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Staff Picks - #15 Auburn vs #5 Alabama

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See if some of us are superstitious enough to go with the reverse jinx...

Well, tomorrow is the Iron Bowl. It’s the big one, and this year things may be in doubt more than they’ve been in any year in quite some time. Alabama’s a slim favorite, but without their starting quarterback and a shaky, injured defense, Auburn’s offensive woes may not matter as much as they have in other games this season.

When it comes to this game, many of us get a little stitious and may not want to show our true feelings. Do we all think Auburn is going to win this game? Maybe. Will us saying that Auburn is going to win affect this game’s outcome? IT COULD, YOU DON’T KNOW. That said, here are our opinions.

AUBURN vs ALABAMA (-4) (O/U 49.5)

Marlon Davidson has gained a One Honor lead over Derrick Brown in the Race for the Most SEC Player of the Week Honors (TM). It sounds like they are very serious about this internal competition. In other words, I would not want to be the backup quarterback these gentleman are both trying to tackle on every snap.

Folks, Auburn can beat this team. This isn’t the offense that put 40 on LSU. This isn’t the defense Saban typically has. But Bo has to rise above his standard level Saturday. He has to be a super star. His arm needs to quickly (and accurately) get the ball to his receivers. Here I am, placing my trust in this team once again.

Auburn 24, alabama 22

-Josh Dub

I wish I believed but I have nothing that shows me the offense will score more than 16 points on a defense with half a pulse. Our defense will keep us in it but that will make it hurt that much more.

uat scores a late garbage TD because I hate football and its basketball season and soon to be baseball season.

uat 24-16

-Drew Mac

My oh my how the result of this game will change perceptions. A win puts us at 9-3 with a win over Alabama, which would for sure knock them out of the Playoffs. A loss puts us at 8-4 with losses to the four best teams on the schedule, and 4-4 in conference. Gus won’t be gone either way short of a 49-0 bloodletting, but still, how this game plays out will write the script for this offseason’s debates.

If Auburn is going to succeed in this game, it’s going to come down to if we can run the ball. Alabama’s rush defense is 41st in explosiveness rate and 48th in success rate, while Auburn’s ground game is 42nd in explosiveness rate and 34th in success rate. That’s also with a limited/out Boobee Whitlow for half the season, who looked back to form against Samford last week. I think if Auburn can establish the ground game early, Bo has shown he’s confident enough in JHS to get some things done in the passing game.

On the other side of the ball, I’m fully confident in our defense. Alabama’s game this year has been to pound the ball for 3-5 yards a pop consistently, then take the top off the defense with elite QB and WR play down the field. But without Tua, we’ll see how the passing game responds. Najee Harris and the ground game haven’t been great at busting big plays, even if he’s been one of the best in the country at getting consistent yardage. That actually mirrors Auburn’s rush defense, who specialize in stuffing you at the line but may let you bust a few big gains each game. My money’s on Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson, but there’s going to be a ton of NFL talent on both sides of the ball in this matchup.

Just like the UGA game, this one’s a toss up. I think Auburn pulls it off with a familiar 28-24 score.

-Ryan Sterritt

It’s cliche to say this, but it remains true…this game being played in Auburn matters more for who we are than the outcome. That’s not to say it isn’t wildly important to win this game, but for those that were there and understand the significance of what happened 30 years ago on December 2, 1989, you understand that who we are today is not possible without us dictating where we play this game.

In essence that is what Alabama is to us. It’s the measuring stick every 365 days of whether or not Auburn is living up to who we say we are and who we aspire to be. Are we the program that is unafraid of going up against the best in America, competing our hearts out, and coming away with our share? Or are we a program that cowers back into exactly what someone else wants to dictate we are. It’s all one big identity crisis that we play out each and every day here in this state, but you already knew that. So let’s get down to it…

These bastards can be beaten. The field doesn’t tilt in their direction the way it used to, primarily due to not being as talented as they are accustomed to being, but also because they’ve got maybe the weakest coaching staff they’ve had in over a decade. They’re a shell of their former self defensively; not really being sure of what their identity is. They’ve had their best offensive weapon taken out due to injury, and now must throw back there a kid who has never seen anything like what he’s about to walk into trying to throw to 4 NFL-caliber wideouts and handoff to another great running back.

