Auburn Football: 2014 Iron Bowl Game Day Prediction


The Auburn football team will meet Alabama for the 79th time in the 2014 Iron Bowl. It’s the annual slugfest for bragging rights in the state, but as usual, there’s even more on the line.

The primetime matchup features the 8-3 Tigers in an upset bid against the 10-1 and top ranked Crimson Tide. With a win, Alabama will earn the right to represent the SEC West in Atlanta. A victory there all but guarantees a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Of course, the Tide was ranked No. 1 last year also. And we know how that ended.

A year after what is quite possibly the greatest ending to a college football game ever, the Tide has revenge on their minds. And honestly, Auburn isn’t as talented as the team that upset won at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2013.

At quarterback, Nick Marshall is an electric playmaker for the Tigers on the ground and through the air. However, he’s struggled with consistency in the passing game and is coming off his worst rushing performance of his two-year Auburn career.

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On the other hand, Alabama’s Blake Sims has flown under the radar nationally and has solidified the QB position for the Tide. He too is mobile and athletic, but has been a better passer than Marshall.

Sims will rely on two of the best running backs in the SEC in T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry. The pair has combined for more than 1,400 yards so far this season. The Tigers will counter with Cameron Artis-Payne, an unheralded senior despite being the SEC’s leading rusher with 1,405 yards himself.

Alabama has one of the best players in the nation in wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Tigers will counter with Sammie Coates, Quan Bray, and D’haquille Williams, who returns after missing two and a half games with a knee injury. The tight ends are also talented – Alabama’s O.J. Howard and Auburn’s C.J. Uzomah – as are the offensive lines, Auburn center Reese Dismukes and Alabama tackle Cam Robinson, being the best of the bunch.

Simply put, both teams are great on offense, and while Alabama has a great defense, the Tigers can still score against them. It’s the other side of the football that concerns Auburn football fans.

The Tigers have struggled defensively in their last five SEC games and have given up 31 points or more in each.

The Auburn pass rush, which was vital to last season’s success, has been a big part of the problem. The squad lost Dee Ford to graduation and Carl Lawson to a knee injury and hasn’t found a dominant player to replace either at defensive end. DaVonte Lambert emerged as a solid option, but he was lost for the season on the first play of last week’s game against Samford.

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  • Speaking of the Samford game, the Tigers gained some confidence during the 31-7 victory over the FCS Bulldogs. The win snapped a two-game losing streak, and the defensive line played better than they have since the first half of the season. It was a total team effort by the unit, and Elijah Daniel and Montravius Adams stepped up specifically. Both must play well to keep the Alabama rushing attack in check and to put pressure on the quarterback.

    Linebacker Kris Frost has been one of the better pass rushers on the team, and he has played very well in recent weeks. Frost and Casanova McKinzy will be asked to pull double duty in pass coverage and as run stoppers.

    In the secondary, Jonathon Mincy and Jonathan Jones will both be asked to cover Amari Cooper at times, and both are likely to need help over the top from safeties Jermaine Whitehead, Joshua Holsey and hybrid Robenson Therezie among others. And the Tide is more than a one man show in the receiving corps, which makes matters more difficult. It’s a tall task for a secondary that has struggled with consistency.

    To beat Alabama, the Tigers must step up on defense and force a couple of turnovers. They must be solid on special teams, create good field position for the offense and establish the running game to create play-action passing opportunities. Expect head coach and play-caller Gus Malzahn to dial up a trick play or two as well.

    There is little room for error tonight for Auburn. Turnovers and poor defense would be disastrous. If the Tigers play their ‘A’ game, they can win. If not, it might not turn out so well.

    Alabama is a 9.5-point favorite, but the Tigers are good enough to win. It’s just not likely they do.

    Alabama 31, Auburn 24

    Next: 2014 Iron Bowl Preview and Predictions

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