJ is a dumb ass for giving him that huge extension a couple years ago. makes me wonder if he’s also getting a piece of it.

          But you know keep to you bama ways.. y’all forget so fast

          1. I haven’t forgot “fear the thumb”. That is why no pity will be shown to Auburn on this blog.

            You reap what you sow….

          2. @alumni

            Good grief.

            Seriously. Good grief.

            Look, if you want to play the history game we can do that all day.

            This year’s Auburn team IS one of the worst in the SEC through the BCS era. Vanderbild didn’t have an undefeated season in the BCS like Auburn did….but I didn’t claim they did either. Vanderbilt has taken Auburn’s win record this year and MULTIPLIED IT.

            Does Kentucky even HAVE a rival in the SEC in football?

            If all you can do is try to twist what people say into insults that you are compelled to defend, it’s no wonder nothing has changed at Auburn. Yes, Alabama had terrible years. I was there at the time even. And I complained. And I went to games. And I showed my support.

            But don’t tell me I was angry at Alabama. I knew better. HIstory had already taught me that.

            That’s what bugs me the most about Auburn’s culture——the whole “us against the world” mantra puts the blame on everyone else. Auburn is bad but Alabama has been worse, or Auburn is bad but at least blah blah blah.
            How about Auburn is bad and I’m going to do something about it? I can’t imagine what it’s like to just go to Auburn blogs and complain about Auburn when Alabama is in the dumps. I can’t relate to that.

            But I can tell you it’s not helping, and it defines the core culture of Auburn’s allegiance. Us against the world.


            This is 2012. If you want in 8 years we can come back here and I’ll point to this year’s Iron Bowl again and point and laugh. But that’s just not me. That’s not Alabama. We have history, but the difference is we also have a future.

  4. Good God, was that really Housel talking? I guess it’s true then, senility strikes someone every 5 minutes. Gonna sleep real good this week. Bwaa Haww Haww! RTR!

    1. Congratulations on beating Vanderbilt this year. That ought to put Franklin in his place.

      Oh crud. Wait.

    2. How do you even have the nerve crawl out from under your rock? Oh, I guess you have to be a barner fan right now because if it wasn’t for them and Kentucky you would be the only team in the sec without a conference win. Go suck a big orange dick cheese.

  5. Really, Vol – way to ride on the Auburn stick. Sorry you chose a team that is more pathetic than your own.

  6. Hey Idiot Vol, congrats on getting your ass stomped by the best team in Tennessee. Now tuck them nuts away cause Tucky’s coming to town. Bwaa Hawe Haww! RTR!

  7. Dam i listen to one minute and had to turn off!!! Let”s not take this game lightly because we all no this is rival week..So coach get these men ready and let”s kick Aubie”s ass..Does anyone think Aubie will score?? I”m going off the chain as usual and say no they do not score!!! 38 O !! RTR

  8. ITK as usual a very good write up!! Keep up the great work and staying on top of things..Hard for me to find things out about the Tide living in Loserana…ROLL TIDE ROLLLLLL!!

  9. bama d has to play physical do not be deceived they have not played physical they play box u in and hand tackle only lester is consistent with the wood….playing not to lose playing not to put a helmet and shoulder in protecting nfl careers has got to stop

  10. What Conduit said. I hate we can only play them once this year RTR. By the way if truth is reading I have some capital one tix for sale

    1. Don’t beat up on Truth. It’s hard knowing Bama is ready to shelve its 3rd natty since LSU limped into a 2-loss BCS championship in ’07.

  11. I hate that they suck so badly. Couldnt they bring in anyone who might make this a contest? Nothing good other than bragging can come from playing this cupcake.

    1. @almightymc——–Don’t discount the Iron Bowl just because Auburn’s cheerleaders are tougher than their football program this year. The Iron Bowl always matters, and every victory over Auburn is important.

      I hear you, but don’t let that be the reason. People who aren’t Alabama fans will give you grief over beating a terrible Auburn team. Who cares?

      I care.

      I care about beating Auburn no matter what. This game is important to the Alabama teammates. This game is incredibly important to the Auburn players who are committed to giving it a try. And they will try.

      Whether Auburn is #1 or #120 it should feel just as good when the score requires multiplication on the Auburn offense to figure out how many touchdowns they have to score to catch up to Alabama.

      Listen to me. Enjoy the game. Auburn sucks. That’s not a bad thing. Enjoy every yard. This is Alabama football. For a mere two hours a year out of nearly 9,000 we get to put elbows and helmets in Auburn’s stomach. It’s shorter than Christmas. Enjoy it. Roll Tide.

