2013 Iron Bowl Preview

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By Darrell Puckett

When children are born in the state of Alabama a question arises from friends and family.  Roll Tide or War Eagle?  It’s not like a newborn can answer that, but the question still is burned to their brain from day one.  Many families are split between rooting for Alabama or Auburn, so this becomes a rivalry in itself.  Every year the Tide and Tigers meet in an ending regular season Iron Bowl matchup that usually has huge implications attached to it.  This Iron Bowl is no different.

Alabama is ranked number one in the BCS, and Auburn sits at four.  Vegas odd makers’ view the Crimson Tide at 10-point favorites, but the Tigers have beaten the spread every week but one.  The odds seem to lean towards Alabama, but who cares?  Who actually had Auburn being 10-1 at this point?  Not me or anyone else.

This point presents the thought that it’s impossible to predict an actual outcome of a team’s season.  Trust me, I had the Tigers finishing fourth in a tough SEC West division and saw them around seven to eight wins.  It’s funny when the Iron Bowl comes around and people around here become all experts and will bet their souls on it, but, in reality, who cares?  Not me, so I’m going to throw a few statistics out there supporting both the Tide and Tigers chances of winning.

For Auburn to come out victorious this coming Saturday, there’s two things that must go their way.  First, Nick Marshall has to make high percentage passes down field and be able to efficiently run the read-option.  Marshall has completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 1,530 yards.  He has only attempted 185 passes, while completing 108 of them.  Those numbers look terrible, but there’s a reason why it doesn’t matter.  The elusive rushing ability that Marshall exemplifies presents certain coverage difficulties for Bama.  Marshall has carried the ball 123 times for 823 yards and nine touchdowns.

Secondly, Auburn must secretly use Corey Grant in the offense and special team’s scheme.  What do I mean by “secretly”?  Coach Gus Malzahn must run special formations to get Grant into space and let him accelerate down field.  This sounds difficult, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few wide-receiver kickoff reverses starting off the game.  The ability for Auburn to make Alabama feel uncomfortable is essential and should help determine a victor.

While talking about Alabama, it seems important to mention this old saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”  What else could I possibly say that would help the two-time defending national champions out?  Well, there’s just one thing that has to happen for Bama to be successful, and that’s let AJ McCarron take over. 

McCarron has completed 68.6 percent of his passes for 2,399 yards and 23 touchdowns.  He has attempted 277 passes, while completing 190 of them.  The statistics don’t lie, and McCarron looks to be in the hunt for a Heisman Trophy.   If Alabama allows him to showcase his arm down field and manage the line of scrimmage, then the Tide will be rolling through Jordan-Hare with a victory. 

If either team can efficiently take care of these areas, then this Iron Bowl will be the greatest of all time.  This game could possibly be better than the famous 1982 Bo Jackson over the top. With that said, make sure to tune in Nov. 30 at 2:30 p.m. on CBS for the best game of the season. 

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Contact the writer: dpucket1@aum.edu