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Auburn vs. Alabama Prediction: Crimson Tide Aim for Third Straight Iron Bowl Win Over Tigers

Auburn needs this game to become bowl eligible while Alabama still holding on to slim College Football Playoff hopes.

You never know what you're going to get when the Iron Bowl comes around. Sometimes it can be supremely epic and sometimes it can be a real dud.

Just look at the last four years. The 2021 game went into four overtimes before Bama won 24-22. The year before that, the Tide crushed the Tigers 42-13. In 2019, No. 16 Auburn rallied for an over-the-top 48-45 win over No. 5 Bama. In 2018, the No. 1-ranked Tide run-ruled the Tigers 52-21. See what I mean? It can be one for the ages or it can be a game where there is not enough whiskey smuggled into the stadium to make it interesting.

After a terrible five-game skid, the Tigers (5-6, 2-5 SEC) actually come into this game with a modest two-game winning streak, beating Texas A&M 13-10 and then out-legging WKU 41-17. And no matter what the odds are, if the Plainsmen happen to pull off the upset here they would become bowl eligible. Now, how's that for motivation?

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 13

Oh, as for Alabama? Meh, the Crimson Tide (9-2, 5-2) essentially had the week off last week, beating FCS Austin Peay 34-0. No biggie. But 'Bama still has College Football Playoff aspirations, so you know they don't want to sleepwalk through this one.

Auburn at No. 7 Alabama

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Alabama -21.5
Tickets: As low as $126 on*

When Auburn Has the Ball

Look for the Tigers to play fast and loose. Look, they've got nothing to lose. But as interim head coach Carnell Williams said, if you can't get up for this game, then there is something wrong. There are 24 seniors who will be putting on the blue and orange for the final time, so that should be motivation enough. Williams and his staff have to put in some early confidence-building plays that will make for some easy, quick completions for Robby Ashford and hope it can lead to opening up some running lanes for Tank Bigsby. Also, look for a lot of misdirection and gadget plays to offset that hyper-speed defense of the Tide. As the popular shirts on the plains says, "Go crazy Cadillac, go crazy."

Also, it's easy if you're Alabama: just make Ashford throw the ball. Bigsby and running mate Jarquez Hunter are both coming in off two straight 100-plus yard games, so there is some momentum from the running game. But this ain't no Western Kentucky defense they'll be going against. If Ashford is forced to try to win this game with his right arm, the Tigers are in trouble. Obviously Ashford is a talented, athletic dude and has a bright future ahead of him. But this year hasn't been a banner year through the air. Ashford comes into this game at Alabama with a completion rate under 50 percent and more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six). In his last three games, he's gone just 21-of-54 for 237 yards. Obviously, his escapability is top-notch so the Tide may use a spy on Ashford all day, just begging him to throw.

When Alabama Has the Ball

Two words for the Red Elephants: ground and pound (OK, that's kinda three words, sorry). Go out there and make Bear Bryant proud. The Tigers don't have a ton of defensive depth and could be dragging their tongues by the late third and early fourth quarter. Plus, they are 10th in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing 176 yards per game. And this is a Bama team that is averaging 200 yards per game on the ground. Jahmyr Gibbs and Co. have to be liking their chances in punching that AU defense in the mouth, old-school style.

There have been some positives to the Auburn defense of late, especially holding WKU's Austin Reed to under 50 percent passing and getting some big-time pressure on him all game long was a huge key. Again, this isn't the Hilltoppers' O-line they'll be facing this week, but if the Tigers can continue to stunt, slant and blitz to some degree effectively against Bryce Young, that will go a long way to determining if Auburn can stay in this game or not.

Final Analysis

Keep an eye on the success of the respective running backs for each team. Ironically (or should I say IRON-ically?) the Tigers and the Tide are the only programs in the country that are led in both rushing and receiving by a running back: Bigsby for Auburn and Gibbs for Alabama. So those two will certainly be bell cows for their offenses here. Whoever has the better stats, wins? Yes, possibly.

And also, you never know about these rivalry games. Emotion plays such a big part. But the Plainsmen don't exactly have Lane Kiffin calling the plays, so I can't imagine their offense will be able to keep up with the Tide for four straight quarters. Wait… too soon?

Prediction: Alabama 31, Auburn 10

Podcast: Week 13 Preview, Predictions, Picks Against the Spread, Breakdown of the Latest CFB Playoff Rankings, and Coaching News and Rumors

— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.

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