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Open Thread: 2007 Iron Bowl Edition

Alabama Crimson Tide Auburn Tigers
6-5, 4-3 SEC 7-4, 4-3 SEC

Game 12: Alabama at #25 Auburn

Alabama Crimson Tide (6-5) vs. Auburn Tigers (7-4)

Saturday, November 24, 2007 – 7:00 p.m. Central Time

Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)

Television: ESPN

Announcers: Mike Patrick (play-by-play); Todd Blackledge (color commentary); Holly Rowe (sidelines)

Radio: The Auburn Network (Throughout the Southeast)

While today’s Iron Bowl holds little significance beyond the borders of Alabama, it is one of the more intriguing games in recent years.

It’s hard to get a pulse on the teams. Even Las Vegas is struggling with the contest. The line on today’s game has dropped two points in the last two days. On Wednesday, Auburn was a solid six point favorite. This morning the line is hovering around four points.

Both teams are more than capable of winning tonight’s game. Both teams are capable of blowing the other out. It’s been that kind of year.

Conventional wisdom says that Auburn will win. There’s little question the Tigers have the better team on paper. But then again, LSU had a better team on paper than Arkansas yesterday.

The key to success for Auburn will be the play of quarterback Brandon Cox. When he’s on there are few teams capable of beating the Tigers.

Another key will be special teams. The loss of Alabama returner Javier Arenas is a huge break for Auburn. Arenas has game changing speed. Nursing a high ankle sprain, he likely won’t play.

Auburn must continue to improve on kickoff coverage. It has already cost them games with South Florida and LSU.

Freshman kicker Wes Byrum may well figure prominently in the outcome. That’s a heavy load to place on a freshman, but we’ve seen him do it already in Gainesville.

It’s surprisingly eerie how similar this Alabama team is to Auburn. Both teams play with a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Alabama has played as well as any team in the country in its win over Tennessee and close loss to LSU.

Last week’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe was perhaps the worst defeat in school history. Nick Saban’s comments this week comparing the loss to September 11 may actually do some good for the Tide.

The comments certainly took the attention off the team and placed it firmly on Saban. Rather than having to answer questions all week about the loss, everything centered on Saban and his ignorant comments.

In the end, the better team usually wins. Auburn should have a chip on its shoulder and be out to prove something. Look for a close game that will likely come down to a late score to determine the winner.

We’ll have the open thread up all day. I’m heading to my tailgate spot in just a few minutes. I’ll check in after the game.

If you’re watching on television please drop in and share your comments. I know everyone will want to hear them.

War Eagle and Beat Bama!