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Alabama vs. Auburn Preview Article

VirginiaCavs

CTG Junior Moderator
Alabama vs. Auburn College Football Week 13 Expert Picks

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers
Saturday, November 27, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn

Auburn's Situation

I would normally shrug off a loss like the one Auburn suffered last Saturday -- the Tigers lost, straight-up, as seven-point favorites in South Carolina -- when it takes place before such a big game as Alabama vs. Auburn.

It wouldn't be the first time where a team overlooks a perceived weaker opponent because it has a game on deck that it cares more about -- one example from last year would be Florida overlooking LSU before giving Alabama all it has.

But Auburn didn't only lose to South Carolina. The Tigers find themselves in the midst of a three-game losing streak.

Before losing to the Gamecocks, they still had Box Nix at quarterback and yet they still lost as 5.5-point favorites to Mississippi State after losing by 17 at Texas A&M.

This losing streak, of course, comes at the worst possible time. Alabama is a difficult opponent for a team to rediscover its footing against.

Another pressing instance of bad timing is Bo Nix's season-ending injury.

The starting quarterback would have been a very helpful weapon to have on the field. He already has experience beating Alabama as he was the starting quarterback in Auburn's last victory over the Tide, which happened in 2019.

Nix is a gamer, an x-factor, who is adept at making plays when no plays seem available to make.

He is a scrambler who, when he passes, will put his playmakers, waiting for him in space, in position to succeed.

T.J. Finley, a transfer from LSU, does not have nearly the same experience or chemistry with Auburn playmakers that Nix does.

Finley threw a third of the passes that he has this entire season in last Saturday's loss to South Carolina.

Auburn's Pass Defense

While losing the offensive centerpiece -- Nix was not only the team's leading passer, but also its third-leading rusher -- is obviously crucial, I am actually more worried about Auburn's defense than about its offense.

Specifically, the Tigers are repeatedly weak against the pass.

Their pass defense's weakness is largely explainable by the inconsistency of their pass rush.

For example, they managed zero sacks against a statistically mediocre Penn State pass protection unit, which helped Nittany Lion quarterback Sean Clifford accomplish a passer rating more than 40 points above his season average.

Likewise, they mustered two sacks against Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers, despite the fact that he dropped back 55 times. He amassed almost a season-high 415 yards and a season-high six touchdowns.

Auburn's pass rush is confined to succeeding against teams like South Carolina that rank outside the top 100 in limiting the opponent's sack rate.

Because Alabama is not one of those bottom-feeders in terms of pass protection, the Tiger pass rush's outlook for Saturday is negative.

Plus, issues in coverage further plague Auburn's pass defense. The Tiger backfield has evidently been damaged by the plethora of moving parts that dramatized its offseason.

Overall, the Tigers rank 98th in limiting the opponent's passer rating.

Alabama Offense vs. Auburn Defense

While Alabama will gladly run the ball, led by Brian Robinson's 4.9 YPC, the Tide pass attack is uniquely loaded.

Regardless of the efficacy of the opposing pass rush, Heisman hopeful Bryce Young is essentially unstoppable.

Young regularly eclipses 300 passing yards in a game and he has thrown 38 passing touchdowns to three interceptions.

With his 186.2 passer rating and several playmaking pass-catchers to help him out, Young will be too much for Auburn's low-ranked secondary.

Wide receivers like speedster Jameson Williams -- who has the sixth-most receiving yards in the nation -- give the Bama offense the added ability, moreover, to score quickly, which is helpful in a game with a big spread.

Alabama on the Road

One might question Alabama's reliability to succeed on the road, but its road problems are a thing of the past.

In its last road game, the Tide won 49-9 at Mississippi State.

The issue has generally been one of concentration. For example, they were not focused against Florida and therefore allowed the Gators to creep back into the game.

But after losing to Texas A&M, they were naturally angry and therefore totally locked in at Mississippi State.

Since Auburn is a heated rival, I expect the strongly emotional nature of the atmosphere to keep the Tide locked in.

Best Bet: Crimson Tide - 19.5 at -110 with BetOnline
 

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