#1 Alabama vs. #13 Auburn — Iron Bowl 2016 Preview

"Action from the 2015 Iron Bowl, where Alabama tailback Derrick Henry breaks for daylight against Auburn." (Credit to Bleacher Report.)
"Alabama freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts in action earlier this season for the 11-0 Crimson Tide." (Credit to Bama Hammer.)
“Alabama freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts in action earlier this season for the 11-0 Crimson Tide.” (Credit to Bama Hammer.)

One of the top rivalries in College Football takes center-stage on Saturday as the #13 Auburn Tigers travel to Bryant-Denny Stadium to face the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. 

This rivalry has been one of the most-exciting over the last couple seasons and this year’s edition should be a dandy.

Auburn (8-3) is coming off a 55-0 thumping of Alabama A&M, while Alabama (11-0) defeated Chattanooga 31-3. Heading into Saturday’s showdown, CBS Sports has Alabama as 17 point favorites against the visiting Tigers.

Nick Saban‘s Crimson Tide have already clinched the SEC West and will face Florida for the SEC Championship on December 3rd. Saban, is 6-3 against Auburn as coach of the mighty Crimson Tide while Alabama holds a 44-35-1 record in the rivalry. Regardless, the Crimson Tide aren’t looking past Saturday’s in-state showdown and will look to use it as even more momentum.

Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has been a nice surprise for Alabama this season throwing for 2,168 yards and 19 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. Damien Harris leads the Tide in rushing with 853 yards, while Hurts has chipped in 803 yards and 11 scores himself.

Wide-receivers ArDarius Stewart (683 yards, seven T.D.’s) and Calvin Ridley (640 yards, seven T.D.’s) both are dangerous threats downfield for Alabama while tight-end O.J. Howard (359 yards, two T.D.’s) provides sure hands.

Defensively, Alabama are one of the nation’s best in yards per game (253), rush yards allowed per game (68.9), and points allowed per game (11.4). Tim Williams (8 sacks) and Johnathan Allen are two key players on the defensive front while linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson are play-makers at the linebacker position. DB Minkah Fitzpatrick leads the team with four interceptions.

Alabama’s 23-game winning streak will be put to the test again, and Lane Kiffin‘s offense will need to play smart football to come out on top. Keeping possession of the ball will be critical while not turning the ball over will also be key.

For Auburn, the key will be being able to control the line of scrimmage and to run the ball successfully. Kamryn Pettway leads the team with 1,106 yards and seven scores while Kerryon Johnson has 823 yards and 11 scores. Quarterback Sean White has done a solid job with the offense totaling 1,644 passing yards with nine T.D. passes. Tony Stevens is the leading receiver with 466 yards and three T.D.’s.

Defensively, Auburn is ranked 18th in the nation in yards per game (335). Defensive-lineman Carl Lawson leads the bunch with nine sacks. DB Joshua Holsey leads the Tigers with three interceptions.

Auburn has always been a tough opponent for the Crimson Tide in the past. From the years of Chris Davis‘ game-winning score from a missed Alabama field goal to the days of Cam Newton excelling at quarterback during Auburn’s National Title run.

At this point of the season, anything can happen. Auburn who is merely playing for pride, would love to spoil their biggest rival’s undefeated run so far. Two more wins for Alabama will clearly make them the favorite heading into the College Football Playoff.

With the amount of talent on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, the Iron Bowl will be a great game for all to enjoy.

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