What a difference a year makes. Just one year ago, 87,451 fans watched on, inside of Jordan-Hare Stadium, as Gus Malzahn’s Auburn Tigers won a shootout against Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide in what ended up being the best game of the 2019 college football season. This season, the Tigers will still take on the Tide but, it will be Steve Sarkisian leading Alabama out of the locker room in front of about 20,000 fans inside of Bryant Denny Stadium. With all of the differences and external factors surrounding the 85th and most unique Iron Bowl yet, the greatest rivalry in sports plays on. The number one Alabama Crimson Tide will host the number twenty two Auburn Tigers inside of Bryant Denny Stadium at 3:30ET/2:30CT on the SEC on CBS game of the week for the 85th edition of the Iron Bowl.
This will be the second showdown between Bo Nix and Mac Jones. Mac Jones has taken a huge step forward in his first full season as the leader of the Alabama offense. He has not only thrown for 2427 yards and 18 touchdowns in the first seven games of the season, but has also put his name on the short list to contend for the Heisman trophy. Bo Nix and the Auburn offense some what struggled out of the gate trying to learn and adjust to the new Chad Morris offense. The Tigers have hit their stride on the offensive end in their last three games against Ole Miss, LSU, and Tennessee in which Auburn scored at least 30 points and averaged 451 yards of offense.
The Auburn defense, led by Kevin Steele, allowed a season high 6.27 yards per play and an explosive play percentage of 10.81 last week against the Volunteers, but even with Tennessee’s 464 yards of offense Auburn only allowed 17 points and followed the season theme of “Bend don’t Break.” Auburn certainly followed this theme against Lane Kiffin’s electric Rebel offense. Although Auburn let Ole Miss run the ball for 283 yards the Tigers never allowed the Rebels to throw the deep ball. Auburn held Ole Miss to only 161 yards through the air. The Tigers will look to follow a similar game plan against Alabama’s explosive offense, limiting the air attack even if it means Najee Harris might have a big day. The Crimson Tide defense will look to apply pressure and get Bo Nix out of the pocket during the sophomore’s first trip to Bryant Denny Stadium. Injuries might certainly help Alabama accomplish that goal if both Alec Jackson and Brodarious Hamm are unable to play due to injuries that took each of Auburn’s starting tackles out of the Tennessee game. Tank Bigsby’s potential absence from the Iron Bowl would also give the Alabama defense a huge advantage when it comes to Auburn’s running attack. Bigsby suffered what appeared to be a left hip injury which sidelined him the rest of the Tennessee game. Tank and the two tackles have all been listed as “questionable” for the Iron Bowl.
The 2020 edition of the Iron Bowl would have already been wild enough playing in the middle of a pandemic in front of about 20,000 fans inside of Bryant Denny Stadium but, this past Wednesday it got just a little bit more crazy. The University of Alabama announced that Nick Saban had tested positive for Covid-19 and will quarantine at home. This meaning that Nick Saban will not be on the sidelines or have any contact with the team on Saturday. Nick Saban was able test out of what ended up being a false positive when this happened the week of the Georgia game but, Nick Saban is experiencing symptoms so he will be self isolating. With Nick Saban out of the game and unable to make contact with the team during the game, Steve Sarkisian will assume the head coaching responsibilities as well as continue to call the offensive plays. Auburn is 5-0 in Bryant Denny Stadium when Nick Saban has not been on the sideline for the Crimson Tide and Alabama is 5-1 at home against Auburn when he has been coaching Alabama.
So with all of the storylines headed into the game one would think this looks like it will shape up to be another great matchup between the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide in a top 25 showdown in Bryant Denny Stadium.
Next Up On The Patrick Party:
The Patrick Party Pregame Show will air from 8:00am-9:00am CST on our Youtube Channel as we further break down the Iron Bowl and the rest of the college football matchups on rivalry weekend.