Alabama Football: Crimson Tide Fans' Complete Guide to 2014 Iron Bowl

Marc Torrence@marctorrenceAlabama Lead WriterNovember 24, 2014

Alabama Football: Crimson Tide Fans' Complete Guide to 2014 Iron Bowl

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — This game needs no introduction.

    Even without the backdrop of possibly the greatest play in college football history, Alabama-Auburn will always drum up enough excitement to last any college football fan a week.

    Last year’s ending needs no introduction. There will be a little extra sharpness this week, with the Crimson Tide not only in the driver’s seat for an SEC championship and College Football Playoff appearance but looking for revenge in a major way.

    The stakes aren’t as high on the other side, though, where Auburn has three losses and is out of contention for any sort of championship.

    Still, it’s always an exciting affair when these two teams meet. And as we saw last year, anything can happen.

    Here’s everything you need to know:

    Date: Saturday, November 29

    Time: 6:45 p.m. CT

    Place: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

    TV: ESPN

    Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Auburn IMG Sports Network

    Spread: Alabama by 9.5, according to OddsShark.com.

Alabama Keys to Victory

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Stop the Run

    Auburn leads the SEC in rushing yards per game and has done so with an effective running back and quarterback carrying the ball. Cameron Artis-Payne leads the SEC in rushing, and Nick Marshall is second in the SEC in rushing by quarterbacks. The Crimson Tide will face their biggest rushing challenge of the year with Auburn’s bread and butter.

    Hit Big Plays

    A big reason for Auburn’s shortcomings this season has been big plays given up by its defense. The Tigers have struggled with tackling, which has led to several game-changing explosive plays. Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon and the rest of Alabama’s skill-position players have to be licking their chops.

Auburn Keys to Victory

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Stop the Run

    Auburn leads the SEC in rushing yards per game and has done so with an effective running back and quarterback carrying the ball. Cameron Artis-Payne leads the SEC in rushing, and Nick Marshall is second in the SEC in rushing by quarterbacks. The Crimson Tide will face their biggest rushing challenge of the year with Auburn’s bread and butter.

    Hit Big Plays

    A big reason for Auburn’s shortcomings this season has been big plays given up by its defense. The Tigers have struggled with tackling, which has led to several game-changing explosive plays. Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon and the rest of Alabama’s skill-position players have to be licking their chops.

Alabama Players to Watch

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Cyrus Jones

    The 5’10” Alabama cornerback will be covering one of those two aforementioned wide receivers. Jones has talked before about overcoming his size discrepancy with physical play and technique. He held his own against the 6’4” De’Runnya Wilson of Mississippi State. He’ll get a chance to prove himself again against Auburn.

    Adam Griffith

    Everyone will be watching how Alabama’s kicker does a year after he missed the infamous last-second field goal. The Crimson Tide also missed three others in that game. But they’ll also be watching his kick over and over and over again this week as the hype builds for the Iron Bowl. Will Griffith get a chance to redeem himself this year? No pressure.

Auburn Players to Watch

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Nick Marshall

    Auburn’s offense runs through its quarterback, who executes all of Gus Malzahn’s option plays and gets in the calls from the sideline when the Tigers run tempo. Nick Marshall made several big plays in last year’s Iron Bowl. Can he do it again?

    Cassanova McKinzy

    The Tigers’ junior middle linebacker leads the team in tackles (80) and tackles for loss (10). He’ll key a wounded defense that has given up more than 30 points in its last five SEC matchups.

What They're Saying

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Alabama

    Alabama coach Nick Saban on Marshall:

    The guy is really, really a fantastic athlete, and he's very instinctive as a player, especially doing the things that they ask him to do in their offense. He also has improved in my opinion quite a bit as a passer, much more efficient, much more confident. So the combination of his athleticism when he keeps the ball on the options when he's got an opportunity to throw it or run it is a bit of a mismatch a lot with the defensive ends that have to try to contain him. The guy's a really, really good player especially doing the things that they ask him to do.

    Right tackle Austin Shepherd on building energy throughout the week:

    You just have to focus. Coach Cristobal tells us to get warmer and warmer as the week goes on. Today is relax a little, make sure you learn everything, watch the film, and then as it keeps going on by the time you are in the hotel Friday night, really getting ramped up and getting ready to play on Saturday. So just kind of slowly work your way up from Monday to Saturday.

    Auburn

    Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on Alabama’s defense:

    They’re doing really well. They’re stopping the run, which is something they do very well. They generate good turnovers and negative plays, something they’ve done a good job of. They’re really good on third down and the red zone. Just like they were about this time last year, very good defense, very well coached, very good players, very sound, very solid and we’re going to have to play very well.

    Linebacker Kris Frost on trash talk in the Iron Bowl:

    The trash talk never stops regardless of who you're playing. It may be a little bit higher for the Auburn-Alabama game. A lot of these guys, being from the state of Alabama—I'm not from the state of Alabama—so I know there's a lot of experiences between different players that I don't necessarily experience that some of my teammates might.

Prediction

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Alabama 31, Auburn 21

    There will be plenty of fireworks early on in this one. Auburn’s offense will hit a couple of big plays like last year, and Alabama will make it a back-and-forth affair. But in the second half, the Crimson Tide front will settle down on defense and shut the Tigers offense down while Alabama's offense opens up the game.

    Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Auburn quotes were provided by Auburn Lead Writer Justin Ferguson.

    Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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