Alabama vs. Auburn Game Preview: Everything You Need To Know Before Kickoff
No. 15 Auburn (8-3, 4-3 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC)
When: Saturday, Nov. 29 at 6:45 p.m. CT
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Weather: Mostly sunny with a high of 65 degrees and a low of 50, winds S at 12 mph, 0 percent chance of rain.
TV: ESPN (Play-by-play: Brent Musburger, color analyst: Jesse Palmer, sideline reporter: Maria Taylor)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-play: Eli Gold, color analyst: Phil Savage, sideline reporter: Chris Stewart)
Spread: Alabama (-9-9½), according to Danny Sheridan. The Crimson Tide has now been favored in 66 consecutive games, starting with its 2009 BCS National Championship Game victory over Texas.
Last Meeting: No. 1 Alabama gave up two touchdowns in the final 32 seconds, including a missed field goal attempt returned 100 yards as time expired, to fall 34-28 at No. 4 Auburn last season.
Series History: Alabama holds a 42-35-1 lead in a series that dates back to the 1893 season but is 2-5 in games played in Tuscaloosa since moving its Iron Bowl home games there from Legion Field in Birmingham in 2000. (Counting the 1895 and 1901 Iron Bowls, the Crimson Tide is 2-7 all-time against Auburn in Tuscaloosa.)
The Crimson Tide struggled early in the first half, trailing 7-0 after the first possession and leading only 17-14 early in the second quarter but took control to win handily, 48-14 over Western Carolina of the FCS.
Alabama scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter, following the Catamounts’ second score of the game to lead 38-14 at the half.
By the start of the third quarter, the majority of Alabama starters had been pulled for the day. Backup quarterback Jake Coker took over for Blake Sims beginning with the first series of the second half.
Alabama gained 612 yards of offense, the fourth time this season it has surpassed 600 yards of total offense in a game.
Sims went 17-of-25 passing for 222 yards and two touchdowns along with one interception. Running back Derrick Henry led all rushers with 12 carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns – all in the first half. His second-quarter fumble, however, set up Western Carolina’s second touchdown.
Defensively, the Crimson Tide allowed 213 yards of offense, including negative-8 yards rushing. Alabama ranks fifth in the nation in total defense (first in SEC).
The Tigers also played an FCS opponent as a warmup for the Iron Bowl, beating Samford 31-7 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. It was their first win since dropping back-to-back games against Texas A&M and Georgia in the prior weeks.
Like the Crimson Tide, Auburn started off sluggishly, going scoreless in the first quarter, then falling behind 7-0 midway through the second. At that point, the Tigers reeled off 17 straight points on its next three drives to go into halftime up 17-7.
Nick Marshall completed 11-of-18 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown as well as one interception. Auburn’s big-play receivers, Sammie Coates and Quan Bray, caught passes of 49 and 40 yards, respectively.
Cameron Artis-Payne passed the century mark for the eighth time in 11 games this season with 129 yards and a score on 24 carries.
In the second half, Auburn scored a touchdown in both the third and fourth quarters to put the game out of reach for the visiting Bulldogs, which were coached by former Auburn quarterback and 1971 Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan.
Auburn outgained Samford 386-238 with 200 of its yards on offense coming on the ground. As a team, the Tigers lead the SEC in rushing with 266.2 yards per game.
Keep an eye on:
Amari Cooper, wide receiver: A dropped pass in the end zone in last year’s Iron Bowl was one of many plays the Crimson Tide would have liked to have had back in last year’s loss. Cooper made up for it with a 99-yard touchdown reception on the next drive, but Alabama doesn’t want to make the same mistakes twice, leaving handfuls of points on the field. If Alabama’s best player takes over again, albeit without the mistakes, it’s hard to imagine it will see the same result again.
Adam Griffith, kicker: Granted, it was a 57-yard attempt, a tough kick for any kicker to make, but it was Griffith who missed on the now infamous final play of last season’s stunning Iron Bowl defeat. Still, more times than not against Auburn, a field goal is going to be as critical as a play as any, so Griffith will have to be better. As a team, the Crimson Tide also missed three other field goal tries in last year’s game. Griffith sat out last week’s game to rest an undisclosed nagging injury.
Nick Marshall, quarterback: It was Marshall’s versatility that allowed for Auburn to tie the game at 28-28 with 32 seconds remaining last year, as well as a hand in at least two other touchdowns in the game. The Tigers’ run game goes through Marshall, so it will be up to him to match or better last year’s performance to have success offensively.
Cameron Artis-Payne, running back: The other half of Auburn’s 1-2 punch on offense, Artis-Payne is the SEC’s leading rusher this season with 1,405 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Last year, Heisman finalist Tre Mason ran wild on Alabama’s defense as the starting running back, so don’t surprised if Artis-Payne can do the same in Auburn’s run-oriented attack.
- Tight end Brian Vogler and wide receiver ArDarius Stewart are “very questionable” for Saturday’s game, Saban announced Wednesday. Both players sustained “stretched knee ligaments” in last week’s 48-14 win over Western Carolina.
- Wide receiver Amari Cooper is probable with a bruised left knee injured on Alabama’s first offensive series of the game against Western Carolina. Saban said Cooper could have returned during his postgame press conference but was held out for precautionary reasons.
- Defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson and left tackle Cam Robinson picked up ankle sprains against Western Carolina but also could have returned to the game if needed. Both are expected to play, along with Cooper.
- Running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle), wide receiver DeAndrew White (hamstring) and kicker Adam Griffith (undisclosed) are all expected to return to the starting lineup against Auburn after sitting out all of last week’s game to avoid re-aggravating their injuries.
- Defensive end DaVonte Lambert is out for the season after having surgery on his left knee, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn announced Tuesday.
- Defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker (back) will also miss the Iron Bowl, according to Malzahn this week.
- Excluding players who have been out for the majority of the season already, all other Auburn players are expected to play.