Alabama vs. Auburn Stats Comparison

Do statistics matter when looking at a college football game? How about for a high octane college football rivalry? Do statistics matter more later in the season than in the early going?



The primary statistic most look at in comparing college football opponents is the record. Alabama is 11-0 this year, including a 7-0 record in Southeastern Conference games, and that, obviously, is perfect, and good enough, in fact, that the Crimson Tide of Coach Nick Saban is ranked first in the nation in every college football poll. But then look at the opponent, Auburn, just a game behind. The Tigers have made a fantastic turn-around from last year's three-win season to go 10-1, including a 6-1 SEC record, under new Coach Gus Malzahn.

Alabama goes to Auburn Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff. CBS will televise the game. The winner goes to the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 7 to play either Missouri (if the Tigers can beat Texas A&M) or South Carolina (if the Aggies beat Mizzou).

I read a statistical comparison of the two teams that gave almost every advantage to Alabama. And then the Auburn writer who compiled the data made his pick: Auburn 28, Alabama 27. That got a big yuk from his audience since it was the score of Auburn's one win over Alabama in the last five years.

That would be like me picking Alabama to win by 31-7 because in 1971 both teams were undefeated and ranked in the top five in the nation...and Bama romped by that 31-7 score.

Eleven games in, with Alabama and Auburn having played six common opponents, the statistics are interesting, perhaps enlightening.

Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn does have a scoreboard, and that's where the most important statistic is recorded. Alabama has scored 39.7 points per game, tied with Missouri and behind Texas A&M. Auburn is just behind in fourth at 39 points per game. In scoring defense, the margin is wider. Bama leads the SEC and the nation, giving up just 9.3 points per game. The Tigers allow 22 points per game.

Most coaches feel if they can run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense, they have a good chance to win. Auburn is the league's best rushing team by a wide margin, averaging 320.3 yards per game. The Tide is third in the league at 211.5 yards per game. On defense, Alabama is among the nation's best and leads the conference, giving up just 91.3 yards per game. The Tigers are eighth in the league in rushing defense, allowing 152.1.

Almost everyone who has analyzed the game has concluded that Auburn is going to have to have success passing to defeat Alabama. Auburn hasn't had to pass this year, and ranks 11th in the league, 179.6 yards per game. Bama is eighth in the conference, 233.3 yards per game. Although the experts conclude the Tide's pass defense is a weakness, Bama is second in the conference in pass defense, allowing 172.6 yards per game. Auburn is next-to-last in the league, giving up 254.8 yards per game. In pass efficiency, Alabama is third, Auburn seventh. Defensive pass efficiency, the Tide is second, the Tigers fifth.

Auburn has the advantage in total offense, second in the league at 499.9 yards per game, while the Tide is eighth at 444.7 yards per game. On the other side, Alabama leads the league in total defense, allowing just 263.9 yards per game. The Tigers are 10th in total defense, giving up 406.9 yards per game.

Among the statistics included as critical is turnover margin. Alabama has 7 fumble recoveries and 10 interceptions for 17 takeaways, 7 fumbles lost and 5 interceptions for 12 turnovers, a plus 5 total. Auburn has 5 fumble recoveries and 12 interceptions, also 17 takeaways, but has lost 8 fumbles and 7 interceptions for 15 turnovers, making the Tigers plus 2.

Also considered important is third down success. On offense, Alabama is third in the SEC with 60 conversions on 122 third down opportunities for 49.2 per cent. Auburn is 62-140 for 44.3 per cent, sixth in the league. On third down defense, Bama is second, allowing 46-146 for 31.5 per cent. The Tigers are sixth, allowing 58-163 for 35.6 per cent.

The third critical statistic from a coach's standpoint is Red Zone efficiency. Auburn ranks first in Red Zone (inside the 20) offense, scoring 42-48 times for 87.5 per cent. The Tigers have 33 touchdowns (28 rushing, 5 passing) and 9-10 field goals. Bama is tited for fifth with 38-44 for 86.4 per cent, 31 touchdowns (18 rushing, 13 passing) and 7-8 field goals. Defensively in the Red Zone, Alabama ranks first. The Tide has allowed only 20 trips into the Red Zone by opponents and has allowed 12 scores for 60 per cent. Bama has given up 9 touchdowns and 3-4 field goals. Auburn is second, allowing 28-38 scores (73.7 per cent) on 18 touchdowns and 10-11 field goals.

Neither team is penalized much. Alabama is third in the league, 51 penalties and an average of 39.1 yards per game, Auburn sixth, 52 penalties, 40.6 yards per game.

The kicking game is strong for both teams. Alabama is second, Auburn third in kickoff returns; Bama first, the Tigers second in punt returns; the Tide first, Auburn third in punting; Alabama seventh, Tigers ninth in kickoff coverage.

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