AUBURN, AL — In one of the biggest rivalries in college football, Alabama-Auburn is one of the very best. While Alabama is a better all-around team coming into Jordan-Hare Saturday, their defense is one of the best in the Nick Saban era.
Alabama’s offense is one of the most underrated in the country and their special teams is number one is almost every country. For the Auburn Tigers to have a chance to win the Iron Bowl they must play their best game of the season.
How will Auburn knock off the giants of college football?
1) First, the Tigers must ride the energy in the stadium by scoring early and getting big stops. In one of the loudest stadiums in college football Auburn must take advantage of the crowd early while it is at its loudest. Building an early lead is an absolute must if Auburn wants to win this game.
Getting a few stops and scoring on an early drive will give this Auburn team confidence that they can win this game
2) Next, the Tigers must stop Alabama’s big plays. TJ Yeldon, Kevin Norwood, and Amari Cooper are all big play threats. Yeldon’s rare combination of speed and power allow him to be able to go the distance any time he touches the ball. Norwood and Cooper are always a threat on a play action pass. Cooper is averaging 16.9 yards per catch and Norwood is averaging 15.9 yards per catch. Auburn defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson, must find a way to stop these big plays.
3) The Tigers defense must put pressure on AJ McCarron. If McCarron has time in the backfield he can pick apart any defense in college football. The Auburn defensive line lead by senior defensive ends Nosa Eguae and Dee Ford must force McCarron out of the pocket.
Getting sacks early on downs will force the Crimson Tide to get off schedule and throw the ball early on downs.
4) Auburn must win the field position battle either by pinning the Tide deep on a punt or by getting big returns on kick offs or punts. Auburn return man, Chris Davis, leads the country in punt return yards. Auburn running back, Tre Mason, returned one kickoff for a touch down and was three yards short of another one.
Giving the Auburn offense a short field to work with will be key to scoring often and quickly. Steven Clark is averaging 42 yards a punt at home this season for the Tigers. Clark also has the least punts returned for positive yards in the nation.
Making the Tide start inside their own 20 will give the Tigers defense a larger opportunity to pressure McCarron.
Can Auburn continue to be the team of destiny and usurp Alabama from their throne on top of the college football world? Alabama is favored to win this game but this unmatched atmosphere could give Auburn what it needs to beat the Tide.