There has been a storm brewing in Alabama this week. Auburn’s cross-state rivals and their media skills have declared that Alabama is still the favorite to win the SEC despite being whipped beyond speculation by a decent South Carolina team.
It is funny that the phrase “without Cam Newton” has become so popular that a simple Google search results in over 10,000,000 hits. It is likely the most common phrase in the state of Alabama and Louisiana this week.
The Auburn defense has been declared dead. That Auburn defense couldn’t stop a cold, not to mention the powerful offenses of LSU and the Tide. It is great for media interest to fan these flames and false hopes as much as possible.
It was said on local radio shows that the Auburn vs. Arkansas game last Saturday was the least watched CBS game of the year. While this could be due to Nebraska vs. Texas and Iowa vs. Michigan being on at the same time, don’t bet on it being a fact.
It would seem the Crimson Caravan is in high gear again; if they can’t win on the field, they will do or say anything to tear down their opponents in the media. It is quite entertaining, and could be sad if the hopes they are fanning are not true.
While it is best for Auburn if Alabama does not lose again before the Iron Bowl, this would seem a very far-fetched notion at this point. It would seem it is once again time to take a look at a few facts and see just how off-the-wall this thought is.
Alabama has Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn left on their schedule. Mississippi State has won every game they have played with the exception of LSU and Auburn and could well be the third-best team in the SEC.
The two undisputed best teams in the SEC play this weekend and one will have to lose, but how do they stack up to a one-loss Alabama team? To compare, it is time to throw out the cupcakes and look at real competition. All of these teams have an in-conference track record at this point.
For obvious reasons Tennessee will be left out of this comparison as there are enough comparisons being made on this game already this week.
Conference Statistical Comparison for Alabama Opponents Weeks 10 to 14
Ranked Teams Left To Play
Conference strength of schedule first half of conference schedule from toughest to lightest:
- Mississippi State
Conference strength of schedule for the remaining half of the conference schedule:
- Mississippi State
Alabama is not even close to LSU or Auburn in margin of victory, yards or points, even though they have played the third-lightest conference schedule out of the four teams. There is no logical reason to assume Alabama will fare as well in the second half of the conference schedule as they did in the first.
It is clear that LSU and Auburn truly are by far the best two teams in the conference over the first half of the schedule. While Alabama might have some hope of catching LSU in the second half of the schedule they have a much tougher schedule than Auburn or Mississippi State. It is quite possible that they could lose all three of these games, and very likely they will lose two of them.
Offensive Comparison in Conference
Auburn Minus Cam Newton
It is quite clear if Cam Newton were to need a rest some game, that Auburn is still pretty competitive without him. It does appear that Cameron Newton puts up about as much offense as the entire Alabama and LSU teams. One can understand why they are trying to talk Newton out of the equation.
Of course, it is a given that any quarterback Auburn put in his place would not accumulate zero yards and his absence would put another 20 to 30 carries on the running backs. It is very likely Auburn still has the best rushing offense in the SEC without Newton, but it is unlikely they will have to find out.
If Auburn should win this week, Auburn fans need to pull for Alabama in two weeks. It is unlikely that Alabama will persevere in Baton Rouge, but much better for Auburn if they do. A two-loss LSU should remain ranked and a three-loss Alabama might not. Auburn needs as many opponents they have played as possible ranked when the season ends.
If Auburn loses then fans still need to pull for Alabama as it is unlikely that LSU will defeat Arkansas and an Auburn win in the Iron Bowl would still send them to Atlanta.
While the Auburn defense has not been stellar, they have certainly been serviceable. Auburn has played by far the toughest conference schedule so far and the Auburn defense is giving up comparable yardage to Alabama in both rushing and pass defense. They are allowing about 12 more points per game, but Auburn is scoring more than 12 more than their offense against tougher competition.
We will all find out how Auburn fares against LSU this weekend, but it does appear the winner of the Tiger Bowl will once again have the cheapest ticket to Atlanta. The chances for Alabama are slim and these are the only three teams with any hope of winning the West at all.