It Is Iron Bowl Week!
Tiger Basketball Kicked Off with a Win over St. Joe
War Eagle, everybody! Saturday afternoon the Auburn Tigers will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Bryant-Denny Stadium Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Auburn has a 5–2 record in SEC-only competition this year with 3 games remaining. Alabama is undefeated at 7–0 and is riding atop the current national polls at number one. Auburn still could win the SEC Western division, but it would require Auburn to beat Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi State as well as a second Alabama loss to either Arkansas or LSU. It’s not a very likely outcome.
In Fort Myers Florida last night, the Auburn men’s basketball team got its season off with a win, defeating St. Joe in overtime, 96–91. This Auburn fan definitely needed a scorecard to keep up with all the new faces on the floor. Of last year’s regulars, only Devan Cambridge and Allen Flanigan remain on the team as graduation took a heavy toll. The Tigers looked out of sync at times, as one might expect. Where Auburn won the game was a crushing advantage in rebounds. Auburn looked like the more athletic team, but St. Joe was tenacious and kept clawing away at the lead. At this point, the biggest Auburn weakness appeared to be allowing St. Joe players to dribble in all the way to the basket and take easy shots. That will have to get fixed, soon. The Tigers play Gonzaga this morning at 10:00 AM, and will need a monumental effort in that game.
Auburn opened this week in football as a 3-touchdown underdog, and that line has grown to about 24 points. That is not as much an indictment of the Tigers but a recognition that no one has even played Alabama close since week 3 at Ole Miss. On the COVID front, I have not heard of any Auburn players or coaches expected to miss this week. On the Alabama side, we do know that Alabama head coach Nick Saban apparently does have the virus and will miss the game. We wish him a safe recovery.
After Alabama gave up 48 points to Ole Miss, I was ready to write its defense off as garbage. Opponents since then have found the going much tougher. Georgia managed 24 points. Then Tennessee scored 17 in Knoxville. Mississippi State could not score at all in Tuscaloosa, and Kentucky managed only a field goal. Auburn will have to have a good game on offense. To make matters worse, Auburn could be without 3 starters on offense who were banged up last week.
Auburn’s remaining schedule after Alabama is Texas A&M at Auburn and finishing at Mississippi State. Just a single win in the remaining 3 games would probably guarantee a bowl game with a 5–5 record. There will be some teams in the SEC that go bowling this season, I would think. The SEC has ongoing relationships with the VBRO Citrus, Outback, Taxslayer Gator, Belk, Music City, Liberty, Texas, Independence and Birmingham Bowls. That’s 9 bowl games if you’re counting that could have an SEC team, and the SEC usually gets at least 2 or 3 bids to the New Year’s Six games. Right now if the SEC got 12 teams in, we’re looking at only Vanderbilt, and maybe Mississippi State or South Carolina, being left out. We live in interesting times.
It should be a fine day for football in Tuscaloosa with clear skies and a kickoff temperature around 65 degrees. The sun will set in the 3rd quarter, and the planets and a waxing gibbous moon should be visible in the evening skies. The game will kick off a little after 2:30 PM and will be nationally televised on CBS.
We have a 6-game slate this weekend in the SEC, barring any last-minute COVID cancellations.
At 11:00 AM Central Standard Time, Kentucky visits Florida on ESPN. The Wildcats used to have a passable defense, but they have become increasingly porous as the season progresses. Florida will score at will in this game.
Also in early action, Vanderbilt will visit Missouri on the SEC Network. Vanderbilt was the league’s doormat early on this year but has been showing signs of life lately behind young quarterback Ken Seals. I would pick the home team in this one, but we might well be treated to a very good game.
The Iron Bowl kicks off at 2:30 on CBS. We’re hoping for a huge Auburn upset, but the odds do not favor the Tigers.
Oddly, the television magnates decided to put the Egg Bowl at 3:00 PM, opposite the Iron Bowl, on the SEC Network. This has been one of the more entertaining, bitter games in recent years, and why the game was moved away from Thanksgiving Day, no one knows. No one has been able to stop Ole Miss this year, but they’ve had trouble stopping folks as well. I would not be surprised to see 100 or more points scored in this game.
LSU visits Texas A&M at 6:00 PM on ESPN. Texas A&M needs this game to keep faint title hopes alive while LSU is just hoping to finish the season with a winning record. I would expect a big Aggie win but have been surprised in this series before.
The nightcap is Georgia at South Carolina at 6:30 PM. Georgia started out high in the national rankings before struggling at midseason. It looks to try to win out and secure a New Year’s Six bowl bid. Meanwhile, South Carolina is playing out the string with interim coach Mike Bobo.
The Auburn–Alabama game will be nationally televised on CBS this week. We will have our usual Trackemtigers.com Open Thread up and running. I’ll offer comments on various SEC games and will have the play-by-play. War Eagle, and let’s beat Bama!