      1. This is a dangerous game. Not because I think Auburn can win. But BECAUSE they have nothing to lose. I have seen a history of cheap shots from Auburn. Get the game on ice and get the starters out.

    1. Auburn and at least 3 of 5 refs gave LSU all they could handle. That, and Mett having the worst game of his life to that point. Don’t think that Bama will come into this game with the mindset that Aub will drop dead just seeing them. However, do I believe that it will be a more difficult game than last week after the 2 quarter? Nope – Aub is known for giving up after a 2 touchdown lead by the opponent all year. They will be playing the yellow jersies by the end of the game, and they will still score on the Barn.

    2. So did Towson give LSU fits. LSU spent the whole season bent on revenge for the BCS game and overlooked almost everyone.

  12. Thanks for this amusing piece; you are very witty!

    Hopefully the inevitable crushing of the Tigers that will occur in the 2012 Iron Bowl will convince Auburn’s administration to reboot the entire football staff (and maybe portions of the athletic department as well). This season was a shameful display of ineptitude that I will never forget as long as I live (though I wish I could).

    War Eagle anyway! There’s always Auburn basketball. Oh, wait…

    1. Hang in there Kenneth. All kidding aside, sometimes it takes a year like Auburn has had this season to understand the drastic measures that are necessary to pull themselves up from the mire.

      It took four years of continued mediocrity for those in charge at Alabama to FINALLY pull the trigger on what needed to be done. That was, hire the best, pay the most, and stay the heck out of his way.

      The issue there is whether or not the Pat Dyes, Jimmy Ranes and other powerbrokers will do the latter. Sometimes hiring the best and paying the most is a lot easier than putting egos aside and staying out of the man’s way.

      Anyway, it’ll get better down in Auburn. We hope not anytime soon, but there will definitely be brighter days ahead.

  13. This is to you, the cult of rednecks from bammer land who will comb their mullets and get excited about beating a team that is 2-8. All of you are LOSERS, lololol.

    1. @CaptainRB————clearly you don’t understand the Alabama/Auburn rivalry that is the Iron Bowl.

      Sorry about Vanderbilt.

      1. HAHA, not a Vol here. My team only has 1 loss too. Iron Bowl or not it doesn’t change the lowest class fan base in college football, the fans from bammerland.

        rowl tahhhd, lol, hicks

        1. No wonder you don’t understand the Iron Bowl.

          Leave playing the greatest rivalry in the sport and winning championships to us. We understand if you can’t relate.

          Sorry about your loss.

          Roll Tide.

          1. I’m guessing Clemson. Who, for what it’s worth, I think are underrated. They beat the ACC-busting NC State by setting all-time school and ACC records including the best regular season record since they won a national title in 1981.


            Then again, I could be wrong. Could be a loss to Baylor.

            Sorry about that, too.

            Roll Tide.

          2. No its not Clemson either, haha. The only thing I will leave to you is the one tooth brushing at which you have all become an expert. You can win all the phony “championships” you want and it wont give your fans more class or more teeth. That’s what really bothers you.

            Sorry for your loss to TAMU, you couldn’t even protect your own house against a Freshman QB.

        1. #1 CaptainRB -> You are an Aubie. Don’t be ashamed (I know its hard). Grow a pair.

          #2 ZDAuburn -> You’re comment is worthless. We are competing for our 3 NC in 4 years. So, yes….the LA-M game is a fading memory. Now go back to being Vanderbilt’s bitch.

  14. Not sure then.

    Me? I’m proud of my one-loss team. I’m very proud to be an Alabama fan.

    Sorry about all the “championships.” It’s what we do and we’re not going to stop, so maybe I’m not really sorry after all. But I am sorry it bothers you so much.

    Manziel got Alabama on the one week of the year he had a chance. If you can’t respect what they were able to do, it means we have to assume your team is not even in the SEC. I’m not sure how you ended up here bashing the defending national championship-winning Alabama Crimson Tide on their way to the BCS title game in back-to-back years and for the 3rd time in four years instead of being able to stand up for whatever one-loss team you want us to think you care about, but I can’t say I’m surprised.

    Again, sorry about your loss. And I’m sorry you’ve never been to Tuscaloosa. It’s brilliant.

