How Auburn Can Beat Alabama in The Iron Bowl

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    Updated: November 29, 2013
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    Perhaps one of the most anticipated Iron Bowl’s in recent history, #1 Alabama will take on the #4 Auburn Tigers this Saturday. The past 4 winners of this annual rivalry has gone on to win the BCS National Championship, and this year could be the same. They have a combined record of 21-1, and they both look like they have an argument as the two best teams in college football right now. 

    They are two of the top 5 teams in the nation, but Alabama and Auburn have taken very separate paths to get here. Alabama has been #1 all season, and most people expected them to be undefeated at this point. Auburn had no such hype this pre-season, as they failed to make a bowl game last year, and lost all of their conference games. Last season unimportant, so never mind that Alabama is looking at a three-peat or that Auburn hasn’t been in a bowl game since 2011. This is about here and now. This is a rivalry game. This is the Iron Bowl. 

    Alabama has been dominant in college football the past couple of years and it seems everybody ( Aside from Bama fans ), is tired of it. Nick Saban has done a terrific job in Tuscaloosa, making a case for perhaps the best football coach of all time. Saban has been getting it done on the recruiting trail, which is evident by his 3 National Championships and a total record of 37-2 in the past 3 years.

    Alabama’s three championships in the Saban-era have come from their outstanding defense and linemen. This year however, they are led by Heisman candidate quarterback AJ McCarron, and their long list of high-caliber running backs. They won in a shootout against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, then they shut out Ole Miss proving they are capable of winning every type of game. If Alabama gets an early lead and avoid a slow start like they had against LSU and A&M, then they have a very good chance to win this game. 

    Auburn turned into the biggest one hit wonder since Vanilla Ice came out with Ice Ice Baby with their National Championship in 2010. In 2010, the JUCO transfer Cam Newton took the SEC by storm and lead the Tigers to an undefeated season and a BCS National Championship game victory over Oregon. Since then however, Auburn has mustered a 21-15 record, and haven’t beaten Alabama since the amazing finish in the 2010 Iron Bowl. 

    This season, Auburn are led by RB Tre Mason who has 1100+ rushing yards this year, and forces defenses to stack as many as 8 in the box.; providing room for quarterback Nick Marshall to make plays with his arm as well as scramble out with his feet. Opposing defenses have tried repeatedly to stop the duo all year, but the only team to succeed is LSU. Oh and they have this trick play where Marshall passes the ball to defenders, and tricks them into tipping it right in the receivers hand for a game winning touchdown. In other words, they find ways to win. Which is the greatest unmeasured stat teams use to beat opponents. 

    If Alabama does in fact stack the box against Auburn, don’t look for it to work exactly. Here’s what happens when they do stack it:

     

    Here they have 7 in the box but a safety crashing the middle. Alabama has both Linebackers and the safety crash in the middle, leaving the lone safety to deal with the outside run. If you stack the front, you can’t leave either side vulnerable which is what they do here. Giving LSU the right side with a lead blocker for a 13 yard gain. 

    13 yards might not seem very much, but if Auburn can keep up long drives where most of them come on the ground, Auburn will control and win the game. 

     

     

    Here is a similar play against A&M where they have a 4-3 formation with a safety crashing the middle, making them respect the powerful Auburn lineman in case of an inside run. Like the last play, the Linebackers and Safety crash the middle hoping to stop the inside run, where as Nick Marshall tosses it to the running back and has the fullback lead the way for a 20+ gain.

     

    Auburn’s running game has the capability to go the distance every time. Alabama’s Linebackers are going to have to make good reads all night, or Tre Mason is going to light them up. If Auburn wants to come up with the upset, their blocking better be spot on against the Tide.

    On the defensive side for Auburn, they are a force to be reckoned with. In games against quality quarterbacks Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenburger, and Johnny Manziel. They have held them to 7 TD’s and 4 interceptions. Keeping Alabama one-dimensional on offense will give them a huge advantage. 

    Auburn’s defense can read Quarterbacks better than anyone else in the country, and they have the potential to stop them in the passing game, forcing them to run the ball.

     

    Here is a bubble screen from Alabama that turns into a huge momentum-changing touchdown to give them the lead over the Aggies. The defensive backs aren’t playing tight coverage, and Alabama takes advantage of this mistake and turn it into a 51 yard touchdown pass to take the lead. This play may work against an A&M defense that seems generally easy to get a good read on. Just not against the Auburn Tigers.

      

    Here against LSU, the Tigers are facing the same play but their linebacker makes the read and stops the play before it even gets started. The 5-2 scheme here works in favor of Auburn, due to the great play at linebacker.


    If Auburn’s Linebackers are able to read McCarron all night, it’s going to be a rough night for Alabama’s passing game.

    Auburn has a chance to win, their Linebackers and Offensive Lineman will have to step up and prevent Alabama from controlling this game. If the Tide can’t control the line of scrimmage or misses a few assignments, Auburn should come out with a victory. Either way this has the making of a very good Iron Bowl and whatever team comes out on top, will sure enough earned it by executing plays. 

     
     
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