No. 14 Auburn Tigers (8-3 SU, 4-7 ATS) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1 SU, 2-8-1 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date and Time: Saturday November 29th, 2014. 7:45PM EST
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Auburn +9.5/Alabama -9.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
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The stage has been set once again for the infamous Iron Bowl to have major implications towards this years National Championship picture when the 14th ranked Auburn Tigers go into Tuscaloosa for a showdown with the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. While many schools may make claim towards having the greatest rivalry in college football, most would unanimously agree that no other rivalry has had more meaning in recent years than the Iron Bowl. The winner of this game has advanced to play for a National Championship in each of the last 5 years and Alabama will have the opportunity to keep that trend going yet again this Saturday.
The 2013 edition of the Iron Bowl is still firmly sketched in college football fans memories as one of the greatest games of all-time. Both Auburn and Alabama were in the National Championship hunt last year in the season finale on the Plains. After a great back and forth game, Alabamas game winning field goal attempt was returned 108 yards by Auburns Chris Davis in one of the most stunning walk-off game winners in college football history. From a fan standpoint, we can only hope that the 2014 edition of the Iron Bowl possesses at least half of the excitement as last years great matchup.
The Crimson Tide (10-1 SU) is currently listed as 9.5 point favorites over the Tigers (8-3 SU). Until just a few weeks ago, this game appeared as if it would carry National Championship implications for both teams. However Auburn fell victim to a surprising upset against Texas A&M at home and then suffered another loss the new week at Georgia. The Tigers are no longer in the playoff picture but they could still have the pleasure of knocking Alabama out of the playoff race with a victory this weekend.
Neither team has been impressive as of late for bettors. Alabama is just 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games while Auburn is just 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games. Alabama has played much better as of late with their overtime win in Baton Rouge followed by their victory against No.1 Mississippi State. While Auburn has not been as sharp in recent weeks, one thing that we know is that you can throw most trends out the window when these two powerhouses square off.
Instead this game will be decided by the play on both sides of the football. Offensively both Alabama and Auburn can be lethal scoring threats. Alabamas offense has been reformed this season with new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and the dual threat capability of Blake Sims. What was once just a power rushing attack, is now a balanced attack between both the run and the pass. The Crimson Tide still run the football very well with tailbacks T.J Yeldon and Derrick Henry. However, Sims and WR Amari Cooper have given a big boost to the Alabama passing attack this season which has added to their overall production. Both Yeldon and Cooper were dinged up last week, but are listed as probable for Saturdays contest.
Auburns offense has been just as good this season as both teams average 35 points per game. The Tigers have stayed true to their form under Gus Malzahn with the option-read rushing attack. The Tigers have averaged a healthy 266 yards per game on the ground. The bulk of those yards have been a product of quarterback Nick Marshall and tailback Cameron Artis-Payne. The two talented rushers have racked up 11 touchdowns each on the ground this season and have combined for more than 2,000 yards. Artis-Payne owns the majority of that success on the ground with 1,405 rushing yards which leads the SEC.
Auburns rushing success has been undeniable this season and it has allowed Marshall several opportunities to make plays down the field with his arm. Marshall has done a fairly good job throwing the football for 1,859 yards with 15 touchdowns and 6 picks. Considering Alabamas defensive strength is stopping the run, Marshall may be more heavily relied upon this weekend. The Crimson Tide defense has held opponents to just 84 yards per game. Obviously Auburn is a tougher type of team to stop on the ground but the point is they will likely need to capitalize on plays in the passing game to contend for a victory especially if the Auburn defense continues to struggle.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think this is a pretty even match-up despite the fact Alabama will have the home field advantage. Auburn will make enough plays to give their selves a shot at the victory. Take Auburn +9.5