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#2 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #24 Auburn Tigers Game Preview

#2 Crimson Tide (10-1, 6-1 SEC) vs #24 Tigers (7-4, 4-3 SEC)

Not only is Alabama one of the best teams in the country (Tide fans might argue the best, as it was their own foolish miscues that put the LSU game out of reach in OT) it has an axe to grind with its hated Iron Bowl rival.

Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn AL
Saturday, Nov. 26, 3:30 pm EST
NCAA Odds from Sportsbook.com:
MoneyLine:
Spread: Alabama -21, Auburn +21
Over/Under: 47

Last season, Auburn rallied from being 24 points down at halftime, to win in Tuscaloosa. However, the superstar hero that was responsible for that change of events – QB Cam Newton – has marched off to the NFL and a job starting for the Carolina Panthers. That means we have a considerably different ballgame in 2011.

These teams are both in the SEC West division and are both ranked in the Top 25, even though the Tigers have four losses. Yes, you can throw records out the window in a rivalry game like this, and yes Auburn gets ’Bama at home, but any analysis points to Auburn accumulating a fifth loss this week.

Why? Alabama’s defense ranks among not just the best this season, but the best in college football history. If I listed every talent on the Tide defense worthy of all-conference mention or a future in the NFL, I’d go over my word count. Alabama RB Trent Richardson is not just the best at his position in the SEC and the best on his offense, he’s a Heisman Trophy candidate. Alabama’s offensive line is big, and experienced, and aggressive. Finally, all these special talents are led by head coach Nick Saban, who demands perfection and usually gets it.

Auburn is a decent team in its own right this season, but it is a far cry from last year’s National Title-winning side. The main difference, obviously, is the absence of Newton. New starter Clint Moseley simply isn’t in the same stratosphere. Auburn has been wishy-washy this season between Moseley and Barrett Trotter, though neither have produced groundbreaking results. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

The Tigers have a great run game under the purview of Michael Dyer (who is closing in on a very respectable 1,200-yard season) and speedster Onterio McCalebb, though even a unit that good may well have tough sledding against the Crimson Tide “D”. If Auburn’s aerial attack is to have any success, Trotter and/or Moseley must be flawless against a near-perfect Alabama secondary.

Alabama won’t be able to hear anything in this super-hostile environment this weekend, but you can bet the urge for revenge is planted deep in the psyche of every ’Bama player that was on the field in the Iron Bowl last season. In uncharacteristic fashion, the Tide let that one slip away; you can bet they’ll do anything under the sun to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

Richardson and the five road-graders in front of him will likely smash through an average Auburn defensive unit, and why change anything that works? The Alabama run game should be successful enough (even when Richardson isn’t on the field, back-up Eddie Lacy can really make hay also) that QB A.J. McCarron shouldn’t even be tested much. Auburn will probably try to use a similar formula, but it will probably be bashing its head against a wall – in the form of the Tide’s overwhelming defense.

Sure, despite all the clichés about throwing the records out the window, it’s hard to dispute these 2011 track records. All those outstanding Alabama defensive athletes will be licking their chops trying to redeem themselves; it is more than likely that the visiting team will prove that not only was last season’s Iron Bowl an anomaly, but also that they have a rightful place in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.

Score Prediction: Alabama 38, Auburn 13
Over/Under Prediction: 51

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