Perfection is on the line when Alabama and Auburn hit the field in Week 14, as the Tigers will attempt to dethrone the repeat national champs at home in the 2013 Iron Bowl.
Which team will win?
Alabama easily cruised past Chattanooga on Saturday, 49-0, at home to improve to 11-0 on the season. The Crimson Tide are the No. 1-ranked team in the nation (to nobody's surprise), and Florida State is a distant second place in the BCS standings.
Auburn has been nearly as impressive this season, however, posting a record of 10-1. The Tigers' only loss of the season came back in the first half to LSU.
Since that time, Auburn has taken down Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Georgia, and a victory over Alabama would give the Tigers the overall lead in the SEC West.
Needless to say, this upcoming contest is kind of a big deal. Adding to the hype, ESPN's College GameDay will be posting up in Auburn for the festivities, as noted by Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News:
It is official: Gameday will be at Auburn next week for the Alabama-Auburn game. #NoSurprise— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) November 23, 2013
Both teams need to show up sharp to this game. Though Alabama easily won last year's Iron Bowl, 49-0, and the one before that, 42-14, this Auburn team is much more of a threat to win the game.
Here's what both teams must do in order to secure the win.
Alabama Must Attack the Corners
Auburn's defense is vulnerable to pass-happy aerial assaults that attack the perimeter.
For the season, the Tigers rank No. 101 in the nation against the pass, allowing 254.8 yards per game, and teams have completed 11 touchdowns against Auburn this year.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is having a fantastic year.
He's thrown for 21 touchdowns, throwing just five interceptions, and he has done a phenomenal job spreading the ball around to his receivers. In particular, Christion Jones, Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Kevin Norwood have been effective targets.
If Alabama can take advantage of Auburn's porous secondary, then the Tigers could be subjected to another blowout.
Auburn Must Control the Clock and Pound the Rock
Auburn comes into the game with the nation's No. 3-ranked rushing offense, averaging 320.3 yards per game—an astonishing number, considering the level of competition the Tigers have faced this year.
However, if any team is equipped to shut down this potent offensive attack, it's Alabama. The Crimson Tide are tied with Stanford for the nation's No. 3 run defense, allowing just 91.1 yards per game. If 'Bama can cut Auburn's per-game total in half on Saturday, then the Crimson Tide will have done a fantastic job.
Head coach Gus Malzahn likes his team's chances if the Tigers can keep the score close, as noted by Auburn Gold Mine:
Auburn’s Gus Malzahn on Alabama: “We’re playing the best team in the country. We’re playing good football. If it’s close, I like our chances— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) November 23, 2013
Alabama is known as a defensive powerhouse, but the Crimson Tide feature a potent offense capable of putting up huge points totals.
As such, the biggest key to the game for Auburn is keeping McCarron and his offensive teammates on the sideline for as much of the contest as possible.
Auburn's potent rushing attack has served it well so far this year, and the Tigers will need to effectively run the ball once more this upcoming Saturday to upset 'Bama. Tre Mason and Nick Marshall must take care of the football and pound out tough yardage, and a few monster runs wouldn't hurt either.
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