The biggest game of the 2013 college football regular season is set to take place on Thanksgiving weekend. Top-ranked Alabama will face the biggest threat to their unblemished record when they visit No.4 Auburn on Saturday.
A lot is on the line in the last contest for each before the SEC Championship Game. The winner of the Iron Bowl will go on to face either Missouri or South Carolina for the conference title.
Alabama has held the top spot in the polls for the entire season. They haven’t lost since Nov. 10 of last year and are looking to win their fourth national title in five years. Auburn has surprised many experts and was not expected to be in this position. They entered the preseason unranked and didn’t receive one vote to be placed in the Top 25. The Tigers were picked to finish fifth in the Western Division.
Since not many saw this run from Auburn coming, they have been terrific against the point spread. They are tied for third in the nation, having covered the betting line in nine of their 11 games. The Crimson Tide, who are 7-4 against the spread, have been listed as a 10.5-point favorite on the road, according to most Las Vegas casinos.
If recent seasons are any indication, the Crimson Tide won’t have much trouble winning by double-digits. In 2012, they shut out their rivals, who went on to finish the seasons at 3-9. Nick Saban has won four of his six matchups with Auburn since becoming the head coach of Alabama. Before joining the Crimson Tide, Auburn had won five straight in the head-to-head battle.
“We’re playing the best team in the country, there’s no doubt,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said during an appearance on CBS’s "College Football Today."
“The good thing is we’re playing good football. We’ve improved each week. We’re playing at home and if it’s a close game, I like our chances.”
Auburn might have the best chance of beating Alabama of anyone on their schedule. The Tigers’ only loss came to then-No.6 LSU and they’ve defeated three ranked teams. They’ll be facing the nation’s best defense, but may have the recipe to have success on offense. Auburn ranks No.2 in the country with over 320 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Nick Marshall is second on the teams with 823 yards on the ground, and junior running back Tre Mason has 1,153.
The Tigers might be able to remain competitive by establishing their running game and controlling the clock. Auburn has played well in close games, defeating the likes of Georgia, Texas A&M and Ole Miss by one score.
The Crimson Tide, though, have passed every test they have faced with flying colors. Only the Aggies have ended the game within one score, and they trailed by 21 points in the fourth quarter. It won’t be easy from Alabama to get the tough road victory, but they’ve shown no signs of letting up.
Prediction: Alabama 33, Auburn 27