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November 23, 2012
Staff Picks: Iron Bowl
The TideSports.com staff make their predictions for Iron Bowl.
Alabama had the home-field advantage the last time an SEC opponent came to town, and Texas A&M beat the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. The last time Auburn came to Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2010, the Tigers rallied for a stunning victory and went on to win the national championship. Auburn seems to have been in decline ever since, but you can't measure heart in this game. Most of the time, the better team wins.
After installing Alabama as a 35-point favorite, it's clear oddsmakers figure this Iron Bowl to be one of the most lopsided since, well, 2008. There is some recent history for a heavily favored Auburn team giving Alabama fits (2009). But that was a much better Tigers team at home. This is a much worse one on the road.
In Tommy Tuberville's Alabama-Auburn game, the Tigers did not score. Zero in Pat Dye's farewell and Shug Jordan's too. Mike DuBose and Ears Whitworth suffered the same fate. So picking half the score was easy. For the other half, I just went back four years, although Auburn has probably regressed beyond that point.
Incredibly, Alabama once again got the help it needed to get back into the championship picture and for the fifth straight year a team enters the Iron Bowl with a chance to finish the season No. 1. I very much want to call the shutout given all the incentive the Crimson Tide has to play well, but the starters will probably be out of the game as soon as possible to get ready for the SEC Championship Game. Bid a fond farewell to Gene Chizik.
Now that the BCS stars have realigned and Alabama controls its own destiny again, Auburn will not have the fortune of facing an emotionally drained Crimson Tide. With the sudden turn of events, Alabama should be re-focused and determined not to waste this second opportunity.
It sounds crazy saying this about an Iron Bowl, but Alabama can't afford to look past Auburn to the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. For the second straight year Alabama has been given a second chance to play for a national title if it takes care of business today and against Georgia. The Tide has to forget about the Tigers' 0-7 record in the SEC and just dominate from the start and put any Auburn thoughts of an upset to bed early.
This has been a strange season, with some weird endings to games and some eyebrow-raising upsets. And the Crimson Tide knows well what can happen without a strong effort today. Hopefully, those lackadaisical starts are over. This is the stretch run - the championship run - and nothing less than an all-out effort is acceptable. UA will jump on top quickly, build up a good lead and once again give reserves some playing time.
Alabama adds to the string of blowout Iron Bowl victories under the leadership of Nick Saban that includes 36-0 in 2008 and 42-14. The only thing that could make this game close is....well there is no scenario I can see that would keep Auburn in this game in the fourth quarter.
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