By Tommy Deas
Alabama averages a few points and a few yards more per game, but Auburn has offensive balance and seems to be clicking under Jarrett Stidham. UA has a strong ground game and weapons at receiver, but dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts is an X-factor.
Auburn gives up nearly 60 yards and a touchdown per game more than Alabama, which leads the SEC in scoring and total defense. The Crimson Tide is strong in the secondary behind Levi Wallace, but will need to be stout up front against the Tigers’ running game.
The Tigers post one of the nation’s top kickers in Daniel Carlson and have explosive punt and kickoff returners. Alabama has the edge in punting behind the leg strength of JK Scott. UA needs to make sure it secures punts and could use a breakaway return.
Give credit to Gus Malzahn, who is one of the few head coaches still around who has beaten Alabama’s Nick Saban head to head. But while Auburn has fluctuated season to season, the Crimson Tide has been a consistent national title contender under Saban’s direction.
A month ago, Auburn looked to be teetering on the brink of collapse, but the Tigers have gotten themselves back into position to make a run at an SEC title and a playoff berth. Alabama has everything to lose, while Auburn is at home and can let it all hang out.
Alabama 24, Auburn 20
This game features two stingy defenses going against offenses that have been effective but not overwhelming. The edge will go to the team that is best able to get a running game going. That points to Alabama winning a close one that will be long remembered.
Alabama 31, Auburn 28
Alabama outlasts Auburn in a dramatic Iron Bowl showdown. The Tigers jump out to an early lead in front of their home crowd, but the Crimson Tide come out on top, taking control in the second half.
Alabama 35, Auburn 31
If Dylan Moses plays the way he did against Mercer, Alabama’s chances of winning this game dramatically improve. Moses still won’t be enough stop the Tigers from putting up over four touchdowns. It will be Calvin Ridley and the Crimson Tide offense that wins a shootout against Auburn.
Alabama 25, Auburn 17
Not a trendy pick. Not a hip pick. The trend seems to be to choose Auburn. I get it. AU is playing well. Strange things happen at Jordan-Hare. But maybe those strange things will happen the other way this time.
Alabama 28, Auburn 20
The saving grace for Alabama will be turnovers. Jalen Hurts and the running backs have combined for one this entire season. The Alabama defense will force Jarrett Stidham and his crew into a couple.
Alabama 30, Auburn 27
The national media will be jumping on the War Eagle express using trends like Nick Saban has never beaten a nine-win Auburn team. It will come down to which quarterback, Jalen Hurts or Jarrett Stidham, can make the most plays against two strong defenses.
Auburn 24, Alabama 17
Alabama’s defense is not at full strength and they are going up against a great running back in Kerryon Johnson. Auburn will stack the box and stop Alabama’s run game, which puts it on Jalen Hurts’ shoulders in a loud, hostile environment.
Alabama 24, Auburn 23
Alabama has Jalen Hurts, Auburn doesn’t. That’s the difference in my mind. JK Scott will play a key factor also. Field position and turnovers will also have a say in the outcome.
Alabama 27, Auburn 17
I said during preseason that the Crimson Tide will cruise through the regular season undefeated. That hasn’t changed. Unlike the Mississippi State game, Alabama is ready for this challenge and won’t be caught off guard. There’s too much at stake.
Alabama 42, Auburn 7
Alabama’s fresh faces such as Josh Jacobs on offense will create a lot of scoring opportunities for Alabama.