(15) Auburn Tigers at (1) Alabama Crimson Tide
Auburn: They have been one of the most improved teams in the nation this year and I saw that from the get-go when they opened their season up against Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers in September and they gave Clemson a nice challenge. Their offense was handling its business until the injury bug found its way to the team. Quarterback Shaun White was injured, but he’s all good to go and running back Kam Pettway but he should be good to go. Auburn’s defense has been solid all around this year. They have been ranked in the top eight all season long in points allowed. This looked to be a game where so much would be on the line but Auburn was upset by Georgia a few weeks ago and now, they are simply playing for pride. They’ll make their every other year trip to Tuscaloosa on Saturday afternoon.
Alabama: They’ve clinched the SEC West once again (shocker) but we all know that this isn’t their ultimate goal. It’s national championship or bust for them. You can win all the games you want and play in your conference title game, but you don’t play for those. You play for the chance to hoist that trophy on a Monday night in January. These guys know what’s at stake and they know that next step to take. Jalen Hurts has really been the orchestrator of this offense alongside Lane Kiffin. He’s put together one of the best seasons I’ve ever seen by a freshman. He’s thrown 19 touchdown passes and rushed for 11. Their offense is able to run the ball at will and they have three weapons in the receiving core in Ridley, Howard, and Stewart who can make all the difference. We know about their defense and they’ve been big-time all season this year and they’ll need to be big once again with Auburn coming to town.
Auburn Player To Watch: Carl Lawson– When you face a quarterback that’s capable of taking a game over with his feet and his arm, the defensive ends are counted on to make some big time plays to help contain him and keep him in the pocket. It’ll be key for Auburn to let Hurts beat them through the air. Be content with that. Don’t let him scramble and make things happen with his legs. Lawson will have his work cut out for him in this one.
Alabama Player To Watch: Jalen Hurts– He’s been able to play in some big time games this year, but there’s something different about the Iron Bowl. He needs to come into this one with the same mindset as every other game and take it one play at a time.
Prediction: It’s been a one-sided affair in this rivalry for a few seasons now. Auburn has to establish their running game to be successful or it could be a very long day for them. I like Alabama at home. Bama 35 Auburn 17