Iron Bowl Matchup: AU Run Vs. UA Run Defense

Auburn's high-powered running attack will have Alabama's tough run defense on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.--One of the more intriguing matchups of the 2013 SEC football season will take place on Saturday as Auburn plays host to Alabama with a spot in the league championship game on the line.

The Tigers will come into the contest averaging an SEC-leading 320.3 yards per outing, which is 82.3 more yards per game than second place Missouri.

Alabama is allowing an SEC-low 91.3 rushing yards per game, which is 21.9 yards ahead of second place Missouri.

Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said the matchup of his team's ability to run the football successfully vs. the Tide's ability to prevent the Tigers from doing that is "huge" for Saturday's game, which will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CST at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"I think this game is as physical of a tough man's game as there is ever going to be in this kind of rivalry," Lashlee said. "I don't know any stats, I'm just going to assume that the team that runs the ball probably wins it more times than not--the one that runs it better. It's strength against strength."

Lashlee's instincts are correct. The last team to win the Iron Bowl with fewer rushing yards was Auburn in an 18-17 victory in 1997.

Since 1967 the team with the most rushing yards has a 39-7 record in this series.

Quarterback Nick Marshall has developed into a major running threat for the Tigers.

"They are the best in the country, probably, at stopping it, and right now we're running it pretty well,' Lashlee said. "They know it, and we know they're good at stopping it. We are going to establish it, and at the same time you have got to have balance to establish it.

"When you play guys that are as sound as they are, they are going to be in the right spot and they are great tacklers," he said of an Alabama team that is 11-0 and ranked No. 1 nationally.

"You are going to have to beat them by out-executing them and trying to out-tough them," Lashlee added. "Also, like I said, keep them honest, keep them balanced."

Rhett Lashlee

The Tigers have an extra week to prepare for the regular season finale after being off on Saturday. Alabama played on Saturday, cruising past FCS opponent Chattanooga by a score of 49-0.

"I've got a lot of respect for what they do, but at the same time this time of year teams that are winning aren't going to change who they are," Lashlee said. "They're not going to change who they are, we're not going to change who we are, so everybody's going to add here and there certain things that they think will give them a chance to win so it's obviously huge for us to be establish the run."

Going into Saturday's game the Tigers have had at least one player rush for 100 yards in nine of the games as the Tigers have posted a 10-1 record, including a 6-1 mark in the SEC. In three games two Tigers have reached the 100-yard mark rushing the football.

Tre Mason is leading the Tigers in rushing at 104.8 yards per game and he has 17 rushing touchdowns. The junior running back is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

Quarterback Nick Marshall is averaging 82.3 rushing yards per contest and has scored nine times on the ground while averaging 6.7 yards per carry.

Junior running back Cameron Artis-Payne is averaging 51.6 rushing yards per game at 6.6 yards per carry. He has scored five rushing touchdowns.

Junior Corey Grant is averaging 50.6 rushing yards per game and has scored five TDs on the ground. Grant has an impressive average of 9.9 yards per rush.

Through 11 games the Tigers are averaging an SEC-best 6.4 yards per rush while Alabama's defense has the best average against the run allowing on 3.0 per carry, which sets the stage for an interesting showdown when Auburn has the football.

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