There’s be an awful lot for Auburn football to be happy about over the last decade. A national championship and a Heisman Trophy winner. Another appearance in a championship game. A consistent place in the conversation on college football’s biggest stages.
And yet, when you live in the shadow of one of the sport’s best dynasties ever – the Nick Saban-era Alabama Crimson Tide – it can get a little bit frustrating.
So when the Tigers show up at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m., CBS), it will be another chance for Auburn to make a major impact on the college football landscape for 2020.
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The sports betting information
On FOXBet.com Sportsbook, the point spread and over/under numbers were taken off the board Wednesday morning due to the news that Saban- Alabama’s 69 year old head coach- would miss the contest after testing positive for COVID-19. The money line did remain and Alabama is a -1600 bet on the money line (a $1,600 bet would pay $100 with a win) while Auburn was +900.
Alabama has a 46-37-1 advantage in the series dating back to the first “Iron Bowl” in 1893. (The two teams didn’t meet from 1907 to 1948). It’s easy to forget, but Auburn won last year’s game 48-45 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Over the last decade, Alabama has a 6-4 advantage. It should be noted that one of the most famous games in the series – the 28-27 Auburn win in Tuscaloosa- was the last time that the Tigers won a road game in the series.
The storylines to watch
There is the obvious one, which is Saban’s absence and the potential impact on the game. Remember that Saban missed practices this season after a false positive test, but did return for the Crimson Tide’s win over Georgia at home. This time, Saban will miss because he is experiencing symptoms. As such, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian – the former head coach at USC and Washington- will be the man in charge.
On the field, Mac Jones has vaulted himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation as the quarterback of the high flying Alabama attack. In seven games, Jones has thrown for 2,426 yards, 18 touchdowns, only three interceptions and an over 75 percent completion ratio. Running back Najee Harris has scored 16 rushing touchdowns while wide receivers DeVonte Smith has 10 touchdown catches.
Auburn stumbled in two road games; a 27-6 loss to Georgia and an unexplainable 30-22 loss at South Carolina. However, they have rallied for three straight wins- at Ole Miss, a home rout of LSU and a 13 point win last week against Tennessee. This is the first of two marquee games in back-to-back weeks with No. 5 Texas A&M due into Jordan-Hare next weekend. If the Tigers are to pull the upset, they need more out of quarterback Bo Nix, who has only thrown for over 300 yards once this season (the 48-11 win over LSU). And Auburn’s defense, which allows 402.1 yards per game, has to find a way to stop the Alabama offense, which is averaging 548.6 yards and 49.4 points a game.
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