3 advantages and 3 reasons why the Crimson Tide should be interested in the Iron Bowl – Update Alaba

Three more days.

Three more days until the next Iron Bowl.

Three more days for 2 amazing fanatical fandoms to emotionally prepare for a football war.

Three more days for the 2 teams to square off before bowing out in strange regular seasons.

Alabama isn’t in the Top 5, isn’t undefeated (or even one-loss), and isn’t contending for an SEC or national title.

Auburn is unranked, went through a midseason skid that saw its head coach fired, and needs a monster upset in Tuscaloosa to become bowl eligible.

Yes, the 2022 season hardly panned out the way the Crimson Tide and Tigers had hoped as fall camp dawned in August. It’s been a long road for both programs, a long journey from Labor Day weekend to Thanksgiving weekend, and both will arrive at Bryant-Denny Stadium with their own agendas.

The 8th ranked 9-2 Tide are looking to show they are still a powerhouse, they were just 2 games away from going undefeated and really 1 game away from still being in the SEC/National Championship picture.

The 5-6 Tigers are looking to show they’re on the move a little late in the season with their fiery interim head coach, their meager two-game winning streak and their quest to still play postseason football.

Three days to decide which program ends its uneven regular season the way it wants to.

And with 3 as the predominant number in our countdown to the start of the Iron Bowl, we give you 3 clear advantages that Alabama has over Auburn, as well as 3 reasons why Alabama should be a little worried as the Tigers come to Tuscaloosa for the 87th edition of what is likely to be a college . the best football rivalry.

3 advantages of Alabama

1. One dimensional War Eagle?

Yes, the Tigers boast one of the best running back tandems in the SEC with Tank Bigsby (907 yards, 10 TDs) and Jarquez Hunter (541 yards, 7 TDs). But then there is the negative flip side. Auburn is last in the conference, averaging just 181.4 yards per game through the air.

Quarterback Robby Ashford obviously has tremendous talent or he wouldn’t be at Auburn. But he played mostly as a rookie this season, collecting more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (6) and a paltry 45.8 quarterback rating. His completion percentage is just under 50 percent. Sure, Ashford is a threat against the run, with 589 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground this year, but defenses can essentially commit to stopping the Tigers’ run because Ashford’s arm doesn’t scare them.

That should scare Auburn fans as Saturday approaches. The Crimson Tide defense hasn’t been good at forcing turnovers this season, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been good. Bama ranks No. 2 in the SEC in sacks with 32, and while the Tide’s defense had its lapses in those road losses against Tennessee and LSU, the unit has been pretty spotless all fall at Bryant-Denny.

Bama defensive coordinator Pete Golding is in the running for the Broyles Award, given to the top assistant in college football, for a reason. If his crew can make Auburn 1-dimensional on Saturday, don’t count on Bigsby and Hunter, as good as they are, to get the Tigers out of trouble.

2. Bama has Bryce, Auburn doesn’t

It really is that simple. While the Tigers have a freshman quarterback in Ashford who is still very rough around the edges, the Tide have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner settling in after suffering a sprained shoulder in Week 5 at Arkansas. And while Bryce Young circa 2022 wasn’t quite the Bryce Young of 2021, he threw for 2,664 yards with 24 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. He also completed nearly 64 percent of his passes.

While his numbers don’t match last year’s Heisman-winning numbers, there’s also been a decline in the quality of his supporting cast, plus a shoulder injury in Fayetteville, a game he subsequently missed the following week against Texas A&M and an all-consuming rehab. Combine all that and you get this year’s Bryce: a very solid, if not as spectacular, version compared to last season.

But 2022 Bryce Young should still be very dangerous for a Tigers defense that has allowed 41, 42, 48, 41 and 39 points in 5 of 6 losses this season. Then roll to Saturday, likely to be Young’s final game in Tuscaloosa, assuming he goes pro after his junior season. If this is the last home game of his storied career at Alabama, can you honestly imagine how great Bryce Young is losing to a middling Auburn team?

Me neither. It looks like a place where Young helps Bam score about 40-45 points and runs off the court in Tuscaloosa one last time with his arm raised and tears ready to flow. Auburn has a huge challenge if it hopes to somehow spoil this expected swan song.

3. Bama has Saban, Auburn doesn’t

Look, we love what Cadillac Williams has done at The Plains so far. Was great. He was inspirational. And his return to that rivalry as a head coach after years of playing in the Iron Bowl in the early 2000s spiced up the game without the significance of a national championship or an SEC championship.

But let’s take off the orange-blue glasses and look at it realistically. Bryan Harsin was fired on Halloween, leaving Williams as the interim head coach at Auburn for less than 1 month. He coached 3 fewer games than the number of national championships Nick Saban won at Alabama. Let that sink in for a while.

