Not only is it Thanksgiving week but it is Auburn vs Alabama week! While this season has not been the norm, the week of Thanksgiving has a level of normalcy with the 2020 Iron Bowl. This season’s game has plenty of storylines like every edition of the rivalry has had. A new wrinkle has been added with the fact that Alabama head coach Nick Saban will not be on the sidelines due to testing positive for Covid-19. This will be the first Iron Bowl Saban has not walked the sidelines since 2006. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is 3-4 in the Iron Bowl and will look to even his record. Malzahn is 0-4 against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Alabama enters the game with a record of 7-0 and ranked at the top of the first College Football Playoff rankings. Auburn sits at 5-2 on the season and is ranked 22nd. The game will kick off at 2:30 P.M. Central on CBS. Here are the keys for an Auburn Iron Bowl victory:
Keys for an Auburn Iron Bowl Victory
Home Nix Needs to Travel
Auburn sophomore Bo Nix has been good at home in his first two years on the Plains. On the road though, he has been mediocre. At Jordan-Hare Stadium, Nix is 10-1 as a starter and has a touchdown to interception ratio of 15-1. Away from Auburn, he is 4-5 as the starter and has thrown 10 interceptions and 11 touchdown passes. His completion percentage also takes a big dip when there is a change of venue. At home, Nix completes 63%, but on the road, he is at 54%.
There are signs of optimism though, in Auburn’s last away game against Ole Miss Nix was efficient. In the 35-28 victory, Nix was 23 for 30 for 238 yards and a touchdown. The key? Zero turnovers. Auburn will need the good Nix this Saturday in the Iron Bowl for any chance of a victory.
Auburn Needs Their Tank
In the 30-17 win over Tennessee this past Saturday, freshman running back Tank Bigsby only rushed the ball three times. He left the game early with an injury to his lower body and has been listed as questionable for the game this week. The offense will need to be at a premium for Auburn on Saturday and having Bigsby in the backfield will be pivotal.
The emergence of Bigsby has been one of the key factors to the improved play on the passing game this season. Both D.J. Williams and Shaun Shivers did play well against the Volunteers totaling 131 yards combined. That was against Tennessee though, this is Alabama. If Bigsby is not there with Nix, the Tide defense will have an easier time of taking away the run and putting the game on the shoulders of the passing game for Auburn.
Get Pressure on Mac Jones
Alabama once again has a Heisman contending quarterback for Auburn to deal with. In last season’s game, Mac Jones played a spectacular game passing for 335 yards and four touchdowns. A big difference in the game was the two interceptions thrown by Jones that resulted in Auburn touchdowns. The Tigers will need to force and create mistakes to keep this game close. Part of the reason this offense has been unstoppable is due to the fact that no team has been able to get pressure on Jones. On the season he has only been sacked seven times.
In the last two games, Auburn has been able to find their pass rush and has accumulated eight total sacks. That is how the Tigers’ defense will need to make plays in this game. Interrupting the timing of Jones and his receivers will be a great opportunity for Auburn’s talented secondary to create some opportunities. The Auburn secondary is led by Roger McCreary and Smoke Monday, and are currently the second-best pass defense in the SEC.
2020 Iron Bowl Prediction
Alabama is predicted by many to win this game by a huge margin even though Saban will be watching this one from his couch. Auburn will not be able to “stop” the Alabama offense but will make enough plays to stay in the game. The Tigers’ offense should have some opportunities against an Alabama defense that did show some struggles early in the season as well. With that said though, it will not be enough and the Crimson Tide will win 41-31.