Thursday, November 22, 2018

Auburn needs a miracle


Only divine intervention will help the Auburn Tigers pull off an upset against an Alabama Crimson Tide that seems destined for Glory.

Either that, or we’re headed for a bizarre 2018 episode of the Twilight Zone, where up is down, good is bad and inside is out.

Last year, Alabama entered the Iron Bowl a little tired and a lot banged up. The game was at Auburn’s Twilight Zone Jordan-Hare Stadium and the Tigers had a team that had already upset Georgia. They were riding high and brimming with confidence, and they just made Bama look bad en route to a 26-14 shocker. It really wasn’t that much of a surprise—Auburn was 9-2 and only needed the win to claim the SEC West. They were at home, healthy, and riding an eight game win streak. Alabama’s defense was banged up and the whole team looked like they’d been rode hard through 11 games and put up wet.

The 2018 Iron Bowl looks radically different. Although Bama is again a little gimpy on defense (and the offensive line), they’re the home team this time and it’s Auburn showing the signs of wear and tear. The Tiger offensive line has been exposed as a glaring weakness just as Alabama’s front seven looks like it tasted bloody red meat for the first time.

The Tide defense is fearsome again, but the offense is absolutely terrifying. Heisman slam dunk Tua Tagavailoa has taken Bama to an entirely different plane of existence. He has a fleet of young, strong, fast and talented receivers. He has a corps of bowling balls for running backs. And he has a field vision and understanding that has been compared to that of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

Even scarier is a reasonably healthy Jalen Hurts, who has already led Bama to the Championship Game twice. Alabama’s two quarterbacks are so athletic that there are plays designed to have a quarterback throw the football to… a quarterback. And no one knows whether it will be Jalen throwing to Tua or Tua throwing to Jalen or either one throwing to Irv Smith Jr running open on the other side of the field.

The Alabama Crimson Tide is a monster. Its only weakness is a shockingly bad special teams unit that can’t buy an extra point. It’s a weakness that Auburn will never get close to exploiting, though. This game should be decided by halftime. Auburn’s only chance at sunshine is to suddenly find an offensive line capable of blocking someone long enough for quarterback Jarrett Stidham to convert a few 3rd and long plays. And that’s gonna take a miracle.

Alabama 45, Auburn 14


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