Alabama is back on the road to repeating as national champions, but the first step towards lifting the Coaches’ Trophy is beating archrival Auburn.
The Iron Bowl features two of the most passionate fanbases in college football, and both have a deep-seeded disdain for one another.
The contest has been extremely competitive in the past, but this year’s edition has the potential to turn into a blowout. Alabama is 10-1 and ranked No. 2 in the country, while Auburn has been massively disappointing this season and comes into the game at 3-8.
Here is what Alabama must do to avoid being upset for the second time this season.
Alabama has a massive advantage in skill, talent and experience. Auburn can only win this game if the Crimson Tide beat themselves.
The easiest way for Nick Saban’s team to lose focus and lose this game is by looking ahead to future contests that carry more importance. Alabama is already in the SEC title game against Georgia, and the winner of this game will almost certainly decide which SEC team gets to play for a national championship.
The stakes of the upcoming matchup with the Bulldogs could not be higher, and this will make it all too easy to lose focus of the task at hand against the Tigers.
Nick Saban’s message to his team this week must be to take their season one week at a time.
Be Aggressive Early
The best way to avoid losing focus will be to get out to a fast start and put the game away early.
Nick Saban should draw up an aggressive game plan on both sides of the ball. The defense should bring heavy pressure, and the offense should use play action to open up options down the field.
Big plays early will get the crowd in Tuscaloosa fired up, and the atmosphere of this rivalry will not allow the players to look ahead.
If the Tide come out firing from the first play, they will open up a sizable lead before halftime, and that will allow them to cruise to an easy victory.
Force the Tigers to Throw
The Alabama front seven is as talented as any unit in the country, and the team must stack the box and force Auburn to throw the football.
The Tigers offense as a whole has failed to impress this season, ranking 74th in rushing yards and 115th in passing yards. However, the passing game has been especially disappointing, and if the team is forced to take to the air, at least a few passes will end up in the hands of Alabama defensive backs.
Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace will not be used to a defense as talented and fast as Alabama’s, and putting the ball in his hands is the Crimson Tide’s best option.
If the Tide neutralizes the Auburn running game, this game will be a rout.