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Auburn Iron Bowl game preview

first_imgFOUR DOWN TERRITORY 1. Duke returns: D’haquille Williams is back for Auburn and so too maybe the Tigers passing game. Auburn could not effectively move the ball in the air without Williams, who will be a very tough matchup for the Crimson Tide secondary. Nick Marshall has his favorite target back, it’s up to him to deliver the ball. 2. Containing Cooper: Auburn’s defense has been woeful against the pass and faces its toughest challenge of the season in Amari Cooper. It’s almost a given that Cooper will have over 100 yards receiving against the Tigers, it’s just a matter if they can keep him from single-handedly taking over the game. 3. Spoiler & drive for 10: Auburn can play the role of spoiler and possibly keep Alabama from winning the SEC West, depending on what happens in the Egg Bow and the College Football Playoff. A win would also likely send the Tigers up far enough in the CFP rankings to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl and keep hopes alive for back-to-back 10-win seasons, which has only happened once in program history. 4. Hitting the edge: Cameron Artis-Payne has been dominant between the tackles, but Alabama’s defense has allowed just two rushing touchdowns this season. Marshall will need to keep the Crimson Tide linebackers moving side to side with effective runs outside the tackles in order to open lanes for CAP to be effective. KEY MATCHUP Auburn OL vs. Alabama DL Alabama’s front seven has been effective against the run but has allowed 100-yard rushing games in its last three SEC games. Auburn will run, a lot, and needs the line to open up lanes for Artis-Payne and Marshall, while helping protect at the second level. The Tigers also have to be able to protect Marshall without taking penalties, an issue that’s plagued the line in recent weeks. PLAYER OF THE WEEK Auburn offensive lineman Avery Young (56) lifts up Auburn wide receiver D’haquille Williams after Williams scores a touchdown against Louisiana Tech.Auburn offensive lineman Avery Young (56) lifts up Auburn wide receiver D’haquille Williams after Williams scores a touchdown against Louisiana Tech. D’haquille Williams Wide receiver, Jr., 6-2, 216He might not be at 100 percent, but nevertheless, Duke is back. Auburn won’t be one-dimensional with Williams on the field. He’s a go-to receiver in critical spots and the best option on third-and-medium. Even if Auburn can run effectively, it will almost certainly need a touchdown catch, likely from Williams, to win tonight. BY THE NUMBERS 3: Auburn has rushed for 250 yards and passed for 250 yards in three games this season, all against SEC West opponents5: This is the fifth road game against a ranked team for the Tigers this season7-2: Auburn’s all-time record in Tuscaloosa86: Rushing yards needed by Nick Marshall to become Auburn’s all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks1,405: Rushing yards by Cameron Artis-Payne, one of five Auburn players to top 1,400 in a season PREDICTION Auburn’s defense has been awful in the second half of the season and won’t suddenly find success against Amari Cooper. If Alabama goes up by 14-plus before halftime, it could get very ugly. Alabama 35 Auburn 24. THE GAME When: 6:45 p.m. todayWhere: Bryant-Denny Stadium, TuscaloosaRecords: Auburn (8-3, 4-3 SEC), Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC)Line: Alabama by 9On the air: TV — ESPN. Radio — WMSP-AM 740, WLWI-FM 92.3Twitter: @JamesCrepea, @bzimanek, @MGMsportsHashtag: #WarEagle, #Auburnlast_img

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