Auburn-Alabama: A Closer Look

Taking a look inside the Iron Bowl game between the Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide.

When Alabama Has The Ball: The key for Auburn will be slowing the Alabama running game behind a physical offensive line. The Crimson Tide averages 198.5 yards per game on the ground with Glen Coffee accounting for 99.2 yards of that. He averages 6.1 yards per carry while number two rusher Mark Ingram averages 5.5 yards per rush and has 617 yards for the season.

When Auburn Has The Ball: It will be much of the same for the Tigers. Kodi Burns has to make plays against an Alabama defense that has given up a lot more yards through the air than on the ground. Leading the league in rushing defense, allowing just 75.1 yards per game and 2.8 per carry, Alabama is sixth in passing defense giving up 180.5 per contest. The key has been takeaways for the Crimson Tide. In 11 games they have 15 interceptions with four going back for touchdowns.

By The Numbers: The term "hidden yards" is one that can be used in a variety of areas in the game of football. This season Alabama has 15 interceptions for 305 return yards. That's an average of almost 30 yards per game that the Crimson Tide has gained in field position each contst because of their defense.

Alabama Player To Watch: Safety Rashad Johnson has been a ballhawk for the Crimson Tide in 2008. The senior has 68 tackles, leads the SEC with 15 passes defended, is second in the league with five interceptions and has returned two for touchdowns. If Johnson is a quiet man on Saturday, Auburn's chances for victory increase dramatically.

Auburn Player To Watch: Playing against massive Terrence Cody, Auburn senior center Jason Bosley will give up almost 100 pounds. That's a tough task with the Tigers needing to be able to run the ball to loosen the Alabama defense. If Bosley can't get any movement on Cody then the Tigers can't run in the middle, likely making for a long day for the offense. It's not what Cody does (just 17 tackles and five solo tackles this season), it's what he doesn't do that makes him important to Alabama's defense.

Analysis: This is a game that has all the makings of one to remember. Auburn has won six consecutive games against Alabama, but the Crimson Tide is ranked number one in the country and is a two touchdown favorite to end that streak. For that to become a reality all Alabama needs to do is continue running the football and creating opportunities on defense and in the kicking game. On the other side the Auburn Tigers haven't come close to playing a complete game all season long and can still look back at five games where finishing could have meant the difference between winning and losing.

Having two weeks off has been a blessing for this Auburn team as players such as Sen'Derrick Marks, Antonio Coleman, Tez Doolittle and Jerraud Powers are as healthy as they've been since early in the season. That should have a huge impact in Auburn's ability to stop the run. Auburn's first three opponents ran for a total of 159 yards. Since that time the Tigers have only held UT-Martin under the century mark. If this defense is anywhere close to the one that showed up the first quarter of the 2008 season then Auburn could have a chance to pull off the upset of the year in the SEC.

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