Position By Position, Tigers Vs. Tide Analysis

Columnist Phillip Marshall breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of each team.

Just two days from now, the question of this year and every year in our state will be settled. Who will win the game of games? Will it be Auburn, which is on the cusp of a second straight Southeastern Conference West Division title? Will it be Alabama, which needs to beat Auburn and Southern Mississippi to qualify for a bowl?

The truth is, of course, no amount of analysis can answer that question. It will be answered before a multitude of spectators at Jordan-Hare Stadium. But, just for fun, here is one man's opinion of how the Tigers, 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the SEC, and Tide, 4-5 and 3-4, match up:

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK: Daniel Cobb and Jason Campbell, Auburn vs. Tyler Watts and Andrew Zow, Alabama.

Cobb, who won the starting job when he came off the bench to lead Auburn to a 23-20 victory over Florida, played his best game last Saturday against Georgia. Campbell, who started the first six games, played two series in the second half and got a field goal for his trouble. The status of Watts, who suffered a groin injury last Saturday against Mississippi State, is uncertain. Andrew Zow was sharp in leading the Tide's comeback win over Mississippi State.

Too close to call.


TAILBACK: Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown and Casinious Moore vs. Santonio Beard and Ahmaad Galloway.

Beard is averaging more than seven yards per carry. Williams has gained 344 yards in his past two games and has more help.

Edge to Auburn.


WIDE RECEIVER:
Deandre Green, Tim Carter and others, Auburn, vs. Freddie Milons, Jason McAdley and others, Alabama. Milons hasn't lived up to the promise shown during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but he is still highly dangerous. Carter has sprinter's speed and Green has power. Auburn has other answers. Among them are the likes of Jeris McIntyre, Silas Daniels and Justin Fetsko.

Edge to Auburn.


TIGHT END: Robert Johnson and Lorenzo Diamond, Auburn, vs. Terry Jones and Theo Sanders, Alabama.

Johnson and Diamond are stars, as is Jones. Sanders has yet to do much that is impressive.

Edge to Auburn.


OFFENSIVE LINE:
Ben Nowland, Mike Pucillo, Hart McGarry, Kendall Simmons, Monreko Crittenden, Auburn, vs. Wesley Britt, Justin Smiley, Alonzo Ephraim, Marico Portis and Evan Mathis, Alabama.

Auburn's offensive line, led by left tackle Kendall Simmons, has been the most consistent part of its team. Alabama starts three redshirt freshmen. That does not bode well for the Crimson Tide.

Big edge to Auburn.


FULLBACK:
Michael Owens and Ronnie Brown, Auburn, vs. Donnie Lowe and Marvin Brown, Alabama. If Brandon Johnson had not been moved to linebacker, Auburn would have the edge.


Edge to Alabama.


DEFENSE


ENDS:
Javor Mills, Alton Moore, James Callier and Reggie Torbor, Auburn, vs. Kindal Moorehead, Naytyn McKay-Loescher, Aries Monroe and Todd Bates, Alabama.

Moorehead and his pass rush could be the difference. He turned the game in Alabama's favor two years ago when he sacked Auburn quarterback Ben Leard for a safety in the fourth quarter.

Edge to Alabama.


TACKLES:
DeMarco McNeil, Spencer Johnson, Dexter Murphy and Marcus White, Auburn, vs. Jarret Johnson, Derek Sanders, Kenny King and Anthony Bryant, Alabama.

McNeil is finally getting healthy. Johnson is a unique combination of power and speed. Alabama's tackles have been more reputation than accomplishment.

Edge to Auburn.


INSIDE LINEBACKERS:
Saleem Rasheed, Darius Gilbert, Cornelius Wortham and Victor Ellis, Alabama, vs. Dontarrious Thomas, Tavarreus Pounds, Mark Brown and Mayo Sowell, Auburn.

Rasheed and Thomas might be the two most talented players on the field. Auburn has more depth and more experience.

Edge to Auburn.


OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS/SAFETIES:
Karlos Dansby, Rashaud Walker, Roshard Gilyard, Donnay Young, Stanford Simmons, Auburn vs. Brooks Daniels, Adam Cox, Charles Jones, Reggie Myles, Waine Bacon, Alabama.

Both Dansby and Walker have had all-star seasons. Alabama has no one to match either one.

Big edge to Auburn.


CORNERBACKS:
Roderick Hood, Carlos Rogers and Junior Rosegreen, Auburn, vs. Hirschel Bolden, Gerald Dixon and Thurman Ward, Alabama.

Alabama's cornerbacks have not intercepted a single pass all season. Enough said.

Edge to Auburn.


PLACEKICKER:
Damon Duval, Auburn, vs. Neal Thomas, Alabama.

Perhaps the two best in the SEC. Duval has kicked three game-winning field goals. Thomas hasn't connected from more than 36 yards.

Edge to Auburn.


PUNTER: Lane Bearden, Alabama, vs. Duval, Auburn

Duval averages 44.1 yards per punt and Bearden 38.6. That speaks for itself.

Edge to Auburn.

Add it all up and Auburn has the edge at 10 positions and Alabama two. One is too close to call. Throw in that Auburn is playing at home, and the Tigers seemed destined for a victory.

A blowout? Not likely in this series and not likely for Auburn, which has not won an SEC game by more than seven points. The guess here, for what it's worth, is Auburn 27, Alabama 23.


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