(14) Auburn at (1) Alabama (-8.5, 53.5 o/u)
One of the biggest rivalries in college football takes center stage this Saturday when the Alabama Crimson Tide host the Auburn Tigers in the 2014 edition of the Iron Bowl (7:45 p.m. Eastern).
For the second week in a row, the 9-1 Crimson Tide are on top of the College Football Playoff rankings. After a loss to Ole Miss in early October, Bama has done what it needed to get back into playoff contention, winning six straight and holding opponents to just over 14 points on the season (second best in the FBS). In their most pivotal game so far, the Tide held high-flying Dak Prescott and the Mississippi State Bulldogs to just 20 points (26-20), though they failed to cover as 8.5-point favorites.
But all that hard work will come crashing down if they lose a second straight Iron Bowl.
While the Tide know the playoff implications of the game, they are also trying to enjoy the moment.
“It’s the biggest college rivalry in history, so of course you’re going to want to have fun and do the things you’ve got to do to prepare for it,” Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland said.
Auburn is 8-3 on the year, and just 4-3 in SEC action. The Tigers have struggled to keep points of the board all season. They gave up at least 30 in four straight games before routing Samford (31-7) in their last game. On Saturday, their biggest challenge will be containing WR Amari Cooper, RB T.J. Yeldon, and mobile QB Blake Sims.
“The quarterback doesn’t carry it a whole lot, but when he does he’s a threat to go the whole way,” Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. “He’s big and fast. He can get the ball outside, whereas that was a play you didn’t really worry about (in the past)
Alabama is 3-6 ATS in its last nine against Auburn and 2-5 SU in its last seven at home against the Tigers. The winner of the last five Iron Bowls has gone on to play for the National Championship.
(Photo credit: Matthew Tosh (originally posted to Flickr as DSCF1606) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)