Auburn (8-3, 5-2) at Alabama (11-0, 7-0)
When: Saturday, November 26th 2016
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
Time: 3:30 ET | TV: CBS
The Alabama Crimson Tide look to cap off a perfect regular season when they host their bitter rival Auburn in the latest edition of the Iron Bowl. With a win today against Auburn and next week in the SEC Championship Game, the Crimson Tide are assured of the number one seed in the College Football Playoffs. Defense has been the key for Alabama all season as they own the top ranked rush defense in the nation at 69.4 yards per contest. They also rank second in scoring defense (11.4) with senior defensive end Jonathan Allen (seven sacks) rated a sure top-five pick in the next NFL draft. Senior outside linebacker Tim Williams leads the team with eight sacks, while senior outside linebacker Ryan Anderson has 14.5 tackles for losses. Sophomore strong safety Minkah Fitzpatrick leads the secondary with a team-best four interceptions. On offense, Alabama averages 40.3 points per game behind freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, who has accounted for 30 touchdowns (19 passing, 11 rushing) and thrown for 2,168 yards and added 803 on the ground. Alabama won six of the past eight meetings and holds a 44-35-1 series lead.
The Tigers are playing for pride and a better bowl as Alabama has already wrapped up the SEC West. Injuries to two key positions are a question mark for Auburn, who are expected to have the services of leading rusher Kamryn Pettway back in action after missing the last two games. Having Pettway (1,106 rushing yards) back to team with sophomore Kerryon Johnson (823) is huge for the Tigers who will go up against the best run defense in the country. The status of sophomore quarterback Sean White (shoulder) remains in doubt and it could be senior Jeremy Johnson behind center for Auburn. White is the more accurate passer with only three interceptions while passing for 1,644 yards and nine touchdowns, while Jeremy Johnson has only attempted 25 passes this season. Auburn ranks seventh in scoring defense (14.3 points per game) and 18th in total defense (334.5). The unit is led by junior outside linebacker Carl Lawson (team-best nine sacks) and senior cornerback Joshua Holsey (team-high three interceptions).
Alabama is obviously the superior team in this one, but the question remains – is the line too high. Oddsmakers have it set at 18 right now. with Pettway back for Auburn, I think the Tigers can do some damage against the tough ‘Bama defense. Enough so, that they can control some clock and keep this one close.
Pick: Auburn +18