Welcome to the Jungle
Gus Malzahn sits just one day away from making Auburn’s New Day into one of its brightest, but it won’t come easy. In what has become the most anticipated matchup in series history, #1 ranked Alabama will travel to The Plains to face the #4 ranked Auburn Tigers for some serious bragging and a spot in the SEC championship game. This year’s game promises to be the ultimate showcase of an immovable object (Alabama’s top-ranked rush defense) meeting an unstoppable force (Auburn’s top-ranked rushing offense).
Auburn looks to be well prepared after having a bye week last weekend and getting a full two weeks of work in prior to facing its most daunting challenge in the Alabama defense. What has to be concerning to Nick Saban and his staff is that Auburn has run the ball very well against nearly everyone and has done so without showing a lot of wrinkles to the offense. For all of the typical (and ignorant) criticism bestowed on Malzahn’s offense, it is especially unfounded this season as the Tigers have exclusively relied on a run now, run later, run some more, and run over your opponents offense that has racked up yard after yard throughout the SEC.
Alabama will enter the game with arguably one of its shakiest undefeated campaigns under Saban. While going 11-0 is no laughing matter, the Crimson Tide have benefited from a soft schedule. It is also worth noting that although they do have the top-ranked rushing defense in the country, the best rushing offense they faced prior to Auburn (2nd in the nation) was Arkansas (26th). That seems like a tidbit the stat gurus at ESPN like to leave out when showering praise onto the Alabama defense. It does not indicate a sure-fire red flag for Alabama, but it is worth noting that they are going to be up against just as much of a challenge in stopping Auburn as Auburn will be in trying to move the football.
Tomorrow is a day that the Auburn Family has been waiting for an entire year. What has surprised me most leading up to this game is the total disregard for how difficult of a road environment Jordan-Hare Stadium poses. I’ve heard countless analysts and fans alike speak of this game as if it is being played on a neutral site or even in Tuscaloosa. That notion could not be farther from the truth. Has Alabama dominated (minus the CAMback) the last 5 years of the Iron Bowl? Sure, but of those 4 victories, 3 came against arguably some of the worst teams in Auburn history. This is not one of those Auburn teams. The Tigers are ready to deliver a serious wake-up call.
Welcome to the real world…
Welcome to the jungle…