This will be the 84th meeting between Auburn (8-3) and Alabama (10-1). Alabama will be without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa due to a season ending hip injury he suffered against Mississippi State. This gives Auburn a huge advantage against an Alabama offense that has benefited from a great quarterback. They’ll have to rely on backup Mac Jones to keep their playoff hopes alive. Auburn has played great all season. However, quarterback Bo Nix has cost them wins this season. Nix will have to have the game of his life if Auburn wants a shot at pulling off the upset. Alabama is a four-point favorite over Auburn, and the over/under sits at 50. As of writing this, 75 percent of the tickets are on Alabama, and 68 percent are on the under.
Date: Saturday, November 30, 2019
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Alabama
The Crimson Tide are going to have to go up against Auburn without star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. There is going to be uncertainties on how their offense performs with Mac Jones under center. He has thrown for 841 yards and seven touchdowns this season, but none of the defenses he went up against were as good as Auburn’s. The Tide’s offense has been one of the most explosive offenses this season, but with Jones at the helm, this will most likely change. Auburn ranks ninth in rushing success, and 10th in passing success. Also, Alabama most likely loses the explosive ability with Jones this Saturday. Expect a lot of dink and dunk passes to DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, and Jalen Waddle. Nick Saban is going to want to get Jones into a rhythm to see if he can handle the Auburn defense.
This season, Alabama ranks 34th in success rate on defense. This isn’t a typical dominant Saban defense like years. They’re still very good, but have some flaws. Alabama ranks 43rd in rushing success rate, and 111th in stuff rate. Auburn will certainly have an edge in the run game this week, and the Tide solely need to limit that because they’ll be going up against Bo Nix. Alabama should have no problems stopping the pass in this game. They rank 28th in passing success, and ninth in limiting explosive pass plays. Also, they’ll need to force a few turnovers as well. Giving Jones a short field to work might be the difference in this game depending on his performance.
Having to trust freshman Bo Nix to run the offense is one of the harder things to do in college football. Nix has struggled most of the season, but looked slightly better against Georgia. However, their offense still ranks 83rd in passing success, so if they have to rely on Nix to move the ball, then Auburn is going to be in a tough spot. Their rushing offense is where the success will come this week. The Tigers offensive line has the advantage on Alabama’s young front seven. They have the advantage in rushing success, and a major edge in stuff rate where they rank tenth in the country. If Bo Nix can limit turnovers, and make the throws he needs to, Auburn can certainly pull off the upset this week. This starts with being able to run the ball, which they should be able to do.
Auburn has quietly been one of the best defenses in the country this season. Their record might throw off people, but they rank fifth in success rate. They’ve played five of the top-25 offenses in the country, and held them to an average of 16.2 points per game. The Tigers rank ninth in rushing success, 10th in passing success, and 14th in havoc created. However, they have struggled to slowdown explosive pass plays this season, as they rank 91st in that category. However, with Tagovailoa out for Alabama, that shouldn’t be as big of an issue with Jones at quarterback this week. Auburn’s secondary shouldn’t be concerned with Jones trying to push the ball deep on them, which will help bring them for help on the ground, and short passes. If Auburn can pull off the upset, then it starts with their defense.
Betting Pick: Auburn +4
This game should be tight throughout given the quarterback situation. Alabama does need their “style points” to have a chance to get into the playoffs, but that will be tough to do with an unproven Mac Jones at quarterback. If Alabama comes out and dominates Auburn from start to finish, and Jones looks great in the process, then so be it. The Tide’s offense will look a lot different, and the Auburn defense should slow them down quite a bit. Also, Auburn has an edge in their own rushing attack, so they’ll be able to extend drives and move the ball down field. If Bo Nix can just game-manage this Saturday, then Auburn has a chance to pull off the upset. I’ll take Auburn +4 in this one, and if you are also on the Auburn side, don’t be afraid to look at the moneyline this week as well.