No. 8 Alabama (10-1, 7-0 SEC) will head into Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday looking for a fourth straight win over Auburn (6-5, 3-4 SEC) in the 88th Iron Bowl. If the Crimson Tide can come away with the win, it would be the first time Alabama has sent off a senior class undefeated against their in-state rivals since winning nine straight from 1973-81.
Alabama also holds a 49-37-1 record in Iron Bowl history, looking for their 50th win in the series on Saturday.
Here are four keys to an Alabama victory.
Crazy things happen inside Jordan-Hare Stadium when these rivals square up. Auburn is one of the toughest places to play, and the crowd will be ready to make it tough for Alabama. Starting fast will be key for multiple reasons.
Striking early and often is the best way to eliminate the crowd. Another reason to start fast is because this Auburn team is not built to come from behind. The Tigers are a run-heavy team that struggles to pass the ball, so building an early lead would force Auburn out of their comfort zone.
The quickest way to lose to an inferior opponent is by losing the turnover battle. Since the Texas game, Jalen Milroe has done a great job protecting the football and making good decisions. Milroe threw two interceptions in the Texas game, but in the following eight games, he accumulated a 14-4 TD/INT ratio. Avoiding turning over the ball will be key for Alabama to take care of business and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Give Milroe Time
While Jalen Milroe's legs have provided a spark in the Alabama offense as of late, his biggest weapon is his deep ball accuracy. For Milroe to be able to hit deep, explosive passes, the Crimson Tide offensive line will need to give him enough time for the play to develop. The Alabama offensive line has improved greatly as the season has progressed, allowing just one sack over the past two games. Alabama will need to carry this momentum over to Saturday against Auburn.
Stop the Run
Auburn is not a great passing team, so to get them to do what they don't do well, Alabama has to stop the rushing attack. This will not be easy as Auburn is the third-best rushing team in the SEC, led by the sixth-leading rusher in the league, Jarquez Hunter. The Crimson Tide rank fifth in the league in stopping the run, but they have had great success against top-ranked rushers in the league.
Against the third, fourth and fifth-best rushers in the SEC, Alabama held the three running backs to just a combined 104 rushing yards. The return of starting middle linebacker Deontae Lawson would be huge for the Crimson Tide rushing defense. Lawson has not been ruled in or out of the Iron Bowl, but according to Saban, he has been trending towards being able to play on Saturday.
Alabama will finish their regular season in the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT. The game will air on CBS.
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