The 2014 edition of the Iron Bowl will have huge implications for the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1, 6-1 SEC) while the Auburn Tigers (7-3, 4-3 SEC) will try to play spoiler against their hated rival. These two ancient foes will square off at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, November 29 (7:45 p.m. Eastern).
After a win over the top team in the nation, previously undefeated Mississippi State, Alabama figures to move into the all-important top four of the CFP rankings. This weekend, the Tide get a break from the SEC West gauntlet as they face Western Carolina (7-4, 5-2 Southern), but then it’s back to the grind for the final game of the regular season against Gus Malzahn’s Tigers.
For Auburn, the playoffs are a thing of the past. After holding a top-four spot in the first two iterations of the CFP rankings, the Tigers suffered a terrible home-loss to Texas A&M (who were without star QB Kenny Hill), and then were blown out on the road by No. 15 Georgia. Add in a road-loss to Mississippi State earlier in the year, and you have a recipe for a mid-range bowl game, at best. But the Tigers will still be motivated to spoil the party for the Tide and salvage what is left of their season.
Playing spoiler against Alabama is never an easy feat, though, especially in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide defense has been outstanding all year, allowing just 14.5 points per game, second-best in the country; at home, that number drops to 12.6. The Tigers, meanwhile, have respectable offensive numbers, on the whole, averaging over 35 points per game (27th in the nation); but they have struggled to put up points on the road, averaging only 21.5 points over their four away games. Perhaps more concerning for Auburn, though, is that its defense has given up over 30 points in four straight, including 41 to the Hill-less Aggies. Last weekend, Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley tore them up on the ground to the tune of 289 rushing yards.
Two Saturday’s from now, you can expect more of the same. The Tide will be suffocating at home on defense and stuff the ball down the throat of a suspect Auburn defensive line. Auburn will play the Tide tough, as it always does, but the Tigers don’t have the personnel to matchup with the Tide this year. Look for the Tide to come out with a win, avenging last year’s wild finish that sent the Tigers to the national championship game.
Auburn won in Tuscaloosa in 2010 but has been shut down in two of the last three visits.
(Photo credit: Auburn Alumni Association from Auburn, USA (Aubie Uploaded by merbenz) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)