No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. No. 6 Auburn Tigers (9-2 SU, 5-5-1 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Saturday November 25th, 2017. 3:30PM (EST)
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium Auburn, A.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ALA -4.5/AUB +4.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5
The fate of the SEC West will be decided this Saturday in the iconic Iron Bowl when the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide faceoff with the no. 6 Auburn Tigers on the Plains inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. Once again the Iron Bowl carries monumental implications for both Alabama and Auburn as SEC and potential National Championship possibilities remain in reach. So far this season, Alabama has been unscathed with a perfect 11-0 record and has appeared unbeatable nearly every week. However, they will face their biggest challenge of the season this week with a trip to the Plains against an Auburn time that is emerging as one of the best teams in the country.
Despite an early loss to no. 3 Clemson and a midseason loss to LSU, the table is still set for Auburn to earn a trip to the SEC Championship and potentially the College Football Playoffs if they can win these next two games. The Tigers made this possible by destroying no. 1 Georgia two weeks ago in a 40-17 blowout inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. In recent weeks, Auburns offense has seemingly reached their potential. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham has posted stellar numbers with 8 touchdowns in the last 3 games compared to just 1 interception while hitting over 70% of his passes.
Meanwhile the Auburn rushing attack has remained as potent as ever averaging over 244 yards per game on the ground. Running back Kerryon Johnson leads the SEC in rushing with 1,172 yards and 16 touchdowns. Johnson deserves some consideration for SEC Player of the Year accomplishing these numbers after missing two games earlier this year. In the last 7 games, Johnson has averaged over 150 yards per game and has been vital to Auburns reemergence. This Auburn offense strives off their running game meaning it is imperative that opportunities are created for Johnson in this game. When Auburn is moving the chains with the ground game, plays open up for Stidham and this passing game.
Obviously that is easier said than done because Alabama talent and physical attributes have always been extremely strong against the run defensively. The Alabama defense is 2nd against the run again this year allowing just 87 yards per game on the ground. As a total defense, they rank 1st in almost all other categories allowing just 244 yards and 10 points per game. In many ways it appears that Alabama matches up well against Auburns offense strengths with their strong defensive front. However, this is the same defense that struggled heavily in the road trip to Mississippi State just a few weeks ago giving up 97 yards and 2 touchdowns to Bulldogs running back Aeris Williams and another 66 yards with a score to quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Therefore, it will be very telling to see how this Auburn offense and Alabama defense matchup unfolds on Saturday.
On the other side of the ball, I have been openly critical of Alabamas offense at times this year. They are once again very strong between the tackles with running backs Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough, and quarterback Jalen Hurts. However, this offense has lacked the big play potential. Whether that is attributed to the arm of Jalen Hurts, more conservative play call, and/or a mixture of other reasons, the big plays just have not been there for the Crimson Tide this year.
The good news is that Alabama is not necessarily big play dependent to win football games but it will be interesting to see if they can survive another big road game. They barely escaped the road trip to Starkville and this game should be even tougher. One thing I do like about what Alabama has done in recent weeks is that they have put more focus towards WR Calvin Ridley. Ridley is a big play receiver and has been underused this season. In the last two games, Ridley has racked up 273 yards with a touchdown and I expect him to remain a point of focus when Alabama goes to the air because he continues to create mismatch opportunities in the passing game.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I have been waiting for this game for a few weeks because I felt like Auburn has a great shot to score the win. I think the fact this line opened so low confirms Auburns chances. Therefore, I will ride with the Tigers and the hot offense. Take Auburn +4.5. – Bet this game for FREE by taking advantage of a FAT 100% bonus up to $1000 at MyBookie! (Use Promo Code: PRDCT14)