Be honest with me my friend: If I told you before the season that the Auburn Tigers would be the Crimson Tide's biggest challenge in 2013, you have had me committed. Even if you are a big-time fan of the Fightin' Malzahns you would have hesitated if for just a moment. As SEC teams continue to eat their own, and as the Tigers continue to find ways to win, what Bama fan is laughing now?
If the teams met this weekend, you'd have to think the Crimson Tide would be slight favorites, but only by a smidge. The big game is being played at Jordan-Hare stadium, and I have a feeling the energy level at AU could very well rival the moment Cadillac went crazy ten years ago.
Over the weekend we had an SEC shift of power like no other: Down went LSU, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Texas A&M. Auburn climbed from 24th to 11th in the AP Top-25 poll, and the Tigers are up to number 3 in the SEC Power Poll behind Alabama and Missouri.
What a match-up Iron Bowl 2013 is shaping up to be, as the mad offensive scientist Malzahn will match wits with Nick "Mr Defense" Saban. Think about it: Auburn leads the SEC in rushing (isn't that Bama's job?) at over 300 yards per game. The Tiger's Mason, Artis-Payne and Grant all stand in the Top 20 of SEC rushers. Auburn leads the SEC in red zone offense, scoring at an 89 percent clip. At Texas A&M Saturday, the Tigers found themselves in the red zone six times, in the end zone five times (the other was a field goal).
Ya want defense? Bama's got it: Since the win at Texas A&M, the Tide have outscored their opponents 201-16. No team in the SEC has allowed fewer first downs (12 per game over the last 5 games). The Bama defense has allowed one TD in the last 20 quarters of play. During that stretch Bama has allowed an average of 3.2 points per game and 3.86 yards per play, The average game score over that 5-game span? 40.2 to 3.2 (all right, there have been a few softies on the schedule but it's still impressive).
The bottom line? The national championship at this time still goes through Tuscaloosa. But after the crazy outcomes we have seen in the SEC this season, there is a possibility that come the SEC championship game, the Auburn Tigers will be facing the Missouri Tigers. Go ahead and have me committed for just thinking of that match-up- and if you picked that SEC title game pairing before the season, call me ASAP- I need to take you to Las Vegas.