Auburn vs. Alabama: Can Gene Chizik Avoid Embarrassment in Iron Bowl?

Jonathan IrwinContributor IINovember 20, 2012

Nov 17, 2012; Auburn, AL, USA: Auburn Tigers head coach Gene Chizik leaves the field after the Tigers beat the Alabama A&M Bulldogs 51-7 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: John Reed-US PRESSWIRE

With Auburn vs. Alabama coming up this weekend—and his job on the line—Gene Chizik could certainly use a win. While that will certainly be a challenge, at the least Chizik needs to avoid embarrassing his team once more.

Can Auburn beat Alabama? After the past two weeks of college football, never say never—far fetched as it may seem.

Coming a little bit closer to reality, can Auburn at least avoid being embarrassed? That is much more of a probability.


The Matchup

On paper, these teams don't match up well.

Auburn's run defense has been horrible all season, giving up 191.3 yards per game on the ground. Not good when you're facing a team that averages over 200 yards rushing per game.

Offensively, Auburn's struggled to score points—barely averaging 20 a game. Their 114th-ranked offense is squaring off with the No. 2 defense in the nation. Once again, not good.

Oh, then there's the fact that this is a home game for Alabama.

Gene Chizik certainly has his work cut out for him. But people were saying the same thing when Auburn squared off with LSU in Week 4. LSU barely survived that game 12-10.

Even a tight loss like that would be preferable to Chizik than, say, the 0-38 shellacking suffered at the hands of Georgia in Week 11.

On any given Saturday, you never know what will happen, especially in the SEC.


How Does Auburn Compete?

In that game against LSU, Auburn's defense gave up plenty on the ground (182 yards), but they limited the effect of Zach Mettenberger. They made LSU's offense one-dimensional.

Auburn achieved this by playing aggressive against the pass. Mettenberger only completed 56 percent of his passes in that game, with a pair of sacks and fumbles.

That can be done against Alabama.

In the Tide's close win over LSU, they rushed for 166 yards but were limited to 165 through the air. Texas A&M pulled the opposite in their win over 'Bama, giving the Tide 309 yards passing but only 124 rushing.

The Aggies also won that game with turnovers, managing two interceptions against A.J. McCarron.

While that will be a hard task for Auburn—they only have two interceptions on the season—it's not impossible. They had two forced fumbles in their game against LSU, and recovered both.


While Chizik has a high mountain to climb, he has the tools to make this a close game.

Either way, it's college football and the Iron Bowl. Anything can happen. No matter what, I'm sure we're all in for an exciting matchup.