No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Auburn Tigers (5-5 SU, 2-7-1 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday November 28th, 3:30PM EST
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium Auburn, A.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ALA -14/AUB +14
Over/Under Total: TBA
This Saturday will mark the 80th edition of the Iron Bowl when the no. 2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide squares off with the Auburn Tigers inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. In recent years, this game has held SEC Championship and National Championship implications for both schools while instantaneously becoming known as the greatest rivalry in college football. The circumstances may be a little different this year as Auburn sports a measly 5-5 record but they could still put an end to Alabamas National Championship run with an upset victory at home this Saturday when the rivalry renews inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
For some reason, the SEC has suffered through a pandemic of bad play at the quarterback position this year. Auburn has not been an exception to that epidemic which has been a big cause towards their setbacks this year on the offensive side of the football. The Tigers had not had the explosiveness nor the consistent prowess on offense this year to circumvent their mediocre defensive play which is the reason they sit at just 5-5 SU. Auburn quarterbacks Sean White and Jeremy Johnson have combined to throw just 9 touchdowns and 9 interceptions for the entire season. As a result, Auburn ranks 109th in passing averaging just 176 yards per game through the air.
For Gus Malzahn, Auburn has had to rely on keeping the ball on the ground primarily behind the legs of running back Peyton Barber. Barber has racked up 947 yards with 13 touchdowns this season. Meanwhile, running back Jovon Robinson has provided a nice boost in recent weeks by picking up 442 yards with 2 touchdowns in the last 4 games. Robinson has given the offense a nice additional weapon along with Barber. However, this offense is still largely one dimensional. The problem that creates this Saturday is that Alabama is one of the best run stop units in the country and it plays right into the war in the trenches that the Crimson Tide typically dominate on a weekly basis.
The Crimson Tide rank 2nd in the country against the run giving up just 77.8 yards per game on the ground. Considering Auburns tendencies on offense this year, this appears on paper as a matchup nightmare for the Tigers. However, this is still a rivalry game and one of the best rivalry games in the country. Therefore, I am sure Auburn will try a few things that we have not seen this year in attempt to create some big play opportunities because they are going to have to find ways to artistically move the football against this tough Alabama defense. The question is will it work?
On the other side of the football, Alabama will stick to their running game and dare Auburn to stop them. Running back Derrick Henry has emerged as a leader in the Heisman Trophy race and he has been nearly unstoppable in recent weeks behind Alabamas stout offensive front. Before last weeks Charleston Southern game where he only touched the ball 9 times because the game was already in hand, Henry rushed for totals of 236, 143, 210, and 204 against the likes of Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, and Mississippi State. I am sure Nick Saban will not take this game lightly despite the fact that Auburn is a two touchdown underdog and as a result I imagine Henry will get his normal heavy workload against a Tigers defense that has given up 180 yards on average this season.
If Auburn does find a way to stop Alabamas offense which is unlikely, it could get interesting if Alabama has to put the game on the arm of quarterback Jake Coker. Coker has been accurate but he has not been called on much either. If this game is close late and Auburn finds a way to stymie this running threat, they could potentially exploit what I believe to be Alabamas biggest vulnerability at the quarterback position. However, Auburn still has to stop the running game to do it and that is going to be a monumental task.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I know it is a rivalry game but I cannot get over the matchup advantage Alabama has here. Take Alabama -14!
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