Its Iron Bowl time as the Tigers (8-3) take on the Crimson Tide (10-1) in one of the best rivalry games in the nation.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
A steady day from Bo Nix
Nix doesn’t have to blow the doors off of the Alabama defense. Instead, he just has to be better than he has been against the tougher defenses he has faced this season. The Auburn true freshman quarterback has done well in games against the bad teams, but he has struggled against the tougher defenses on the schedule. He threw for less than a 60% completion rate against both Florida and LSU, while all six of his picks have come against the active defensive fronts of Oregon, Florida and LSU.
Alabama can be thrown on – Joe Burrow and Kellen Mond proved that – and Nix will have to pick his spots to test the back third of the Crimson Tide defense for Auburn to be successful here.
Make Mac Jones win the game
Alabama without Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t yet played a defense like this Auburn unit that has yet to allow more than 24 points in a game this season. Mac Jones did everything he needed to last week against Western Carolina in the blowout 66-3 win to show he can be an effective player, but the Auburn front is a whole lot different to the one he threw for 10-of-12, 275 yards and three touchdowns on last weekend.
Against Tennessee – and then again against Mississippi State – Jones did enough without pushing the ball. There will be a point in this game where he has to call his own number.
Keep it close
Alabama wants to run away and hide in this one. The Crimson Tide needs a beauty pageant level win here to enhance their chances of making it into the College Football Playoff. The best way for Auburn to win this is to keep the game close for as long as possible and let Alabama make mistakes when pushing too hard to increase the score line. Those mistakes will be seen in the forms of missed assignments, penalties, and potentially turnovers, aspects of the game Auburn must capitalize on to send ‘Bama home to Tuscaloosa with a second loss on the season.