Trying to stop the Alabama football offense, Auburn will be forced to pick their poison.
Alabama football fans are consumed by the absence of Nick Saban. The Auburn football team has other issues to worry about. The Crimson Tide has arguably its most explosive offense ever, and it attacks teams in many, hard to defend ways.
The Tigers should have more confidence than the normal three-plus touchdown underdog, Auburn has beaten Alabama football two out of the last three seasons. Not having to see Nick Saban on the opposite sideline of Bryant-Denny should also be a big boost.
There is also the fact Auburn scored 48 points on the Crimson Tide defense last season. Gus didn’t, but he could’ve said “we should have run up 60 on them.” Gus did not say what he said in 2014, but Gus never lacks enthusiasm for his offense.
Against an Alabama football defense, improved from last season, but not Alabama-great, Gus probably believes Bo Nix and his teammates can ring up at least 50, Saturday in Bryant-Denny.
Auburn is averaging a pedestrian 28.57 points-per-game this season. Malzahn has surprisingly not snatched the clipboard away from Chad Morris. Although another loss for Gus in Tuscaloosa and, he’ll probably not only grab the clipboard but hit Morris over the head with it.
Gus and the Auburn Tigers have a bigger problem than scoring. It is slowing the Alabama football offense. Auburn’s scoring defense, away from Jordan-Hare, is 28.3 points-per-game, good enough for No. 5 among SEC teams. The Tigers defense has shown statistical improvement in its last two games. Auburn held LSU to 11 points and Tennessee to 17 points. Neither team has an offense close to being as potent as the Crimson Tide.
Kevin Steele has done a great job at Auburn. Steele has plenty of solid experience and it helps that Malzahn has little interest in defense. Even so, the Tigers were lucky the Crimson Tide did not score more than fifty points on them last season. There is no comparison to Mac Jones now, to Mac in last year’s Iron Bowl.
In addition, Kevin Steele does not have the defensive talent or depth available to him in recent seasons. Steele has a major challenge of taking anything away from Steve Sarkisian’s offense. Sark’s attack is not only balanced in producing yards, it also challenges opposing defenses all over the field.
In recent games, opposing DCs have tried to take away the Tide’s long ball threat. Deeper zones (and no Jaylen Waddle) have been somewhat effective. Sark adjusts with different routes to wideouts, and running backs, and tight end, Jahleel Billingsley against Kentucky. Mixed in with that variety is a powerful rushing attack, led by Najee Harris and the best run-blockers in the SEC.
Load up the box to stop the run and the Crimson Tide will burn defenses deep. Drop both safeties deep to counter the long-ball and the Tide will consistently produce yards on the ground. Kevin Steele can pick his poison. Whatever he chooses, the Alabama football offense will be too much for the Tigers.
The bottom line is Auburn cannot beat Alabama on Saturday. An upset will only occur if the Crimson Tide beats itself.