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What to watch: Auburn vs. Alabama

Pride. How much does the 2021 Auburn Tigers football team have? Because at this point in the season, that is what is left to play for.

Auburn has lost three consecutive games SEC games, its starting quarterback and any good vibes that were present at the end of October.

It is at this point that Auburn hosts third-ranked Alabama for the Iron Bowl in Jordan-Hare Stadium as a nearly three-touchdown underdog.

The Crimson Tide enters the game on a five-game winning streak, but several of the victories have been closer than the Bama faithful would prefer.

Coach Nick Saban and company have already locked up the SEC western division title and will face the Georgia Bulldogs next week in the championship game.

Take a look at two things that Auburn will need to do to have a chance to defeat the Crimson Tide today.

Force Turnovers

This year, the Auburn defense has employed a strategy that many call “bend but don’t break.” The term means a defense is content to give up multiple short-yardage plays consecutively as opposed to playing an aggressive style and risk big plays.

Whether or not the Tigers continue that today is probably irrelevant if they do not figure out a way to force multiple turnovers against Alabama.

The Tide offense, led by quarterback Bryce Young, leads the SEC in scoring, at over 44 points per game. Alabama wide receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie have combined for over 2100 yards and 20 receiving touchdowns this season.

The Alabama passing attack is efficient and explosive, so the Auburn pass defense will need to generate multiple negative plays when the Tide drops back to pass to slow down the visitors.

Auburn senior defensive backs Roger McCreary and Smoke Monday are a couple of players in the secondary that the Tigers rely on to make game-changing plays.

Today, Auburn needs those seniors to make life difficult for the Tide and give the home fans several opportunities to get loud.

Explosive offensive plays

It seems unlikely that Auburn will be capable of stringing together multiple long drives for touchdowns against the Crimson Tide. If this is the case, the Tigers must find ways to generate explosive plays to score.

Auburn has struggled to do that in recent weeks, so it is up to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to scheme the Tigers into points.

Auburn quarterback TJ Finley is a big, talented thrower, and the Tigers must figure out a way to capitalize on his strengths in the passing game.

The Tigers’ most effective position group on offense all year has been the tailbacks. Tank Bigsby, Shaun Shivers and Jarquez Hunter must all be involved in the game plan today.

Auburn probably needs at least one long-gaining play from each of those backs against Alabama if the Tigers are going to put up enough points to take down the Tide.

Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers.

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