It is Iron Bowl time once again and the Auburn Tigers (5-2) will be looking to once against upset the Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0) and potentially spoil their CFP hopes for the second consecutive season. Here are the three keys to an Auburn win.
Capitalize on mistakes
Auburn doesn’t win the Iron Bowl in 2019 by a score of 48-45 without a couple of massive plays off of Alabama mistakes. Mac Jones – starting for the injured Tua Tagovailoa – threw a pair of pick-sixes, the second which was to Zakoby McClain being a 100-yard game-changer with the Tide looking to go up eight points in the third quarter and basically being on the Auburn goal line. Auburn leads the SEC in turnover margin and is 5-0 in games where they are eight tied or up in the turnover battle and 0-2 when on the reverse end of it. Auburn needs its defense to step up and make momentum turning plays against a ‘Bama offense that has been incredible in 2020 so far.
Bo Nix needs to break out
Nix is still a weird one. He was entirely pedestrian through the air in the meeting last year – 15-of-30 for 173 yards and a touchdown – but he didn’t make costly mistakes. In 2020 he isn’t lighting it up like Jones or Kyle Trask, but he has improved from a sub-50% completion rate in three of his first four this year to hitting over 70% in his last three outings. Those games were against some of the lower-tier pass defenses in the SEC, but if there has been a weakness with the Alabama side this year it has been in the secondary. Nix feels like he is about to break out and have a huge game and this would be the best time to make that happen.
Beware the offensive balance
Alabama has been destroying teams without breaking too much of a sweat because every part of the offense has been ruthlessly efficient. The team has just seven turnovers on the season and if Jones isn’t destroying a team through the air – which he usually is – then he can turn and hand the ball off to a Heisman quality back in Najee Harris. Auburn needs to find a way to take one of these phases out of the game, either pressuring Jones with the defensive front or stuffing the box to stop Harris being the dynamic playmaker he has become. If both the run and the pass are working for Alabama whenever they choose then it is going to be a long Iron Bowl for the road team.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 2:30 PM CT (3:30 PM ET). You can watch this Auburn football game on the CBS Network.