The Auburn Tigers will head into Saturday’s edition of the Iron Bowl as big underdogs. Few expect the Tigers to be able to stop the Crimson Tide, who are likely to head to the BCS Championship Game with a victory.
Despite the low expectations for Auburn’s chances, as we’ve seen this year, nothing is guaranteed in college football. Five of the last eight games in the series have been decided by seven points or less, so expect a close game on Saturday even though Alabama seems to have a decided advantage.
If Auburn is going to upset Alabama, it will need to play its best game of the season. Auburn will need to be nearly perfect on both sides of the ball against perhaps the nation’s best defense and college football’s top running back.
Here are five Auburn players who will need to come through for the Tigers to win their second straight Iron Bowl.
Dyer has been Auburn’s top offensive player this season. He’s going to face his biggest challenge yet against an Alabama defense that makes life very tough for opposing running backs.
Alabama has only allowed five players to run for over 100 yards in a game since Nick Saban took over as head coach. The Crimson Tide held Dyer to just 27 yards in last year’s game.
Auburn’s senior linebacker will be tasked with putting the clamps down on Trent Richardson and the Alabama running game. Freeman has really come on over the last few weeks, tallying 32 tackles over the last four games.
Dismukes has had an impressive true freshman campaign, stepping in as Auburn’s starting center after arriving with high expectations.
He’ll be helping the offensive line as it seeks to open some holes against Alabama’s rugged run defense for Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb.
The Tigers have struggled to get much going in the passing game lately, but they will need to do it against Alabama to keep some of the focus off of Dyer and the running game.
Blake, playing in his last home game for the Tigers, is Auburn’s best deep threat and will need to produce some big plays against the Crimson Tide.
The sophomore has been outstanding in 2011 and is a top candidate for the Ray Guy Award. If this game comes down to a field position battle, the Tigers will need Clark to live up to his excellent performances over the rest of the season.
Clark is second in the nation with 30 punts inside the opposition’s 20-yard line.