What You Need To Know For The 2020 Iron Bowl
Background and Basics For the 85th Iron Bowl:
- Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
Saturday, November 28, 2020, at 2:30 local time (CST) - Radio: Tide 100.9 / TV: CBS
- Forecast (Courtesy of weather.com):
Temperatures will in the mid-to-low 60s with light gusts coming from the Southwest.
- Injury and COVID-19 update:
- No. 1 Alabama (7-0): Due to a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 this week, the Crimson Tide will take the field, for the first time in over 5000 days, behind a coach not named “Saban.” Barring any further positive tests, it looks like Alabama will have a fully healthy roster minus a handful of injured players. As of Saturday morning, WR Slade Bolden (ankle injury), TE Miller Forristall (ankle injury), and DE Phidarian Mathis (leg injury) are all listed as questionable for the Iron Bowl.
- No. 22 Auburn (5-2): The Tigers, as of gameday morning, have only reported one positive COVID-19 test from this week. On the injury side, OL Alec Jackson (leg injury), OL Brodarious Hamm (undisclosed), and RB Tank Bigsby (hip injury) are all still currently listed as questionable for the rivalry outing. Auburn’s leading receiver, junior WR Seth Williams, who sustained an injury in their most previous matchup, is expected to play in the Iron Bowl according to HC Gus Malzahn.
Betting (Courtesy of ESPN and Caesars Sportsbook):
ESPN’s prediction: No. 1 Alabama - 92.2% chance
Spread: No. 1 Alabama, -24.5
Over/Under: 63 points
Setting and Storylines To Keep An Eye On:
Alabama has an all-time record of 46-37-1 against their little brother from the plains and hasn’t lost an Iron Bowl matchup in Tuscaloosa since November 26, 2010. However, the Crimson Tide has only managed to push 9-11 since the turn of the 21st century.
This season, both of Auburn’s losses have come during road trips (Georgia and South Carolina). 2020 for the Tide, on the other hand, has turned out well despite multiple key injuries and a few COVID scares. As mentioned, Alabama will be playing this Iron Bowl minus their fearless leader in Nick Saban. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will take over the Bama football reins and play-calling as the boss man recovers from COVID-19. Nevertheless, coaches aren’t suiting up to play and dynasties don’t matter in a college rivalry game.
Here are two key playmakers to keep an eye on for the afternoon:
- Mac Jones - redshirt junior quarterback: Alabama’s gunslinger has positioned himself to win the coveted Heisman Trophy with the decision-making skills and talent of a first-round draft pick during his breakout season. Jones leads the SEC in both, completion percentage (77.11%) and QBR rating (205.07) through the Tide’s first seven games. He’s currently ranked second for SEC passing yards (2426 yds), only to fellow Heisman candidate, Florida QB Kyle Trask (2554 yds). The caveat? - Mac Jones has 45 fewer passing attempts than the conference leader in yards through the air.
- Seth Williams - junior wide receiver: Williams is the Auburn leader in receiving yards and is tied for most receiving TD for the season. His position as an offensive mentor and tone-setter, however, is unmeasurable. He makes “big-time plays in big-time games,” and always seems to show up a just the right spots for the Tigers.
Keys to a Victory For Each Team:
No. 1 Alabama (7-0)
- With Auburn RB Tank Bigsby nursing a hip injury (and their second-leading rusher being their QB), Bama needs to force the Tigers to throw the ball, especially as Bigsby has yet to put the ball on the ground for the season. On the other side of the ball, the Tiger defense has worked itself into the top five SEC squads for both sacks and interceptions. Auburn’s defense has also managed to only allow 237.0 passing yards per game, which comes in at second for the SEC. Alabama will need to get into a rhythm with the rushing game and Najee Harris to open up the big down-field passing opportunities.
No. 22 Auburn (5-2)
- Alabama’s offense leads the SEC in points per game with 49.5 while, concurrently, the Auburn defense is top three for the least points allowed per outing (22.0 pts/game). In his last four games, sophomore QB Bo Nix has the same number of interceptions and along with one of the lowest completion percentages in the SEC, Auburn’s keys to victory will be: ball security and time of possession.
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