I have a ton of respect for that football team in Tuscaloosa and for Nick Saban. What they’ve done is unprecedented and will never be seen again in our lifetimes. I love my good friend Bo Hicks and Druid City Brewing Company. I get along well with our Roll Bama Roll brethren here on this network of sites. The issue I have is not even the arrogance and complete identity being wrapped up in winning, but the idea that we aren’t allowed to be who we are in the same space without them feeling threatened by us, or them actively trying to cause us harm or damage.

Those fans outside of SEC Nation the weekend of the Alabama/LSU game cheering Harvey Updyke when he called into Finebaum’s show represent the worst of what is a large portion of the Alabama fanbase the simply wants us to never have any joy. Those people can go to hell. Those people don’t deserve the success they have. And those people are the reason why winning this game is always so sweet.

But those people aren’t why Saturday matters. Saturday matters because it’s a day for us to get back on the same page as a group of people. If we’re honest we’re all divided as to how we feel about the “state of Auburn” and the direction of our football program. Some reasons are totally valid. Some are so batshit insane that it makes me question how the folks throwing out their grievances are able to normal, everyday life. But we should all be able to agree that the negativity, the students leaving early against Ole Miss, the backlash to the students leaving early against Ole Miss, the wanting to spend an immoral amount of money for the unknown, the anger at a 19 year old quarterback who was in high school 6 months ago, and the general toxin we all are carrying is unhealthy. For us, and for Auburn. Saturday matters because it’s a chance to get right. Come before the altar and release all of your burdens and get behind this football team. Get behind these coaches. And get back to who we are, which is a fiercely loyal group of people who are completely, totally, and undeniably unified by the desire to beat Alabama’s ass.

Keys to victory:

Throw downfield to Schwartz (beyond 25 yards) 4+ times. Make the Alabama defense respect the pass.

Let DJ Williams touch the ball 15-20 times. This is not a game where Boobee is going to win it for you. We need the best running back on the team to carry the load.

Run pace. Let Bo Nix flourish in the system he’s most comfortable with. It’s also the system the head coach is most comfortable calling.

Play straight up defensively. No 3-1-7 look will beat their receivers. Line your men up and make Mac Jones beat you through the air.

Do NOT kick FGs outside 40 yards.

Knock Mac Jones’ ass into the dirt. Hit him. Make him associate the breath of Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson with pain.

To hell with Alabama. Let’s beat their ass. Auburn 23 Alabama 21

-Josh Black

Who says the Iron Bowl doesn’t matter? Both of these teams can be 0-11 and guess what folks, THE IRON BOWL MATTERS! EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

Here’s the reality folks: Auburn very well could be America’s team this Saturday. Why? Because I truly believe that if Alabama wins this game, they’re gonna back their way into the playoffs..... again.

We all know the powers that be are gonna do everything in their power to make sure that happens. So how do you stop them? You protect your house unlike 2 weeks ago and shut em all up.

Auburn won’t be feeling sorry for Alabama starting Mac Jones instead of Tua at QB but Mac has done well so far since taking over full-time after Tua’s injury. It’s the last time we’ll see Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and others play in Jordan-Hare Stadium. They can’t lose to both Georgia and Bama at home this year. It simply can’t happen. I’ve felt pretty good all week about this game and I truly hope my good feeling holds true on gameday and throughout the game. War Damn Eagle ya’ll!

Auburn 24 Alabama 17

-Will McLaughlin

I don’t have much in the way of preview for this game. It’s pretty simple. If Auburn can run the football and Nix converts on the available big play opportunities then the Tigers win and possibly comfortably. If they don’t, it will unfold as it did in Baton Rouge, Gainesville and two weeks ago in Jordan-Hare. Give us a Happy Thanksgiving Gus

Auburn 31 Alabama 23

-AU Nerd

I have alternating really good and really bad feelings about this. So it’s honestly a normal Iron Bowl. I hate this game so much. I hate losing to these assholes so damn much. There’s no way I can stomach picking them. As far as game analysis, Auburn has to have explosive plays on offense. Auburn’s best chance to win this game is to have at least 1 touchdown from more than 30 yards out. I feel comfortable with the defense getting enough stops to keep us in the game. It’s just a matter of making the plays on the other side.

Auburn 24, Alabama 19

-James Jones

I’m honestly not seeing what Vegas is seeing. Sure Auburn has blown it against some teams this year, but I’m not sure any of those teams are worse than Bama without Tua. Feels like the degenerates are just seeing that mullet A and going with it.

