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Amid all of the hoopla surrounding Auburn's drive for a national championship amid allegations of impropriety on the part of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and his dad, Cecil, this is the one game that almost everyone (besides Auburn fans) thought that Auburn could actually lose. The Tigers travel to Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2010 edition of the Iron Bowl.
The Tigers, led by Heisman front-runner Cam Newton, will look to complete an undefeated regular season and head into the SEC Championship Game against South Carolina. With the SEC's best offense (42.8 points per game), Auburn would easily go to the BCS National Championship Game if they beat both the Tide and the Gamecocks. Newton, whose dual-threat ability has earned him 1,297 rushing yards, has gotten Auburn past South Carolina, LSU and Arkansas—three extremely good teams.
However, all three of these wins were at home. On the road against Mississippi State, they snuck out of Starkville with a 17-14 victory. At Kentucky, it was another three-point victory, this time 37-34. At Ole Miss, the Tigers won 51-31 against a far weaker Rebels squad. Auburn will now have a play a much stronger Crimson Tide on the road in one of the most hostile environments in college football.
Alabama entered the season with dreams of another BCS National Championship, but it was not to be. With losses to South Carolina and LSU (both on the road), the Tide have been forced out of the national championship as well as the SEC championship. How Alabama would love to spoil the undefeated party for Auburn and make a mess for the BCS committee. This game has been circled on both teams' calendars all season long. Both teams will be ready for a fight.
The Tide will be led by quarterback Greg McElroy, who finds ways to make the offense work. Aided by breakout wide receiver Julio Jones (885 receiving yards) and powerful running backs Trent Richardson and 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram, Alabama continues to hold its own with the SEC's third-best offense (35.3 points per game). In addition, Alabama maintain the SEC's best defense, allowing only 12.8 points per game. This should give Auburn fits as Newton struggles to combat the Tide's tough defense.
This is by far the game of the week. A spot in the BCS National Championship Game is on the line for Auburn, as a loss to Alabama, especially a bad loss, could put their chances in serious jeopardy. I realize that one-loss SEC team would probably get the bid over an undefeated TCU or Boise State, but one never knows in such a strange college football season.
Alabama wants badly to beat Auburn, maintain bragging rights for another year and humiliate Auburn and crush their undefeated season. It'll be defense this year; whoever wins the battle wins the game. And with that, the Tide will roll.
Alabama 21, Auburn 17
*On a side note, by hometown Millbury Woolies defeated their hated rival, the Grafton Indians, 36-7 winning the Thanksgiving game for the 11th straight year. Just a little shoutout for my Sheep.