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Auburn vs. Alabama

College Football Game of the Week

Betting Line: Alabama -4.5 o/u 58

11/26/10

It's been a while since the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn has been this anticipated. Fans of not just the two teams, but of college football in general, have been waiting to see these teams do battle all year long. The defending BCS Champs Alabama sit at 9-2 and were last seen crushing a very overmatched Georgia State team 63-7. The Auburn Tigers are perfect at 11-0, but some of their closest games have been on the road. They narrowly beat Kentucky 37-34, and only beat Mississippi State 17-14. Regardless, a win is a win, but they must leave Tuscaloosa with a win to keep their BCS title hopes alive.

Both of these teams know how to get points on the board in a hurry, but the edge on offense goes to Auburn. They have one of the best QBs in the nation in Cameron Newton. He's been shrouded in scandal lately due to claims his father sought money for his attendance to Auburn. This could hurt his focus. We didn't see that last week against Georgia when he rushed for 2 TDs and passed for 2 more, but this Alabama defense is a whole other beast compared to the Bulldogs. Not only that, but they will be feeding off the crowd and licking their chops for a chance to spoil their rivals hopes at taking down a BCS Championship. If Newton goes in here and has a big game yet again, and his team wins, he will almost certainly win the Heisman Trophy.

While Auburn has one very powerful offensive player in Cam Newton, the Tide has three in Greg McElroy, Trent Richardson, and Heisman winner Mark Ingram. McElroy has improved tremendously since the early part of 2009, and is a legitimate top FBS QB. On the year the senior has passed for 2,390 yards and 17 TDs. He has minimized mistakes and gone from a liability at QB to an asset. The tutelage It's not him that makes the offense move, but the RB duo of Richardson and Ingram.

Trent Richardson was a machine filling in for Ingram in the early stages of 2010. He racked up 144 yards and a TD against Penn State in the second game of the year. He has missed the last two games, but Nick Saban has been quoted as saying he is confident he will play in the Iron Bowl. Ingram missed the first two games of the year, but has been making up for lost time ever since. He rushed for 97 yards and a TD in Alabama's loss to LSU. He had an enormous game in the Tide's come from behind win over Arkansas by racking up 151 yards and 2 TDs. He busted loose on a 50 yard run in that game.

The Crimson Tide's defense ranks 3rd in the country in Points Against at 13.1 PPG. The potent Arkansas offense could only manage 20 points against them. South Carolina picked up 35 points, so it's not impossible to get points on the board against this group. However, given the environment, and the nature of this rivalry, we can expect them to play their very best football. HC Nick Saban is a mastermind and will give QB Cameron Newton his best challenge of the year. Perhaps the most important matchup in this game is Newton vs. the Alabama defense. Both are very stellar, but one has to give. The winning team is likely to be the one that wins that matchup.

In comparison, Auburn's defense has been poor. They allowed Georgia to get 31 points, and gave up 24 to lowly Chattanooga. Arkansas scored 43, and Ole Miss racked up 31. They have been winning games by simply outscoring the opposition. It looks like they will have to do that once again. 

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This may just be a magical year for Auburn. Let's face it, their 11-0 isn't a dominant 11-0 by any means. A play here and there and they could easily have lost 3 or 4 games. But, they didn't. They found a way to win. If you break down this game by the numbers, it comes up all Alabama. Auburns yards per point numbers are mediocre at best. A nice 11.7 on offense but a below average 14 defensively. Alabama weighs in with a very good 12 on offense and a fantastic 22.6 defensively, one of the best in the Nation. That's a yards per point edge of 8 BEFORE we factor in the Alabama home field edge. That explains the line move on this game from -3.5 to -4.5 despite 65% of the early wagers coming in on Auburn.

Yet another very accurate method we use to come up with a predicted score on a game, has Alabama winning 36-18. In a normal week, we would make Alabama a Key Release with a doubt. As of this writing on Tuesday, we are not going to play the game. That could change, so make sure you are signed up for our newsletter as that's where the Key Releases are sent first!

What worries us here is, while Alabama has the numbers, they haven't performed well when they needed it most. Sure, they put up some big numbers against San Jose, Duke, Tennessee and Georgia State. But look at the "good" teams they faced.  They lost to South Carolina and LSU, beat Arkansas by 4 and have a nice win over Florida. Far from dominant. Granted, 3 of the 4 were on the road. However, if SC, Arkansas and LSU could find the end zone against the Crimson Tide, you have to figure Auburn will find it as well.

We're likely not going to mess with destiny here. This is one of those years for Auburn. They have found a way to win 11 times this year. Why not one more? As it stands now, Auburn is on a collision course with Oregon. Wouldn't that be a heck of a National title game? Certainly Boise State will be rooting for Alabama here!

The numbers say Bama, but we have a hunch it's Auburn. as of now, we watch this one as a football fan with no stake in the outcome. Enjoy!


 

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