When it comes to rivalry games, it does not get much better than the Iron Bowl, the annual matchup between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers. Alabama has won seven of the last 10 games between the two teams. ‘Bama is a heavy favorite on oddsboards to win a second in a row this week in the 86th meeting between these two SEC powerhouses. BetMGM is among several books with Alabama -19.5.
But when it comes to rivalry games, underdogs have been known to find a way to win. However, due to some recent injuries, it may require a Herculean effort for the Tigers to win against the spread let alone outright.
NCAAF · Sat (11/27) @ 3:35pm ET
|ALA Alabama||at||AUBU Auburn|
|Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn , AL|
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Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1 SU, 6-5 ATS)
An offense that ranks second in the conference in total yards, first in passing efficiency, and first in points cannot have too many flaws, but Alabama does have one—the offensive line. Normally a strength for the Crimson Tide, this year it has struggled with pass protection and keeping defenses out of the backfield.
Heading into the Iron Bowl, it ranks last in the SEC in sacks allowed and second to last in tackles for a loss allowed. Last week, Arkansas had four sacks and eight tackles for a loss.
But the offense is not what has some thinking Alabama has looked beatable this season—it’s the defense. There is nothing seriously wrong with the Tide defense, of course. The run game is certainly not an issue; Arkansas was just the third team this season to rush for 100+ yards. However, the defense has been vulnerable against the pass.
For the season, it ranks seventh in the conference with an average of 220.5 yards per game allowed. But KJ Jefferson chopped the secondary up for 326 yards and three touchdowns last weekend. Zach Calzada’s success in the passing game led the Aggies to an upset win against the Tide. Tennessee’s pass game got them out to an early lead.
The pass defense would be more of a worry if Bo Nix was still starting. But Auburn’s three-year starter is out for the season after breaking his ankle against Mississippi State.
Auburn Tigers (6-5 SU, 5-6 ATS)
The outlook for the Tigers would have dimmed following the season-ending injuries to their kicker (Anders Carlson) and second most-productive wide receiver (Kobe Hudson)—but Auburn might have survived without them. But the loss of Bo Nix?
Unless there is a superstar recruit waiting in the wings, replacing Nix’s production this late in the season is unlikely; there is certainly no way they can replace his value as a leader.
T.J. Finley got the nod last weekend against South Carolina. The LSU transfer got his first of five starts last season for the LSU Tigers against South Carolina and led them to a win. But things did not go as well in his first start for Auburn last weekend. Finley did not throw an interception but only completed 17 of 32 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown in the 21-17 loss to the Gamecocks.
Another week of practice with the first-team unit should help improve his familiarity with the offense and Auburn’s receivers; he will certainly be better prepared. But he is making his second start for the team against one of the best teams in the nation. If he had a game against an FCS team or a struggling FBS one, maybe he could work out some of the kinks. But against one of the best teams in the nation?
Finley started for LSU against Alabama last year, so he has an idea of what the Crimson Tide defense will throw at him. But working out the kinks is not something you do against Alabama. However, Tank Bigsby should take some of the pressure off. Bigsby is coming off a 164-yard day against South Carolina and he averaged 7.5 yards a carry.
But the Gamecocks run defense is the second-worst in the conference. Running against them does not compare to running against Alabama.
Auburn’s defense has given up 409, 487, and 379 yards in the last three games—all losses. There is no reason to think Alabama will not produce similar or better numbers (probably better). T.J. Finley will be better prepared this week, but he will need to be more than just prepared to have a chance at an epic upset over the heavily favored Crimson Tide.
He’ll need to be lucky.
Also read: Ohio State Vs. Michigan Odds & Pick: Don’t Buy Wolverines Hype | Ole Miss At Mississippi State Odds And Pick: Egg Bowl ‘Over’ Easy?