Iron Bowl expectations are heavily leaned towards an Alabama football blowout. However, I expect this Auburn team to use a gameplan that has shown effectiveness against the Tide this season.
What if I told you that the teams that had the most success against Alabama football this year ran the football?
It would be surprising considering this has been a staple of Coach Nick Saban’s defense in shutting down the run. But the weakness in the Alabama defense has been found in running to the edges.
Going into this season the main concern for the Alabama football defense was its inexperienced and young secondary. Even with suffering the loss of its best corner in Trevon Diggs, the Tide’s secondary has risen to the challenge in pass coverage so far this season.
However, where the secondary has consistently struggled is protecting the outside containment during the running game.
Savion Smith has particularly struggled in containment and missed tackles this season during the running attack. A clear example was against The Citadel.
I expect the Auburn Tigers to attack Smith’s side of the field with a variety of toss and possible RPO option plays.
In the past, Gus Malzahn has shown using option plays early in the game to bait the corners to flow downfield towards the line, leaving their receiver uncovered. Resulting later in the game of passes to wide open receivers on option plays and touchdown scores.
For Auburn going into this Iron Bowl, there is nothing to lose but everything to gain. This is Auburn’s National Championship. Beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa would not only provide a level of success to Auburn’s season but possibly save Malzahn’s job.
If the Tide blow out the Tigers as the experts predict with an opening betting line favoring Alabama Football by 24 points, then the wheels may officially come off the Gus Bus permanently.
Tricky Running Tigers
If there is a game that Auburn will pull out every trick in the book it is this one. I expect fake punts, wildcat, flea-flickers, RPO, option, onside kicks, etc throughout the game. Which actually helps Alabama because it will require Alabama to remain disciplined in coverage and communication throughout all levels of their defensive schemes.
Auburn is going to do everything in its power to establish the running game throughout the game. The game for Auburn hinges on running the football because it is the only way that Jarrett Stidham has a chance to be effective in the passing game.
The offensive line for Auburn this year has limited the ability of Stidham to find success as he did last year due to their inability to establish the run.
The run also has a side effect for its defense. It keeps Tua Tagovailoa off the field. Against the Citadel in the first half, the offense only had four possessions and the time of possession was heavily in favor of the Bulldogs by a time of 19:14 to 10:43. If Auburn is able to control the clock through running it limits the time that Tagovailoa has to get in rhythm and exploit the defense.
For Auburn, this Iron Bowl will be its last chance to save its lackluster season. With the SEC championship and playoff hopes out of reach, nothing would bring more joy to Tiger fans this holiday season than repeating the outcome of last year’s Iron Bowl.
The only way that Auburn is able to have a repeat of last year’s Iron Bowl is by establishing a running attack against the Crimson Tide on the edges.
If Auburn is able to accomplish this feat it will give them the ability to control the clock and for Stidham to have time to throw.
However, if Auburn is not able to establish a running game early and throughout the game then I expect Tua Tagovailoa to be on the bench in the fourth quarter due to an absolute blowout.
Comment below on your score prediction for the game. Also, comment on how you expect Auburn to attack the Tide during this year’s Iron Bowl.