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November 19, 2012

The Hangover, Part XI: Scouting Alabama

Who: Auburn (3-8, 0-7 SEC) at No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1)

When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. CT

Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821) | Tuscaloosa, Ala.

TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson)

Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network (WVRK-FM 102.9 in Columbus)

Line: Alabama -31.5

What to know about the Crimson Tide: For the second straight league game, Auburn’s opponent looks at a win-and-they’re-in to the SEC Championship game scenario. So the stakes are fairly high … after Saturday night’s upsets to K-State and Oregon, the second-ranked Crimson Tide and third-ranked Georgia control their own destiny to the BCS Championship game … how’s this for symmetry: Alabama, nationally, ranks first in scoring defense (10.1 points per game), second in total defense (240.1 yards), third in rush defense (75.6) and fourth in pass defense (164.4). All figures are tops in the SEC. No matter what measure you use, the Nick Saban-Kirby Smart defense is pretty stout … the Crimson Tide’s offense has shown up too: its 38.1 points per game ranks second in the conference, and is up a field-goal average from the 2011 champs … A.J. McCarron’s 172.44 passing efficiency ranks third in the country. He’s just a hair behind Georgia’s Aaron Murray, the national leader (174.33) who carved up Auburn for three passing touchdowns two weeks ago … cornerback Dee Milliner is one of five finalists for the Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation’s best defender … Alabama’s 49-0 win over Western Carolina last weekend is the program’s 21st shutout in 21 seasons.

When last they met: No. 2 Alabama 42, Auburn 14 … Nov. 26, 2011 in Auburn: The Crimson Tide sailed through on their ultimate journey to the national championship, behind Trent Richardson’s 203 rushing yards and McCarron’s three first-half passing touchdowns. Auburn scored touchdowns defensively (Corey Lemonier forced a McCarron fumble which Kenneth Carter recovered in the end zone) and on special teams (Onterio McCalebb’s 83-yard kick return), but the offense were smothered to just 140 total yards and nine first downs. Clint Moseley completed 11-of-18 passes for 62 yards, and Quan Bray made five grabs.

All-time series: Alabama leads the rivalry 41-34-1. On campus, however, the Tigers hold a 14-5 advantage, including an impressive 7-1 in Tuscaloosa. The Tide’s lone home win was 36-0 in 2008, but the Tigers garnered revenge two years later by erasing a 24-0 deficit and roaring back to win 28-27 on their way to the national title. Auburn has won seven of the last ten matchups. The series took a two-generation hiatus from 1908-47 over financial and officiating discrepancies, after which the series remained in Birmingham for the next 40 years.

Which Tiger is licking his chops: Sophomore tailback Tre Mason, who needs to etch out 80 yards for his first 1,000-yard season. It would give Auburn its fourth straight season with a 1,000-yard rusher. As the previously mentioned Alabama run defense would indicate, though, it won’t come easily.

Who’s keeping the Auburn coaches up at night: It’s not an exaggeration to say Alabama plays team football better than anybody else in the country, in all three phases of the game.

Extra point: Mason and McCalebb’s yards-per-carry against non-SEC opponents: 8.3. Their YPC against the SEC: 4.2. They’ll need to find no worse than a middle ground to have a fighting chance Saturday.

-AB

5 Comments

  1. If Alabama doesn’t take care of business, Florida goes, and it’s a disappointing season in Athens.

    This doesn’t make any sense.

    Comment by War Eagle — November 19, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

  2. It is so obvious to say but alas somebody must….it goes without saying that winning this game may not erase the sins of this season’s coaching staff….but it sure would be one heck of a Christmas gift to take Alabama out of the National Championship hunt and effectively kill their season’s goals. I know it will take more than good coaching (which we don’t have) and players putting out 110% (think they will for this game)….perhaps some fairy dust or clicking of the red ruby shoes…..but WDE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Eric — November 19, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  3. “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?…..YEAH!!” -Lloyd Christmas

    Comment by Jesse — November 19, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

  4. I don’t want to seem picky but, since Florida is in the Eastern Division of the SEC, they would not go to the championship if Alabama loses to Auburn. Bama would be tied with LSU whom they’ve already defeated and would probably go anyway. Florida would have the second best record in the SEC but has lost to Georgia and can’t go as Eastern representative. I think you have Athens and Tuscalusa mixed up also.

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

    BEAT BAMA !!!

    Comment by Domaucan1 from BRLA — November 19, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

  5. Thanks to you that commented on that error. The sentence “If Alabama doesn’t take care of business, Florida goes, and it’s a disappointing season in Athens.” was not supposed to be in that blog post. It’s been removed, and now the paragraph should make sense. On a side note, scroll down in the WarEagleExtra.com timeline for SEC West Tiebreaker scenarios, which shows how LSU or Texas A&M could conceivably get to Atlanta.
    Appreciate you reading.
    AB

    Comment by Aaron Brenner — November 19, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

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