Staff Predictions for the Iron Bowl
Alabama is heading into the Iron Bowl weekend with one thing on its mind: redemption.
After falling to the Auburn Tigers in the final seconds last year, the Tide and many of their fans are looking to make a statement. Alabama has been a completely different team at home, but this is the Iron Bowl. Auburn does not have much to lose, as their hopes for a strong bowl game are out the window, but for Alabama, this is the game for all the marbles. A win sets the team up for the SEC Championship game and a favorite for the College Football Playoff.
This is how our staff sees the Iron Bowl playing out.
Chris Stewart (Host of "The Chris Stewart Show")
Neither Alabama nor Auburn looked real interested in the first quarter of their games last week. That won’t be an issue Saturday. While Bama fans want desperately to see a blowout, and Tiger fans point to their team’s recent Iron Bowl success in close games, I think this one will fall somewhere in the middle.
This one will still be in question in the 4th quarter, but the Tide will keep Auburn at bay and advance to another SEC Championship game. Alabama 34, Auburn 24
Ryan Fowler (Host of "The Game")
The 79th edition of the Iron Bowl will be played once again with National Championship implications. This game will also mark the 7th time that these two teams have faced each other at night. Keys to the Alabama victory include getting off to a fast start on the offensive side of the ball, stopping Auburn's rushing attack on defense, and forcing Nick Marshall to beat Alabama with his arm. I don't think he can. Nick Saban wins his 5th game against Auburn as Alabama's coach. Alabama 42, Auburn 14
Ryan McMunn (Producer of 'The Chris Stewart Show' and 'The Game')
This is the game all Bama fans have been looking forward to for a year now. Alabama is playing for a spot in the SEC Championship Game and a possible spot in the College Football Playoff. Auburn is playing for pride and are attempting to get a better bowl game bid. Is it as significant a game as it was last season? Absolutely not. However, this has an eerily similar feeling to the rematch with Tim Tebow's Florida Gators in the 2009 SEC Championship Game. Alabama has more talent, greater motive, and the revenge factor on their side, so this game won't be very close.
Auburn gets criticized often for their poor defensive performances, but they are surprisingly ranked higher than many people may realize, being ranked 38th nationally in rush defense and 77th in pass defense, These stats may not look impressive, but the Tigers are, statistically, average on defense. Georgia gave the paradigm on how to shut them down (run the ball between the tackles and pressure Nick Marshall. Also, not turning the ball over helps tremendously), and Alabama choosing to deviate from that game plan would seem slightly outlandish. Alabama gets the job done in the first Iron Bowl played at night in Bryant-Denny and moves one step closer to getting a seat at the College Football Playoff table. Alabama 41, Auburn 20
Trey Brooks (Producer)
Auburn struggles against the run. Their offense was able to overcome this in the past, but it's catching up with them now. I expect a heavy dose of Derrick Henry in this one.
The X-factor in this game will be Duke Williams. If he plays and isn't hampered by his injury too much, it could be a long day for the Ride secondary. If not, I can't see Sammie Coates making enough plays by himself to pull this out. Alabama 32, Auburn 24
Kevin Connell (Contributor)
Has anyone forgotten about what happened on that night in Auburn a year ago? Certainly not if you're an Auburn fan, and probably not if you're an Alabama player, either, as much as some want to pretend it never happened. That alone should supply plenty of motivation for the Crimson Tide, angry about what could have potentially been a third straight national championship-winning season. This year, the circumstances won't be any different for Alabama: win and you're (almost) in.
Auburn isn't quite the team it was a season ago, but that shouldn't mean it should be feared any less. As has been the case on several occasions in this rivalry, this one will again come down to the wire. Alabama 27, Auburn 23
Ben George (Digital Managing Editor)
Once again, we arrive at the Iron Bowl with national championship hopes hanging in the balance. This year, Alabama sits #1 in the nation and two wins away from a College Football Playoff berth. Auburn, meanwhile, can only hope to salvage its season by derailing Alabama. Having WR Duke Williams back will help the Tigers offensively, but it’ll be up to the defense to keep them in the game. I’m looking for the Crimson Tide to attack this secondary and use the energy inside Bryant-Denny Stadium to jump out to an early lead. As long as they don’t let their foot off of the gas (which we’ve seen this year), Nick Saban and this team will be headed to Atlanta. Alabama 42, Auburn 21