The James E. Foy, V-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy will be on the line in Saturday’s much-anticipated Iron Bowl matchup between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers. Few rivalries in any sport measure up to the heat between these two teams. If you don’t live in the southeastern section of the country, I’d encourage you to call up a friend in Tennessee or Alabama and ask them about the magnitude of this game.
The Crimson Tide rolled over Arkansas in their last outing, but it wasn’t enough to cover as 20.5-point favorites. Auburn couldn’t cover against South Carolina, either. In fact, they fell in defeat as 6.5-point favorites.
Strange things happen to Alabama in AuburnThe only sure thing is the fact that there are no sure things when Alabama travels to Auburn to play at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Strange things seem to happen every time these two teams get together. Two of the best examples in recent memory are the 2019 game where Mac Jones threw two pick-sixes to lose the game and the fated kick-six play in 2013.
So you can imagine coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide won’t be overlooking the 6-5 Tigers on Saturday, even without Bo Nix on the field.
But don’t mistake concern for fear, either.
Alabama is far and away the better football team here. Auburn is coming into this thing on three straight losses with a suspect secondary. The group in the back has given up 19 touchdown passes this season with opposing quarterbacks averaging a 66.7 completion percentage.
Oh, Bryce Young is going to eat in this game.
The Heisman Trophy candidate’s marksmanship was John Wick level against Arkansas—559 passing yards and five touchdowns. And then there’s Will Anderson.
The star linebacker for the Crimson Tide has served up more pancakes than an IHOP griddle in the offensive backfield. With Henry To’oTo’o at his side, this linebacking corps is going to make life difficult on both TJ Finley and running back Tank Bigsby. Opposing teams are only averaging 85.9 rushing yards per game against Alabama this season.
Can Auburn pull off an upset?Shots have already been fired earlier in the week with Bo Nix accusing the zebras of siding with Alabama in key situations in games. I’ll let you be the judge of whether it was warranted or not, but the fact remains that Nix won’t be on the field for this game. So that takes a little fun out of the comments.
But you have to believe Alabama has them posted on their growing list of bulletin board material.
Auburn doesn’t care because they have nothing to lose in this matchup. They’re supposed to get pounded into the ground by the Crimson Tide as 19.5-point dogs. Backup quarterback TJ Finley can go out there and play with freedom.
Alabama’s defense is good when it wants to be, but it also has a tendency to give up a big play every now and then. Finley doesn’t need to try to do too much in this game. Let’s set some parameters for “freedom.” He doesn’t need to be forcing prayer passes into coverage out of desperation to make a play. This game should be all about hitting whoever he sees in stride and racking up whatever chunks of yardage he can get, even if it’s consistently small.
Keep in mind, the offense won’t have wideout Kobe Hudson for this matchup.
They can make up for it by leaning on the 208-pound battering ram in the offensive backfield, running back Tank Bigsby. If they can get him going, so much can happen for Auburn’s offense. Of course, he’ll be running into a brick wall of an Alabama defensive front.
The real trouble spot for the Tigers will likely come on the defensive side of the ball. How in the world are they going to slow down Bryce Young and that potent Alabama offense? The defense for Auburn hasn’t been terrible by any stretch, but they also aren’t making enough game-breaking plays needed to knock off the No. 3-ranked team in the country. This isn’t a situation where the Tigers are just going to line up and beat the Tide in a nice, clean game of football.
No, they need turnovers!
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Things have been too close for comfort for this Alabama team.
No one is denying the talent. Bryce Young is a Heisman candidate, Jameson Williams looks like he’s being shot out of a cannon and Will Anderson is making opposing quarterbacks do snow angels in the dirt. But Alabama is the fourth-most penalized team in the SEC, and the defense goes hot and cold as quickly as a facet.
Jordan-Hare Stadium has regularly served as a house of horrors for Nick Saban’s Tide regardless of records. Even without Bo Nix on the field, the Tigers will show up to play and give Alabama the fight I’m already sure they’re expecting.
Reason and logic never works when the rivalry is this deep-seeded. Young talked about going into a Tuscaloosa Wal-Mart and seeing a guy get the stank-eye for wearing Auburn attire.
Sweet home Alabama, I guess. But yes, it really is that deep.
The Tide is still rolling to a victory in this game, make no mistake. Young is going to have his way with Auburn’s defensive backfield, but the defense will manage to get off the field enough without giving up touchdowns to keep things respectable. That 19.5-point line is a bit too much considering the location of this matchup.
Alabama is making a habit of not covering, and this Auburn team is no pushover. Give me the points on Saturday.
Full-Game Total Pick
I’m looking at this thing as more of a 38-20 game for Alabama, which would send them over the total in this matchup. Bryce Young will put on a passing clinic with Auburn’s defensive front doing better than expected against the run. The Tigers are only allowing an average of 132.3 yards per game on 3.6 yards per carry this season. But man, that Alabama passing offense is sizzling with Young throwing to Jameson Williams and John Metchie III. It isn’t quite Mac Jones to DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle level, but it’s still one of the most terrifying receiving tandems in the country. Alabama is second in the nation with an average of 44.4 points per game. Take the over in this one.