PREVIEW: The Iron Bowl
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PREVIEW: The Iron Bowl

Tale as old as time in a must-win game

13
PREVIEW: The Iron Bowl
Sbnation.com

As Alabama head coach Nick Saban once said:

“In rivalry games, throw out the strategy, throw out the record, throw out the game plan, whoever wants it more will win.”

That is exactly what fans from both sides should see on Saturday, as the Alabama Crimson Tide travels west to face the Auburn Tigers in the 80th showdown of the Iron Bowl.

While Alabama (10-1) comes into the game a heavy favorite, it is hard to imagine they don’t have a bit of a chip on their shoulder when traveling to Jordan-Hare Stadium. Last time Alabama played in Auburn, instead of detailing for the tie, Saban went for the win and entered “the kick six." Not only was Alabama left out of the National Championship, but they also watched their in-state rivals represent the SEC in Pasadena against Florida State. Needless to say, it is a big day for Alabama.

“It’s always been a big dream of mine,” said senior quarterback, Jake Coker, who grew up in Mobile. “Playing in this game means a lot to me.”

While the Auburn Tigers (6-5) have not had the season they expected, they still can be spoilers to Alabama’s playoff hopes once again. With the offense starting to find a rhythm under freshman quarterback, Sean White, and the defense led by Carl Lawson, the Tigers could make some noise in front of their hometown.

Will Alabama secure themselves for the SEC Championship? Can Auburn pull another miracle play out at Jordan-Hare Stadium? Let’s dive in and see who wins the 80th matchup of College football’s top rivalry.

WHAT TO KNOW


Date: Saturday, November 28

Time: 2:30 p.m. CT

Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Alabama

TV: CBS

Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Auburn Sports Network

Spread: Alabama by -13

KEYS TO VICTORY: ALABAMA

> Road Consistency

This season, Alabama has played consistently better away from Bryant-Denny Stadium and inside it. Jake Coker’s passing completion is over 10 points higher, the defense has made quarterbacks throw more interceptions and the defense is able to press the quarterback. Alabama will need to play that to their advantage when playing against the boos and jeers they will hear inside the stadium. While they score more at Bryant-Denny, if their defense plays as they have all season, they won’t need to win by much.

> Make Auburn One Dimensional

Alabama’s front seven of the defense is only allowing on average 77.8 rushing yards a game for teams. This puts Auburn in a predicament. Both Sean White and former Heisman front runner Jeremy Johnson have a combined nine touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. They also rank third in rushing yards in the SEC but 12th in passing yards. Alabama should make this pretty simple, make White or Johnson pass and eliminate the running game.


KEYS TO VICTORY: AUBURN


> Consistent Quarterback Play

Coach Saban told the media on Monday they need to prepare for either quarterback to come out and play against them Saturday. However the issue should be which quarterback has the better shot of beating Alabama. While White has over 1000 yards passing on the season, he has only thrown one career touchdown. Johnson however has 1-2 interception to touchdown ratio and is a liability in major games. Whoever comes out to start for Auburn must have consistency if they expect to beat the Crimson Tide.

> Throw out the Schedule

Auburn will be playing in a bowl game, that is a fact after the win over Idaho. While many predicted them to represent the SEC in the College Football Playoff, they can instead ruin the chances of their rivals making it. Auburn needs to forget about their losses and focus on winning and having the bragging rights come back to Jordan-Hare Stadium. If they can focus and play constantly against the Alabama defense, there is a legitimate chance for an upset.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: ALABAMA

> Reuben Foster

A former Auburn recruit and hometown hero, Reuben Foster will return home to where he once played against the team he once cheered for. Foster is third on the time with tackles (52) and has played exceptional in the passing game with three deflections. Going to Alabama, but being from Auburn, many of the Crimson Tide players have been getting under his skin and building up anger inside the mike backer. Time to see the anger erupt on the field and he gets another shot to play in front of his home crowd.

> Cyrus Jones

Monday morning Cyrus Jones made a comment about the Auburn wide receivers.

"I don't think they're nothing special, honestly,” Jones said.

Now he will have to back up that statement on the field Saturday. While the Tigers leading receiver Ricardo Louis hasn’t truly picked up the pace where former Auburn play Duke Williams had, Louis still has over 600 receiving yards with three touchdowns. Jones, who has received criticism this entire season, recently has been making huge contributions to the Alabama defense and special teams unit. It will be interesting to see how he matches up against Louis after the comments he made.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: AUBURN

> Ricardo Louis

His name was bound to come up after being singled out by Alabama’s top corner. Louis, who took over as the number-one receiver, Duke Williams, was dismissed from the team earlier this season. Louis’ numbers aren’t flashy, but he can beat a corner to the outside as many remember seeing last season his incredible catch down the sideline in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Since he has been called out, it will be interesting to see if he meets the challenge or cracks under the pressure.

> Carl Lawson

While Ryan Kelly seems to be a level headed guy, he did make a comment earlier in the week that might have one Auburn player upset. When asked about going up against the top defensive end for the Tigers, Kelly just said, "I honestly have no idea who he is." Lawson, who had missed six games this year due to an injury, will be given the task of breaking through the line and getting to Jake Coker and Derrick Henry. If he can eliminate the rushing attack of Derrick Henry, Ryan Kelly and all of Alabama will sure know who Lawson is now.


THE X-FACTOR: ALABAMA

> Derrick’s Defining Day

While he may have only seen the field for four drive last Saturday, that is all it took for Derrick Henry to tie Trent Richardson’s 2011 21 rushing touchdown record. On Saturday, he will have a chance to beat the record and stand alone in the Crimson Tide record books. Henry also is three touchdowns away from tying former Auburn running back Tre Mason and former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow’s all time SEC rushing record at 23.

Henry averaging 6.1 yards this season, a carry while Auburn’s defense allows 180 rushing yards per game. If Henry can continueas success against the Tigers, this should be easier than expected for the Tide. If Auburn can stop Henry, he might be losing more than just a record.


THE X-FACTOR: AUBURN

> Proper Play Calling

Auburn has seen it all this season. From almost an early upset to Louisville to an overtime win against Jacksonville State all the way to a quadruple overtime to Arkansas, Auburn has struggled out of the gate. One of the main reasons for the under-whelming success is play calling. Auburn has allowed 27 points a game while scoring an average of 28. This is not the Gus Malzhan offense fans have grown accustomed too. If Auburn can make the right calls on both sides of the ball for major plays, they should be able to contain Alabama and make this a great competition.

PREDICTION

While many believe this will be a cake walk for Alabama, let’s not go that far just yet. Alabama has played inside Jordan-Hare Stadium 12 times and has a record of 4-8 away from Bryant-Denny Stadium.

More surprising, at Auburn, Alabama averages on 23 points a game when they average 33 in Tuscaloosa. Never the less, this has been a down year for the Tigers.

Auburn will be able to contain Alabama early and make the Crimson Tide one-dimensional. The problem is, it is the same result with Auburn against Alabama’s defense.

The defensive line should be able to peruse Sean White...Jeremy John…whoever to make errors and force turnovers or several three and outs. By the third quarter, Alabama should be able to pick up the tempo and run away with this one. Just like the tale of the Iron Bowl itself, Derrick Henry was forged in iron, it is hard to bend something…or some like that.

Final Score: Alabama 38, Auburn 17

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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