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Nov 26, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) scrambles up the field against the Auburn Tigers during the fourth quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama defeated the Auburn Tigers 30-12. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama at Auburn

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Alabama -4.5

The Iron Bowl is one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports and this year the meaning has National Title implications. Auburn with a loss will be out of contention for one of the four playoff spots. Alabama on the other hand, still has a shot with a loss, but a loss makes the likelihood of a playoff tenuous at best. Let’s take a look at the keys and match-ups that will decide this game.

Has Alabama been tested this year?

Very simply, no they haven’t. It’s not Bamas fault that Florida State didn’t end up being good this year or that the SEC had a down year, outside of three teams. Even though it’s not their fault, the lack of competition has to be worrisome for the Crimson Tide fans. What happens when the Tide are pushed? Now I don’t think that in the end it will be a problem for Alabama, but it has to be a concern.

Can Auburn contain the Alabama rushing attack?

Alabama averages over 270 yards a game and they have more than one running back that can do damage. Damien Harris (855 yards and 12 touchdowns) and continuing with Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs and true freshmen Najee Harris and Brian Robinson. In addition to the options at running back, quarterback Jalen Hurts has chipped in 686 yards and eight scores on the ground this season. The Tide as always has a big physical offensive line and would give any team trouble.

Auburn is a team that seems equipped to at least slow down the Tide’s running game. Teams have averaged less than 120 yards per game. Auburn has a fast, athletic and aggressive front seven that should be able to compete with Alabama. This match-up in my opinion will be a huge key when it comes to winning this game.

Can Auburn score enough points to win this game?

Alabama under their Head Coach are usually dominant and this year is no different than the past. Now here’s the kicker: they have injuries to key players. Linebackers Shaun Dion Hamilton, Christian Miller, Terrell Lewis and Mack Wilson were each sidelined with a significant injury for the remainder of the season. There’s a chance Alabama could get Miller or Lewis back in the lineup, but it’s uncertain if either will be able to go for the Iron Bowl.

Auburn leads the SEC by generating 27 plays of 40 yards or more this season. The addition of quarterback Jarrett Stidham has been huge for this offense. Stidham has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 2,445 yards and 16 touchdowns and has connected on 17 throws of 40 yards or more. The sophomore’s favorite target is Ryan Davis (58 catches), but Darius Slayton (28.1 ypc), Will Hastings (19 catches) and Eli Stove (26 receptions) are three other names to watch in the passing attack.

Prediction: Injuries to Alabama concern me and will allow Auburn to have some success on offense. Can Auburn slowdown the Tide’s rushing attack? I think they will be able to slow them down, but in the end the difference in this game will be quarterback Jalen Hurts who will make enough big plays with his arm and feet to win this game.

Alabama 27  Auburn 24
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