Alabama vs. Auburn: Who Wins the Iron Bowl? Plus More College Football Picks

Tucker SargentContributor IIINovember 23, 2011

Trent Richardson (3) and the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide travel to Auburn for the Iron Bowl Saturday.
Trent Richardson (3) and the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide travel to Auburn for the Iron Bowl Saturday.Butch Dill/Getty Images

For many of us, last week was the craziest week of college football we've ever seen.  A weekend that featured several "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" moments started Thursday night when lowly UAB knocked off Southern Miss at Legion Field.  On Friday, No. 2 Oklahoma State fell in double overtime at Iowa State to set up the annual "Upset Saturday."

No. 4 Oregon fell to USC on a missed field goal as time expired, and Robert Griffin (RG3) led Baylor past No. 5 Oklahoma in the nightcap of upsets.

The upsets mean that the SEC West now has teams at No. 1 (LSU), No. 2 (Alabama) and No. 3 (Arkansas) in the latest BCS standings.

And all this sets up this week's Iron Bowl.  For the fourth straight year, the game has national title implications as the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide visits Auburn in a 2:30 p.m. showdown on CBS, hoping to secure a win and a spot in this year's national championship game in New Orleans.

Here goes Week 13:

College Picks (9-4 last week; 104-28 this season)


No. 3 Arkansas (10-1, 6-1) at No. 1 LSU (11-0, 7-0) 

Fri., Nov. 25, 2011 at 1:30 PM: CBS

Call it another "Game of the Century?"  I don't think that's applicable here, but Arkansas will try to prove that statement wrong the day after we stuff ourselves at grandmother's house in honor of Thanksgiving.  Will LSU have a hangover in Baton Rouge and falter to a much-improved Arkansas team?  It's possible.

The Hogs' junior quarterback Tyler Wilson is considered the best quarterback in the SEC, but he'll face a stingy defense in a hungry Death Valley that will dash the Razorbacks' championship dreams.

LSU's win will earn the Tigers the prize trophy in the rivalry, the Golden Boot, and it will likely clinch a spot in the BCS National Championship game, even with a close loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game:

LSU 34, Arkansas 17.

No. 13 Georgia (9-2, 7-1) at No. 23 Georgia Tech (8-3, 5-3) 

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 11 AM: ESPN

The luster that remained from Georgia Tech's win over Clemson earlier this season was obliterated by the Tigers' 37-13 loss to NC State last week, and now the Yellow Jackets face a Georgia team that is one of the hottest in the nation. 

The Bulldogs are 42-7 against non-SEC opponents since coach Mark Richt's arrival, including a 9-1 mark against Georgia Tech.

The Ramblin' Wreck's option attack should stifle the 'Dawgs throughout Saturday's contest, but Georgia will win a thriller:

Georgia 30, Georgia Tech 24.

Ohio State (6-5, 3-4) at No. 15 Michigan (9-2, 5-2)

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 11 AM: ABC

In the 108th meeting between the Buckeyes and Wolverines, Michigan hosts Ohio State Saturday morning on ABC.  The Wolverines lead the all-time series 57-44-6, but the Buckeyes have racked up wins in nine of the last 10 seasons.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and Co. will consistently penetrate Ohio State's defense and ensure the Buckeyes' first losing conference record since 1999:

Michigan 28, Ohio State 17.

Tennessee (5-6, 1-6) at Kentucky (4-7, 1-6)

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 11:21 AM: SEC NETWORK

After a game that ended on an overtime pick six for Tennessee in Neyland Stadium last Saturday, the Vols travel north to face a group of Wildcats who were within reach of knocking off Georgia.

Kentucky's performance last week wasn't anything like the rest of the rest of the 'Cats season, but Tennessee hasn't done much better.

In this rivalry, though, the Vols have dominated the 'Cats.  They hold a 794-345-53 edge in games played, and they've won 26 straight, including 15 straight on the road:

Tennessee 23, Kentucky 17.

Troy (3-7, 2-4) at Western Kentucky (6-5, 6-1)

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 11:30 AM: CSS 

The Hilltoppers have never beaten Troy, but their chances are good this season as they host the 3-7 Trojans on Saturday.  WKU has turned in an impressive 6-1 Sun Belt Conference record up to this point, which is the program's best to date.

The 'Toppers haven't had a winning season since 2007, and with everything on the line for WKU, I don't see Troy playing spoiler on the road.

Even when Troy was on top and WKU was struggling, it always seemed the Hilltoppers had the Trojans figured out:

Western Kentucky 28, Troy 23.


             **ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY** 

No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1) at No. 24 Auburn (7-4, 4-3)

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 2:30 PM: CBS

The 76th edition of the Iron Bowl doesn't appear to be such a good matchup on paper, but ESPN thought differently.  The network's famous College Gameday show will be on the Plains on Saturday, raising the stakes even higher for this rivalry game.

Undefeated Auburn stormed back from a 24-0 deficit last season in Tuscaloosa to beat the Crimson Tide 28-27 and advance to the SEC and BCS Championship Games, respectively, both of which the Tigers won.  The loss isn't far removed from 'Bama Nation's minds, and those clad in crimson will look for their team to get revenge on Saturday.

On paper, it appears the Tigers have no chance in this game, but this is the Iron Bowl, after all.

