AUBURN TIGERS (3-8)
at ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (10-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Alabama -33.5, Total: 46
No. 2 Alabama tries to clinch the SEC West title when it faces rival Auburn in the annual Iron Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
The road team has won three straight in this series, including Alabama’s 42-14 pasting last year when it outgained Auburn 397 to 140. The Tigers are 0-7 SU (2-5 ATS) in SEC play this season, getting outscored 31.9 PPG to 11.6 PPG by conference foes. Crimson Tide QB AJ McCarron finished 18-of-23 for 184 yards and 3 TD in last year’s Iron Bowl and currently ranks third in FBS passing efficiency with 21 TD and 2 INT.
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The Tigers are trying to avoid their first winless season in the SEC since 1980, and will try to do just that by running the football with the duo of Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb. Both Mason (181 yards) and McCalebb (104 yards) topped the century mark in rushing yards last week versus FCS school Alabama A&M, marking the second time this season the pair has each eclipsed 100 rushing yards. Mason has come up big in his past two SEC road games, rushing for 167 yards on just 28 carries (4.9 YPC) with three touchdowns. Freshman QB Jonathan Wallace will start under center, and has played pretty well in conference action, completing 22-of-32 passes for 314 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT over three games (one start, two outings off the bench). The defense in SEC play has been quite a different story, allowing 39.8 PPG in the past four games facing conference foes. The Tigers have forced just three turnovers in these four contests, with all three coming against Vanderbilt.
Alabama's ground game is a little nicked up with the top two rushers, Eddie Lacy (hand) and T.J. Yeldon (foot) both on the injury list. However, both are expected to play on Saturday. The Crimson Tide average 209 rushing YPG this season, but that number has dropped considerably in the past three conference games, as they have gained just 156 rushing YPG. But part of that is due to the surge from the passing offense. McCarron has thrown for an average of 224 YPG in the past five games, a huge jump from the first six contests (195 YPG). Alabama's defense has been vulnerable in the past two SEC games (at LSU, vs. Texas A&M), allowing 23.0 PPG on 427 total YPG. However, even with those two subpar performances, the Tide still lead the nation in scoring defense (10.1 PPG) and are second in the country in total defense (240 YPG).