    1. Conduit, if it’s one thing I’ve learned in all my travels it’s this:
      Stupid people are just stupid.

      Thank you for your efforts to help the weak and feeble in the football I.Q. world though. You are an ambassador to all who can’t help themselves. A beacon, of sorts.

    2. Yet you still couldn’t defend your own house from a Freshman QB. What I cant respect is claiming to be a top program and making excuses every time you lose. ” It’s the only week he could win”, that’s classic redneck bammer excuses. It’s easy to bash you hicks, it doesn’t even take any effort.

      1. I also said I respected what Texas A & Manziel were able to do in Tuscaloosa and that you should too.

        Look, aside from the fact that it’s totally off-topic I’m going to try to keep this short.

        I’m not making excuses. But everyone loses football games. Alabama knows that best. Not everyone is (sometimes ever) in a position to be in a championship or conference title game.

        Most programs lose their championship dreams in the first month of the season. Like Texas A&Manziel.

        Some teams lose their dreams much later in the year. Alabama losing to Florida in the SEC title game in 2008 after an undefeated regular season was one of those times.

        Losing to Texas A&M wasn’t. Capstone Report even posted an article last week explaining why if you’d like to read it.

        I don’t like Johnny Manziel because he turns his back on his defense and because I don’t like teams like TAMU 2012 or Auburn 2010 that rely on magic tricks (deception) and artificial formations to protect the one player they can’t live without. I’m more of a team-work guy, but that’s what I grew up on. But I don’t hate TAMU for the defeat. Don’t mistake the two for making excuses, and don’t mistake Johnny Manziel being a freshman for not being able to have talent. There’s a reason they’re talking about him an awful lot for the Heisman as a freshman, too. It’s not a coincidence, and it’s not me who makes this stuff up.

        Again, sorry about your loss. I can’t imagine what it’s like not to be fighting for championships and titles.

        1. So auburn shutting your offense down to just 3 points in the second half of the ’10 iron bowl was deception or magic tricks to protect Cam? that doesn’t make sense. Seems to me that nick fairley and the auburn D stepped up for some team play

        2. and A&M’s o-line shut down any pass rush that bama had against them a couple weeks ago, and didn’t they force some turnovers on defense? sounds like team play more than deception or “magic tricks”. Maybe your football IQ is just substantially lower than your actual. Which is fairly believable by reading your few posts here. damn gumps

          1. Respond to the whole post, alum – the point was that JFF was THE team. A loss of that one position in any game they played this year, and the year was gone. Even so, it took until halfway through the season for them to gel to the point that they COULD protect their QB to the degree they needed to (his mobility was the strongest factor in this – much like Michigan), along with Bama having their worst game of the season. The point was that the timing of this game was as important as JFF’s play, and at any other time during the season, it’s a lopsided victory for Bama in that game. I still feel we have some questions to be answered in the secondary against Murray with UGA, but I also think we will answer them with a victory. AU needs to just hope for some help next year, that they get a real coaching staff and not this same set of pretenders, and that at least some of their current recruits decide to stay and make the best of a couple of losing seasons.

          2. Well I don’t think you could say at any other point this year. beginning of season maybe… In college station might have been more lopsided. ( Boils down to coulda shoulda woulda. Can’t base victories off teams play in previous weeks.)

            Worst game of the year by Alabama? I dunno I thought they looked worst again LSU. Granted it was on the road in Death Valley which is a hard victory any way you look at it. Four extremely bad play calls by miles gave that game to y’all.

            PS I thought you were responding to the whole post what about the auburn D shutting you down in the ’10 IB?

          3. Don’t ask me to consider lining up four tackles on the right edge of the field 40 feet away from the football and hiking it with 29 seconds left on the play clock as not being deceptive. It’s meant to be deceptive. Sumlin would tell you that himself.

            But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, and it doesn’t mean TAMU wins anything without Manziel.

            But again, it’s off-topic, and now you’re bringing up the 2010 Iron Bowl? Cam Newton was just as important to Auburn as Manziel is to TAMU. Nobody’s making excuses, but don’t expect anyone to like it. Nobody’s saying TAMU and Auburn didn’t play well in those games, but you’re not going to let me say Alabama made huge mistakes either. Can’t win here. Just have to win on the football field.

            Fortunately, we do that quite a lot. Roll Tide. I’ll send a postcard from Miami when you’re at home lying to your friends that you’re not watching the title game.

      2. CaptainRB (The Auburn Man) -> You hate Alabama…we get it.

        The Winners are always hated….which makes us feel good!

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