Anyway, I think the best defense in the country does their job, and Auburn manages to score just a little bit more than they need to. I expect us to see Gus throw everything at them, like we’ve seen before, and give this worse than their average Bama defense all sorts of trouble. We are at home. We will be loud. These defenders that came back to win something only have one left thing to win: this game. War Damn Eagle.

Auburn 30, Alabama 17

-AU Chief

A long time ago I worked as a student assistant in the auburn athletics department of media relations. My job was a lot of data entry and also wrangling players for interviews. It remains one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had, to be honest. At least once a week Athletics Director Emeritus David Housel would poke his head in the office where all the student workers were, and ask one question, “What are y’all doing today to help beat Alabama?”We all play a part. If you’re in the stadium, be loud. Play your part.If you’re on the couch at home, be loud and be quasi positive on Twitter please, recruits read that. Play your part.If you’re on the field, hit them in the mouth and don’t stop until the clock hits triple 0. Play your part.Auburn is going to do enough to beat this Alabama team. And no one will be able to take anything away from it. Tigers 35, Tide 25.

-Son of Crow

I haven’t lived in the state of Alabama for nine football seasons. I left on the heels of a winged Heisman winner named Cam Newton, and my last memory of experiencing football in Alabama was of winning a national championship. Some of us on this site have stronger negative feelings toward Georgia, but to me, the Iron Bowl never had that brotherly quality.

The first football game I ever really remember watching and understanding was the 1995 Iron Bowl (YES, YES, YES AUBURN, YES!). It was only the third Iron Bowl played at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and when the two teams came onto the field, Auburn ran out of the tunnel while Alabama walked. My dad told me that the team that runs onto the field wins the game, and my small mind took that as gospel. It’s not true, but it was that day.

Since then, I’ve watched Auburn football run the gamut from complete joy and jubilation to total failure. The final game of the season has run that string of emotion as well. 2002 — the unexpected dominance; 2003 — a cathartic experience in the face of disappointment; 2004 — the capper on a perfect season, 11-0 eleven years after 11-0; 2005 — a complete joke and the least pressure I’ve ever had watching an Iron Bowl; 2006 — the feeling that we may never lose the game again; 2007 — not even their god-king can take down Jordan-Hare at night; 2010 — throwing it back in their faces; 2013 — setting Alabama on the wrong side of college football history forever; 2017 — just beating their asses. Those are just the wins.

It’s been equally wild on the other side. Blowouts in 2001, 2008, 2012, 2012... close and tough loss in 2009, the frustrating ones where you play hard and just get out-gunned in 2014, 2015, 2016... but you get the sense that these wins mean less and less to the Tide. Their students are increasingly from areas outside of the state. The focus comes more and more into the national picture, and anything less than a title is a down year. You have to wonder if the same mindset leaks into the team as well. A bunch of these guys have no scope when it comes to thinking about the Iron Bowl as the heated rivalry it’s always been. With their shot at a national championship hinging on this game, but still out of their control, will we see a team that doesn’t quite have the gas in the tank?

For Auburn, we saw what Jordan-Hare Stadium can become. Against Georgia, it was back to the November levels we experienced two years ago. Tomorrow, it’ll be the same if the game is close. Our defense will feed off of that and will have an impact when it comes to affecting Mac Jones and his ability to move the ball. Now, I don’t think the drop off from Tua to Jones is as big as everyone thinks. Tua wasn’t the key to that offense, it was the ability of the receivers to get open and make big plays out of slants and screens. Jones can still have success if he can just get the ball to the weapons on the outside. However, he’ll have to deal with the defensive front of Auburn while trying to make that happen.

Auburn hasn’t allowed more than 24 points all season long. LSU scored 23 at home against us. They scored 46 in Tuscaloosa. It’s not a stretch to say that our defense can clamp down and keep the Tide in a rhythmic rut. I’m not worried about that side of the ball. They’ll do their part.

Offensively, Auburn has to get the best game of the year from Bo Nix. We have to be able to find our receivers in good one-on-one matchups, and we have to try to hit this defense up the middle on the ground. They don’t have the beef in the middle, nor the experience. They’re still fast, and we likely won’t be able to beat them to the edges as much as we’d like. We need the ground game, and the slants, and the running ability of Bo Nix. I think we get just enough.

It won’t be a field goal return, or a fourth down conversion that wins this one. It’ll be the defense standing tall and holding Alabama when we need them most. Backed up into the students, we’ll get the clinching turnover and Bo Nix will have the distinct honor of kneeling down as the clock ticks to zeroes, scoreboard reading Auburn 27, Alabama 24.

-Jack Condon