Rivalry Week: Iron Bowl Odds: Alabama at Auburn
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It isn’t as old as some of the rivalry games going on this weekend, but the 84th edition of the Iron Bowl will feature two of the best teams in college football, No. 5 Alabama and No. 15 Auburn. Alabama, since it is not playing in the SEC title game next weekend, must win in order to keep its fledgling playoff hopes alive.
With three losses, there is no way Auburn makes it into the college football playoffs. But, next to winning the national championship, there is one thing that can make the season a complete success for the Tigers—knocking Alabama out of the playoffs.
A win by Auburn would certainly do just that to Alabama. But with No. 4 Georgia facing off with No. 2 LSU in the SEC title game next week, a win by Alabama could go a long way to securing the No. 4 slot for them.
Alabama is favored by 3.5 points. With such a small spread, the oddsmakers giving Auburn odds (+140) that would indicate they think the Tigers have a shot at recording the upset. But they are still giving Alabama odds (-175) it deserves as one of the most dominant teams in college football.
But can Alabama be that team with Mac Jones at quarterback? If Auburn can shut down Jones, will Alabama’s defense then be able to win the day?
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Alabama has dominated the rivalry in recent years with wins in four of the last five and eight of the last eleven. There have been some high scoring games, but typically, a game between these two features a whole lot of defense and not a lot of points.
The over/under for the game is set at 50.0 points. Auburn’s offense is bound to have some struggles against Alabama’s defense. With Tua Tagovailoa out and an inexperienced quarterback in Mac Jones in, it is not hard to imagine the Alabama offense struggling a little as well.
Yes, he looked great as did the offense against Arkansas and Western Carolina. Auburn’s 14th ranked defense is going to be a lot tougher, though.
But Tua Tagovailoa is not the sole reason Alabama has the No. 2 scoring team (48.5 points per game) in the country. The offensive line has done an excellent job this season (No. 7 in the country in sacks allowed). Najee Harris is a good running back, and Jones will have three of the best wide receivers in the country to work within DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs III.
Jones will not have to win the game for Alabama. They just need him not to lose it.
But the real question may not have anything to do with Jones scoring points on the Tigers defense. Will Auburn be able to score against Alabama’s defense?
Bo Nix is not a bad quarterback. He has been excellent in stretches this season for the Tigers, but he is a freshman that is prone to making freshman mistakes at times. But Auburn does not put much emphasis on the passing game (Nix failed to pass for 200+ yards in seven games this season).
Luckily, they are a pretty good running team (No. 26 in the country; 213.7 yards per game). However, Alabama is not too shabby at stopping the run (No. 33; 131.0 yards per game allowed). If the Crimson Tide stop Auburn from running the ball, can Auburn win through the air?
That could be asking too much. But Nix did come alive and got the job done against Oregon earlier in the year. However, overall, his track record throwing the ball does not inspire confidence. Then again, guys have been known to pull great performances out of their hats in games just like this one.
Will that be the case Saturday afternoon in the Iron Bowl? Can the underdog Tigers beat the favored Crimson Tide?
- Alabama is 5-5 ATS this season
- Alabama is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games when their opponent averages less than 35 points per game
- Auburn is 4-2 ATS at home this season
- Auburn is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games when their opponent is averaging less than 210 rush yards per game
- The Under is 6-1 in the last 7 Auburn games when their opponent has a win streak of more than 2 games