When Williams faced Alabama as Auburn’s star running back from 2001-04, Saban had already made it to the SEC as a head coach at LSU. He won his first national title in Baton Rouge during Williams’ junior season at Auburn, so Saban has been doing it for a while. He didn’t always beat Auburn, just most of the time. After being an interim head coach for the fourth game of his career, it only takes a lot to take his team to Tuscaloosa and take down a Crimson Tide team that isn’t the usual Alabama, but is still pretty darn good.

The Iron Bowl has produced some unlikely, incredible heroes over the decades, but it’s hard to imagine Saban losing out to Williams for that spot.

Alabama’s 3 reasons to worry

1. The nothing-to-lose factor

How many times have you seen this, especially in a rivalry game? The big underdog rolls into town, forcing the issue all day or night because he’s expected to lose, and putting the favorite on his heels because he plays hard and doesn’t lose. At halftime, the impossible seems impossible; by the end of the 3rd quarter, the pressure rises; and at the end there will be a stunning upset that plays out in the tradition of this rivalry.

The answer is that you’ve seen it many times, because the most dangerous opponent—and the truly dangerous opponent in a rivalry like the Iron Bowl—is the one who takes the field with nothing to lose. Many times it helps on the field as well. Yes, of course Auburn has a lot to play for and a lot to lose. He knows a loss at Bama means he’s ineligible for a bowl game. But it was just a few weeks ago that the Tigers were 3-6 and fighting back just to stop a 5-game losing streak.

So really, the whole bowl-eligible thing is a win for Auburn. Even the thought of flying to a bowl game next month as Iron Bowl Week beckons gives the Tigers some juice as they face an uphill battle on Saturday as a heavy underdog. Sure, a loss to Alabama would wipe out those bowl dreams. But when you’re 3-6 and can’t wait for the season to end to fire your head coach, going to a bowl game a few months later isn’t what’s on the horizon.

What’s likely on Auburn’s radar this week is heading to Tuscaloosa and throwing caution to the wind, and that’s a dangerous thing for Bama.

2. The Cadillac factor

Remember above when we talked about Auburn’s interim head coach being a big reason someone like Saban and the entire Bama coaching staff had a big advantage over the Tigers? When we explained Williams’ lack of experience and Saban’s years of experience and also set the tape discrepancy story straight?

All that has been said above is good and true. But as for Williams, he’s a bright, young head coach, a rah-rah, inspirational guy who can relate well to his players because I feel like he was just playing at Auburn a few days ago. It’s actually been nearly 20 years since Williams ended his illustrious Tigers playing career, and now he’s been re-engaged in the rivalry as the guy with the headset on the sideline.

Was he ready for all this? You better believe it. Auburn was 3-5 when Harsin was fired, and Williams rushed to The Plains, back to where he played in Auburn’s backfield, and lifted his alma mater off the canvas with a joyous intensity that raises doubts about whether he should get the job. permanently. The Tigers had won 2 straight in the Iron Bowl and lost in overtime at Mississippi State the week before in Williams’ debut, so he could easily be 3-0.

Even if Williams doesn’t get the Auburn job, which is the likely outcome, his players seem to enjoy playing for him. And wouldn’t they want to treat their interim coach to a stunning Iron Bowl victory just weeks after his return to The Plains? The answer is yes, so Alabama should be wary of that emotional factor for the Tigers entering Saturday.

3. The tank and the Jarquez factor

We mentioned above that while Auburn features Bigsby and Hunter in a dynamic backfield, they could likely be negated because the Tigers’ running game is so anemic. And it still applies here. But what if Auburn’s offensive line is having its best day of the season and Alabama’s talented front 7 is struggling to adjust and the Tide can’t get off the field because the Tigers are consistently 3rd and coming up short?

That scenario would seem a bit extreme, we admit, but something like that can happen. It is a competitive game after all. It is the Iron Bowl after all. Emotions bubble to the surface and sometimes strange things happen when the game starts, even though Alabama is at home, where it has dominated all season.

Auburn’s only real path to victory is to hold the ball for 38 or so minutes, with Bigsby and Hunter frustrating the hell out of the Tide defense, Ashford doing nothing to disrupt their flow, and the Tigers defense not being exploited again. a big enemy because there wasn’t that much on the field.

Will this all happen? Very doubtful.

Could all this have happened? Yes absolutely.

In the Iron Bowl, as last year’s 4 overtime fiasco in Auburn showed, anything is possible.

And in just 3 days we will find out what the latest chapter of this great rivalry has in store for us.

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