"I've played against their defense the last couple of years, and it's the most physical game you're going to play in every year," Alabama senior offensive lineman William Vlachos told's Chase Goodbread.  "Last year, I came off the field just bleeding out of my mouth, my hands were bleeding.  It's just one of those games...that ...I'm not that worried about statistics with this game because it really ain't gonna matter.  Alabama-Auburn, it's a whole different deal."

Auburn sophomore defensive end Corey Lemonier proved why Vlachos' comments were true when he spoke with's Jeffrey Lee:

"I'm not from Alabama, but being here just for one year, I hate them," said Lemonier.  "I really didn't like Alabama during recruiting, and then playing against them and hearing all of the trash talk last year made me hate them even more. Coach Pelton (former Auburn player and current defensive line coach) says he hates Alabama and we should hate them, too, and we do hate them.  Everybody in that D-line room hates them."

Auburn's defense has proved solid against several downhill rushing games over the years, but will it be able to stop Trent Richardson?  Better yet, will Auburn's offense be able to move the ball against the best defense in the country?

Expect a classic battle in a rowdy Jordan-Hare, but Alabama proves why it belongs in the 2011 BCS Championship Game by beating the Tigers for the third time in the last four years:

Alabama 28, Auburn 17.

No. 5 Virginia Tech (10-1, 6-1) at Virginia (8-3, 5-2)

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 2:30 PM: ABC/ESPN2

The ACC Coastal Division Championship game pits two in-state rivals against one another Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, Va., making one wonder why this wasn't chosen as the site of ESPN's College Gameday.

However, the Iron Bowl has developed a national following, especially in recent years, so it's obvious the network is shooting for ratings as it heads to Auburn.

If you missed the finish of the Virginia/FSU game last Saturday, you missed yet another crazy game that experienced some chaos as part of the wacky weekend.  Down 14-13 with seconds remaining, Florida State completed a pass inbounds, and the remaining time ran off the clock.

After a long review showed that the receiver actually didn't catch the pass (therefore, leaving time on the clock), the Seminoles had a shot at winning the game with a field goal.  It missed, setting up Virginian battle for the division.

The Hokies seem to be a safe bet.  They've won seven straight over the Cavaliers, including 11 of the last 12 and 14 of the last 18:

Virginia Tech 24, Virginia 21.

No. 19 Penn State (9-2, 6-1) at No. 16 Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2)

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 2:30 PM: ESPN

Another division title is on the line in Wisconsin as the Badgers host Penn State for the inaugural Big Ten Leaders Division crown. Penn State continued to battle through the controversy that has surrounded the school last week by holding off Ohio State on the road for a 20-14 victory.

The victory pushed the Nittany Lions to 4-0 on the road this season, but that streak will end Saturday:

Wisconsin 35, Penn State 16.

Florida State (7-4, 5-3) at Florida (6-5, 3-5)

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 6 PM: ESPN2

The Florida Gators continued to struggle last week against Furman until late, finishing off the Paladins 54-32 in a mostly lackluster homecoming effort.  Will Muschamp could write off a bunch of his haters with a win over the Seminoles Saturday, but winning won't come easy.

FSU snapped a six-game losing streak to the Gators with a 31-7 win last year in Tallahassee, but Saturday the 'Noles seek their first win in Gainesville since Chris Rix's "Hail Mary" pass to P.K. Sam beat Florida 38-34 in 2003:

Florida State 24, Florida 21.

Ole Miss (2-9, 0-7) at Mississippi State (5-6, 1-6)

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 6 PM: ESPNU

The Bulldogs host the Rebels in the Egg Bowl on Saturday night in Starkville with a bowl berth on the line for Mississsippi State.  Dan Mullen's 'Dawgs have won two straight over Ole Miss; a third straight would be the most Mississippi State has won in a row over its in-state rival since the Bulldogs won four straight between 1939-1942.

Still waiting on that annual Houston Nutt upset....waiting.....waiting....:

Mississippi State 31, Ole Miss 13.

No. 17 Clemson (9-2, 6-2) at No. 12 South Carolina (9-2, 6-2)

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 6:45 PM: ESPN 

This marks the first time since 2000 that both teams have been ranked going into the Palmetto State Showdown, which will take place at USC's Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night.

The last time the two foes met here, Clemson's C.J. Spiller returned the opening kick 88 yards for a touchdown, but the Gamecocks took over the contest after that and whipped the Tigers, 34-17. 

South Carolina is playing better football than Clemson right now, plus the Tigers will be looking forward to the ACC Championship Game next week against the UVA/VT winner:

South Carolina 28, Clemson 24.

No. 22 Notre Dame (8-3) at No. 6 Stanford (10-1, 8-1)

Sat., Nov. 26, 2011 at 7 PM: ABC 

Stanford has won the last two games in this rivalry, marking the first time the school has won two straight over Notre Dame since the series began with the 1925 Rose Bowl.  The teams have played 25 times since the rivalry's inception, with the Irish holding a 17-8 lead in series. 

Notre Dame will be too worried about holding onto the football on Saturday, much less about hanging with the boys from out West:

Stanford 37, Notre Dame 24.

Tucker Sargent is a senior at Troy University in his home state of Alabama. "Tucker's Pick 'Em" started in 2009 on Facebook, with 10 games of interest being picked each week. Opinions are not meant to offend anyone. Visit Tucker's blog or follow him on Twitter     here.


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