How to watch: Alabama Crimson Tide football vs. Auburn
Kyle Henderson of BamaInsider.com provides you with a complete game preview between Alabama and Auburn for the 2019 Iron Bowl.
Who: Alabama (10-1) at Auburn (8-3)
When: 2:30 p.m. CT
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Alabama
Watch: CBS, play-by-play Brad Nessler, Analyst: Gary Danielson, Sideline: Jamie Erdahl
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (play-by-play: Eli Gold, analyst: John Parker Wilson)
1. Vegas has Alabama as a 3.5 favorite
Vegas knows all right? The opening lines out of Las Vegas, Nevada has the Crimson Tide as a 3.5 favorite. On the season, the Crimson Tide is 10-1 on the season and is 6-5 against the spread. The Auburn Tigers are 8-3 on the season and 5-2 against the spread at home. The two teams have split the last two games, Alabama winning 52-21 at Bryant-Denny last season and with Auburn winning 26-14 at Jordan Hare in 2017. Overall, the Crimson Tide control the series history 46-36-1.
2. Alabama’s offense vs. Auburn’s defense
When we look at what could be the key matchup this weekend between Alabama’s offense and Auburn’s defense, we should see a collision of two of the top units in college football. For the Crimson Tide, Mac Jones will be making his third career start at quarterback and his first on the road. On the season, Jones has been outstanding throwing for 841-yards with seven touchdowns and one interception with an efficiency rating of 190.58.
It seems that all Jones has to do is get the ball out to his playmakers on the outside: DeVonta Smith has 60 receptions for 1,120-yards with 13 touchdowns, Jerry Jeudy has 66 receptions for 933-yards with nine touchdowns, Henry Ruggs III has 620-yards with six touchdowns, and Jaylen Waddle has 28 receptions with 455-yards. Alabama running back Najee Harris has been on fire as of late and on the season he has 942-yards rushing with 10 touchdowns and he also has 23 receptions for 278-yards with an additional seven scores.
While Auburn’s defense is built to stop the run, keeping Harris involved in the game plan will be important. Overall, the Crimson Tide is averaging 48.5 points per game which is second in the country and averaging 344.3-yards passing the football, third in the nation.
The Tigers have one of the most stingy defenses in all of college football. On the season, the Tigers rank No. 14 overall allowing just 306-yards per game and 4.81-yards per play. They are also ranked No. 18 in the country in run defense allowing just 3.27-yards per carry and No. 28 in pass defense allowing 196.9-yards passing per game. This season, Auburn who has played a very difficult schedule allowed the following: 21 points against Oregon, 20 against Texas A&M, 24 against Florida, 23 against LSU, and 21 against Georgia. Their defense is responsible for them being in both games against No. 1 LSU which they lost 23-20 and against Georgia which they lost 21-14. Auburn’s Pro-football focus defensive grades look like this: 92.7 overall, 93.7 against the run, and 91.0 against the pass.
It starts up front for Auburn as they have one of the top tandems in college football. 6-foot-5, 318-pound defensive tackle Derrick Brown has 42 tackles this season with four sacks. Marlon Davidson is a 6-foot-3, 278-pound defensive end that has 11.5 tackles for a loss this season with six sacks. At the linebacker position, watch for KJ Britt who has a Pro-football focus grade of 91.7 against the run and has eight and half tackles for a loss with three sacks.
Auburn’s secondary is filled with upperclassmen. Corners are Jarviars Davis who has an 80.5 grade in coverage and Noah Ighinoghene who has a 68.4 grade in coverage. Their safeties are exceptional, Jeremiah Dinson has 69 tackles with two interceptions, Daniel Thompson has 60 tackles, and Christian Tutt has a 70.5 grade in coverage. The Tigers will be without Jamien Sherwood for the first half as he was suspended against Samford with a targeting call.
3. Auburn’s offense vs. Alabama’s defense
The Tigers are led at quarterback by true freshman Bo Nix. On the season, Nix has been effective moving the football throwing for 2,193-yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. Nix has thrown for over 300-yards just twice on the season, once against Mississippi State and against Ole Miss.
The Tigers have went with DJ Williams at running back as of late. Williams has 371-yards on the season and ran for 130-yards against LSU. Jatarvious Whitlow had two 100-yard games earlier in the season and on the year Whitlow has 625-yards rushing. Nix’ go-to receiver is Seth Williams who attending high school at Paul Bear Bryant. On the year, Williams has recorded 52 receptions for 735-yards with eight touchdowns.
The Crimson Tide has been ridiculed plenty this season for allowing too many points and yards, but when you look at the numbers, they are still ranked No. 10 in scoring defense in the country allowing 16.2 points per game and it’s important to note that they have held five opponents this season to less than 10 points. The Tide is also ranked No. 33 in rush defense allowing 130-yards per game and No. 13 in pass defense allowing 184-yards per game, not terrible numbers for 11 games played.
Personnel wise the Crimson Tide is anchored in the secondary by Xavier McKinney at safety who has 77 tackles and three interceptions on the season, including two picks last game against Western Carolina. The Crimson Tide’s linebacker corps is led by Terrell Lewis who has 30 tackles with 10.5 for a loss and six sacks along with with Anfernee Jennings who has 67 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, and seven and a half sacks. The Crimson Tide start two true freshmen at inside linebacker, Shane Lee and Christian Harris. Lee has 70 tackles on the year and Harris has over 50 tackles.
The big question for this week is whether or not Raekwon Davis, Alabama’s 6-foot-7, 315-pound defensive end will be good to go against Auburn after suffering a high ankle sprain against Mississippi State two weeks ago. If Davis is not ready, look for redshirt freshmen Christian Barmore to step up and step in. Barmore has been playing lights out lately and has 22 tackles on the season with five for a loss and two sacks.
Alabama’s corners are very steady with Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain II combing for 14 pass deflections and five interceptions.
4. Nick Saban vs. Gus Malzahn
Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn will meet for the seventh time this Saturday with Nick Saban winning four of the six matchups. Malzahn’s two wins over Saban both come when playing at home against the Tide, beating Alabama in 2017 and in 2013.
5. Wat’s at stake for each Alabama and Auburn
For the Crimson Tide its pretty simple. Beat Auburn and their playoff chances only increase and the Tide will hope for LSU to run the table in the SEC. With a LSU win over Georgia in the SEC Championship, the playoff committee will be hard-pressed not to take a one-loss Alabama team into the playoffs considering their only loss would be to undefeated LSU by just five points.
For Auburn beating Alabama would mean that Malzahn stays as Auburn’s head football coach. As much as Auburn fans want to move on from Malzahn coaching the Tigers, beating Nick Saban for a third time would surely lock up another year or two for the Gus Bus.