Alabama vs Auburn: Is Nick Saban Looking to Run Up the Score on the Tigers?

Dr. SECAnalyst IINovember 23, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers is congratulated by head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide after the Tigers 28-27 win at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Growing up in the great state of Alabama there is one thing that I know—the Iron Bowl rarely goes as planned. For Tiger fans, this needs to be one of those games that the lesser of the two teams plays their best game of the season. If not, this could get very ugly.

The passion of this game is unrivaled. There are many great rivalries in college football, but none bring out both the best and the worst of these two fanbases like the Iron Bowl. Make no mistake about it, both teams have their fair share of fair-weather fans. However, once a year every person chooses a side and acts as if they have been cheering for that team all year long.

The Tigers enter the game 7-4 but have not looked overly impressive since October 1st. The Crimson Tide, on the other hand, enters the game 10-1 and ranked No. 2 in the nation.

Can the Tigers play with the Tide? Absolutely. However, if they do not bring their "A" game, the final score of this game could make the 2008 Iron Bowl seem like a nail-biter.

After watching the Alabama-Georgia Southern game this week, two things came to mind. First, Auburn needs to implement a version of the triple option offense this week. This would keep Alabama off the field longer and give them their best shot at an upset.

Secondly, Nick Saban is likely to do everything within his power to run the score up on Auburn if possible.

There are several writers and media personalities who would love for you to believe that Alabama is a lock to head back to the championship game if they beat Auburn. This is simply not the case. Oklahoma State is ranked No. 2 in seven of the 10 computer polls in the BCS. If the human voters decide they do not want an All-SEC game, the Cowboys might only need a third-place finish in the human polls.

Regardless of what some naive writers will tell you, style points matter. Don’t believe me, re-watch the Alabama-Georgia Southern game. There is a reason that A.J. McCarron threw a touchdown pass with 44 seconds remaining in a game that they were leading 38-21.

With Oklahoma State remaining a legit contender for the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings, the Tide will need to be impressive. Moreover, the Cowboys play their final game with Oklahoma on December 3rd, and if Alabama does not make the SEC championship, this will be the Tide’s last shot at impressing the voters.

Then there is the revenge factor and recruiting impact of this game. Saban was embarrassed at Bryant-Denny Stadium last season by the Tigers, and his ego was severally bruised. This was not a game like Louisiana-Monroe in 2007 when he was coaching Shula’s players. These were Saban’s players lying down as Cam Newton and company embarrassed them in front of their home crowd.

Moreover, there will be key recruits at this game and Alabama wants to convince them that Auburn is still the little brother.

If you watched the Tigers game against Georgia two weeks ago, you saw a team that showed little heart. The Tigers are loaded with unseasoned talent but they must show the resolve that they did last season and the first part of this season.

While I understand why Saban would need to run up the score, I hope this game remains close. There is too much bad blood and animosity in this rival and it seems to be at a peak level.

There are Alabama fans who have filled out a petition that would allow them to roll the infamous Toomers Corner. I have an inkling that if this is attempted there will be physical violence like this series has never seen.

A score run up in Jordan-Hare stadium will only make it worse. In the end, it comes down to the Auburn players. Show the heart needed and Auburn will be in this game with a chance to win. However, if they quit like they did against Georgia, the score will be an embarrassment pointed to for years to come.