No. 3 Alabama will head down to the Plains to take on hated in-state rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Saturday afternoon in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week. The Crimson Tide are coming off of a tight victory over Arkansas in Bryant-Denny Stadium, while the Tigers suffered their third straight loss last weekend when they fell to South Carolina on the road.
The Crimson Tide need to win in order to stay in the race for the College Football Playoff. They’ve already clinched the SEC West and a date with Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, but can’t afford a second loss based on the way the college football landscape has developed.
What will happen in the Iron Bowl? Let’s break down the game and make picks straight up and against the spread.
LIVE updates: Follow along with the Iron Bowl action between Alabama and Auburn in our CBS Sports live blog.
Alabama vs. Auburn: Need to know
Young’s shining moment: Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was phenomenal against Arkansas when he put up 559 yards passing — second-most in a single game in SEC history. He’ll square off against an Auburn pass defense that gave up 10.5 yards per attempt to South Carolina last week, 415 passing yards to Mississippi State the week before and is the second-worst efficiency unit in the country (141.93). Young has a chance not only to lead his team to its first win at Jordan-Hare Stadium since 2015, but do so while boosting his Heisman Trophy resume.
There’s still work to be done: Even if Young lights up Auburn’s secondary, it still can be a close game due to Alabama’s season-long struggles along the offensive line. That has prevented the Crimson Tide from mustering up anything close to the rushing attacks of years past, and it’s a massive concern heading into the stretch run. Keep an eye on Brian Robinson Jr. If Alabama opens up holes on a consistent basis for its No. 1 running back, it could signal that it’s finally — after 12 games — starting to come together.
It’s on Finley: Auburn quarterback T.J. Finley isn’t as polished as Arkansas’ KJ Jefferson, but they are similar in terms of body type and arm strength. Because of that, expect Tigers coach Bryan Harsin to look closely at what Jefferson did well last week to keep his team in the game. The one problem is that Auburn doesn’t have a wide receiver comparable to Treylon Burks, but that can be fixed if coordinator Mike Bobo mixes in his multiple tight ends and talented running backs into the game plan.
How to watch Alabama vs. Auburn live
Alabama vs. Auburn prediction, picks
Featured Game | Auburn Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
I’ll take the points since a three-touchdown spread screams “backdoor cover.” It’s impossible to trust the Crimson Tide offensive line, so I expect Auburn to force multiple empty possessions, which will allow Finley to keep his team in the game for at least three quarters. Finley will ultimately make a mistake or two that swings the game in the favor of the crimson and white, but not by three scores. Prediction: Auburn (+19.5)
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