It’s impressive that No. 1 Alabama has allowed an average of 9.3 points per game this season – best in the land. It’s maybe more impressive that in going 11-0, 7-0 in the SEC, the Crimson Tide has given up just 12 touchdowns. And more impressive still that only six of those TDs have been scored by teams other than Texas A&M with someone at quarterback not named Johnny Manziel.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and his teammates will face off against Auburn Saturday, Nov. 30.
(AP Photo/Dave Martin)
“We’re playing the best team in the country, no doubt,” first-year Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said on CBS.
The No. 4 Tigers, 10-1 and 6-1, play Alabama Saturday in the Iron Bowl. The winner moves on to the SEC title game in Atlanta against either Missouri or South Carolina (more on that in a moment).
Alabama’s 11-win season is the 17th in school history and they’ve won at least 11 three straight seasons and five of the last six. They also won back-to-back national championships and three of the last four.
Even so, Malzahn feels good about his team. The turnaround – Auburn was 3-9 and 0-8 last season – is almost old news. The Tigers have pulled off three last-minute wins, the last one over Georgia when Ricardo Louis caught a pass deflected off a Georgia defensive back for the winning touchdown.
“It was electric and this place has been buzzing ever since,” Malzahn said.
Auburn had a bye week and Malzahn sounded confident in the interview with CBS, saying, “The good thing is we’re playing good football, we’ve improved each week, and we’re playing at home. If it’s a close game, I like our chances.”
As for No. 5 Missouri and 10th-ranked South Carolina, the Tigers (10-1, 6-1) can clinch the East Division title with a win over No. 19 Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3). If the Tigers lose, South Carolina (9-2, 6-2) is in based on the Gamecocks’ victory over Missouri. Which actually makes South Carolina’s rivalry game with No. 6 Clemson less important than the Aggies beating Missouri.
“Whatever happens … we have no control,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “We’ll read about it in the paper.”
Missouri beat Ole Miss 24-10 last week and about 8,000 fans traveled to Oxford for the game, another sign that in the Tigers’ second year in the SEC they are all-in.
“We get the SEC,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “And the fans get the SEC and the responsibility that goes with being an SEC fan.”
Egg Bowl: some storyline, different team. Last season, Ole Miss had to beat Mississippi State to become bowl eligible. The Rebels did, won their bowl game, and finished 7-6.
This season, it’s the Bulldogs (5-6, 2-5) needing one more victory to get to six wins. The game is in Starkville and the Rebels (7-4, 3-4) already are assured a bowl game.
Quarterback Johnny Manziel had one of the worst games of his career in the Aggies’ 34-10 loss to LSU as he was twice intercepted and also sacked twice. It likely ended his chances for a second straight Heisman Trophy, although there was some sentiment out there that voters didn’t want to cast a ballot for him again, anyway.
Vanderbilt’s win over Tennessee marked just the second time the Commodores have beaten the Vols two straight; the last was in 1925-26. The loss dropped UT to 4-7, making bowl eligibility impossible. Senior defensive lineman Daniel Hood said he and the other seniors ought to stick around until January out of respect for first-year coach Butch Jones and help motivate returning players.
Hood said it wasn’t just that they wouldn’t get to play in a bowl game, but all the reps that were lost, too. “We cost them 15 practices,” Hood said.
Arkansas (3-8, 0-7) is on the verge of making history: first Razorbacks team to lose nine games, first one to go winless in the SEC. For first-year coach Bret Bielema to avoid this fate, Arkansas will have to beat No. 15 LSU (8-3, 4-3) on the road.