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AP photo by Vasha Hunt / Alabama quarterback Mac Jones jogs off the field after the Crimson Tide's rout of Western Carolina last Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

NO. 5 ALABAMA (10-1, 6-1 SEC) at NO. 16 AUBURN (8-3, 4-3)

Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019

3:30 p.m. EST at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama

 

VIDEO & RADIO

CBS & 97.3/99.3 FM

 

THE MATCHUP

Auburn can greatly enhance its chance to improve to 10-5 against Alabama in Jordan-Hare Stadium by running the football. The Tigers possess five senior offensive linemen, while Alabama has key defensive linemen such as Raekwon Davis, DJ Dale and Phidarian Mathis coming back from injuries. "They're statistically one of the best in the league," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said of the Crimson Tide defense. "They play a lot of guys up front. They have a lot of young linebackers, but they're very talented. What really stands out to me is their secondary. They're very impressive to watch, and they haven't given up a whole lot of explosive plays." In Auburn's three losses to Florida, LSU and Georgia, the Tigers averaged 112.7 rushing yards a game, including just 84 two weeks ago against Georgia.

 

ONE TO WATCH

Either quarterback would fit here, but Auburn freshman Bo Nix will play his sixth game against a foe with a top-20 ranking. This will be the first big test for Tide redshirt sophomore Mac Jones, who has conquered lowly Arkansas and Western Carolina at home but is about to make his first career road start since Tua Tagovailoa's season-ending hip dislocation. "If you look, he has unbelievable talent all around him," Malzahn said. "We have got a game or two on him, and you can see that he has a good understanding of their offense." Jones was a combined 28-of-34 for 510 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions in his first two starts, and Alabama coach Nick Saban hopes that poise and effectiveness can travel. "High anxiety is not going to help your performance any," Saban said. "You want to stay in the right place and be confident, and that comes with good preparation. I think it's really important that the players around him play well."

 

IN THE END

Alabama enters this Iron Bowl leading the nation in team passing efficiency (202.84), punt-return yards (24.67) and turnover margin (1.55), and it's that turnover margin that should be the difference against Nix and Auburn's inconsistent offense. The Tigers never led Florida and Georgia and never led LSU by more than a field goal, so the early stages could be very revealing.

 

PREDICTION

Alabama 17, Auburn 10

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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