No. 1-ranked Alabama hosts Auburn on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Here are four key questions the Crimson Tide faces in this rivalry matchup:
1. Will Tua Tagovailoa have an Iron Bowl moment?
Alabama’s sophomore quarterback from Hawaii had a career-defining moment in the national championship game last season and is considered to be the Heisman Trophy front-runner going into this stretch run. A big game against Auburn with the nation watching would further cement his legacy and make his case for the game’s highest individual honor.
2. What about the running game?
The Crimson Tide has been, at best, inconsistent with its ground game. The line doesn’t seem to be built to trample defensive fronts. There have been bright spots, but rarely has UA been able to assert its physicality in the trenches. Auburn has a middle-of-the-pack run defense in the SEC and Alabama should try to exploit it.
3. Can Alabama beat up Jarrett Stidham?
The Crimson Tide averages more than three sacks per game, third-best in the SEC and sixth-best in the country. Auburn relies upon its passing game but has had some major issue up front in pass protection. UA will want to get to the Tigers’ quarterback as often as it can to disrupt the Auburn offense.
4. Does Alabama stay on track to play for another national title?
During the course of Nick Saban’s dynasty run as head coach, the Crimson Tide has gone undefeated from start to finish once – in 2009 – and has had one other undefeated regular season. Some have called this the best college football team of all time, which has yet to be established, but closing out the regular season without a blemish would be a good start.