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 Auburn must make to win:
Defend the Run
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. Auburn needs to make sure they continue stuffing him at the line.
Alabama can't rely just on A.J. McCarron's arm to get them the points they need for getting the big road win. So, they will probably try to run some more plays that get Richardson a big hole or out in the flat to make some moves. The Tigers need to lock it down and keep him off-balance.
Take the Momentum Back
'Bama has done a decent job of keeping the momentum so far. Auburn really let them steal it with the perfect flea flicker on the first scoring drive, but got some of it back with the sack and fumble that resulted in their first touchdown.
There's nothing bigger in a rivalry game, especially as the home team, than to keep the home fans in it. That crowd is going to be going crazy for Auburn for the most part, and putting points on the board and closing the gap will keep them loud and passionate. That will turn them momentum to the Tigers.
Be Creative on Offense
We've seen Auburn try a few gadget plays. 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 want to increasingly try more and more creative plays on offense to see if it breaks something open.
Auburn needs to continue to be creative on offense. Alabama's defense is too good to just rely on regular play calls. If Auburn scores a touchdown on a big play that cuts the lead in half, you're looking at a huge momentum swing.
Defending the Gadget Plays
Speaking of the flea flicker...that kind of stuff is working for Alabama. On both of their first two touchdown drives, they scored on a creative play call that ended with a receiver wide open down field. Clearly, the Tigers' D needs to be on their toes and stop this from happening anymore.
Auburn needs to prove they can stop those plays. Otherwise, the play action and other creative plays are going to continue to burn them. Don't let the Tide continually punching the ball with Richardson fool you; they are simply opening up the field for those longer plays.
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 Tigers 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.