The 2011 Iron Bowl. The defending champion Auburn Tigers take on the BCS title-hopeful Alabama Crimson Tide. Anyone who watches college football knows the ferocity of this rivalry. Today's game is going to be a great one.
The second-ranked Tide has marched into Jordan-Hare Stadium to try to nearly guarantee themselves a shot at a rematch with LSU and a national title berth. Auburn won't lay down easy though; this rivalry game always has second-half fireworks.
With this being the fourth straight year with National Championship implications on the line, both teams are going to come out pumped for this third quarter.
Here are five big halftime adjustments Alabama must make to win:
The Crimson Tide have Trent Richardson in their backfield. They also haven't broken 100 yards rushing in either of the last two Iron Bowls. He's had a rough start to this game too. Richardson was hardly a factor in the LSU game, and not putting up big stats in these huge games might cost him the Heisman.
More importantly, though, Alabama really needs to get Richardson rolling. They can't rely just on A.J. McCarron's arm to get them the points they need for getting the big road win. They need to run some plays that get Richardson a big hole or out in the flat to make some moves.
Take the Momentum
'Bama has done a decent job of this so far. They really stole it with the perfect flea flicker on the first scoring drive, and had it sealed until the sack and fumble that resulted in Auburn's touchdown. They need to continue to pressure that defense and find a way to keep the momentum.
There's nothing bigger in a rivalry game, especially as the visiting team, than to get the home fans out of it. That crowd is going to be going crazy for Auburn, and putting points on the board and widening the gap will take the wind out of their sails and keep the momentum with the Tide.
Be Creative on Offense
Speaking of the flea flicker...that kind of stuff is working. On both of Alabama's first two touchdown drives, they scored on a creative play call that ended with a receiver wide open down field. Clearly, the Tigers' D is prone to being easily confused.
So, Alabama needs to continue to be creative on offense until Auburn proves they can stop it. This goes back to giving Richardson the ball. The more they do that, the more it opens up the field for creative passing plays like the ones we've already seen end up as six points.
Defending the Gadget Plays
We've also seen Auburn try a few gadget plays of their own. They tried to run a reverse earlier that ended with their receiver tripping and falling with the ball in the backfield for a loss. As the lead continues to hover around two touchdowns, Auburn might increasingly try more and more creative plays on offense in desperation.
The Crimson Tide defense needs to be ready for anything thrown their way. If they allow Auburn to score a touchdown on a big play that cuts the lead in half, you're looking at not only a huge momentum swing, but allowing the Auburn fans reason to drown out your play calls for the rest of the game.
We've seen both teams make a couple costly mistakes. Whether it's a shanked punt or a fumble deep in their own territory, neither team has been perfect. But with a game that has so much on the line and has such a rich, tough history, this game is going to be chippy.
The Tide need to make sure that they are not the team that makes the next costly mistake. Don't make a late hit, don't fall asleep in kick coverage, etc. They've played smart football all season long—today is not the day to forget the basics.
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