Calling the shot: No TDs for Tigers

November 27, 2015

 Predicting an Iron Bowl blowout is bold but unwise.

Too many Iron Bowl underdogs, particularly at home, have put up a fourth-quarter fight in college football's greatest rivalry (anyone remember 2009?) to assume Alabama will win Saturday in a romp.

But here's what we do know about this year's edition of the Iron Bowl: Auburn's offense has no real chance, and the prediction here is that it won't score a touchdown all day.

Because Auburn kicker Daniel Carson is good for three points just about any time, and from whatever distance, Gus Malzahn calls on him, there is very little chance that Alabama will notch it's third shutout in the series in the last eight years. But Alabama's run defense has swallowed whole better rushing offenses than Auburn's this year -- Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze recently called runs up the middle against the Tide "wasted plays" -- and Peyton Barber is most assuredly not going to be the first back this year to solve the Alabama defensive front. That puts the game squarely on the shoulders of a quarterback, presumably Jeremy Johnson, who has neither the weapons around him nor the confidence within him to steer any sustained offensive success for the Tigers.

The ingredients that led to Alabama notching Iron Bowl shutouts in 2008, and again in 2012, are present once again for 2015: 1) An impotent Auburn passing attack; 2) An utterly dominant Alabama run defense; and 3) A vast disparity in what each team has at stake entering the game.

Auburn's chance of staying close in this game rests entirely on its defense and special teams, with turnovers and/or non-offensive touchdowns being the critical equalizer. Short of that, it's going to be an awfully long day for the Tigers.

Prediction: Alabama 27, Auburn 6.

 

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