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BOL Game Day Preview: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 22 Auburn

No. 1 Alabama (7-0) will host No. 22 Auburn (5-2) later this afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. As we wait for the rivalry game to kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT, here is the most pertinent game information to know, as well as our BamaOnLine staff predictions.

KEY MATCHUP

Alabama’s defensive front vs. Auburn’s rushing attack

Last season, the Tigers rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns on 34 attempts (5.32 ypc) in their win over Alabama. Leading rusher Tank Bigsby and both offensive tackles are dealing with injuries and could miss the rivalry game, but Auburn still has talented tailbacks in D.J. Williams and Shaun Shivers and a quarterback that tallied 44 yards and a score a year ago.

The Crimson Tide is coming off a game where it held Kentucky to 59 yards on 32 attempts when the Wildcats entered the contest averaging 195.0 yards on the ground per game. UA has shown signs of steady progress on the defensive side of the ball since its win over Georgia, and if it can keep Nix and the Tigers’ backs in check, that upward trend will continue.

STAFF PREDICTIONS

Charlie Potter: Alabama 41, Auburn 24.

It’s going to be strange with no Nick Saban and less than 20,000 fans in attendance, but even without the 14th-year head coach and usually raucous environment, you still never know what’s going to happen in the Iron Bowl. Alabama was able to score 45 points in Mac Jones’ first-ever road start a year ago against a talented Auburn defense, and Jones has clearly improved since then. The biggest question I have is can the Crimson Tide defense continue on its upward trend over the last several weeks? As long as it doesn’t fall back into Ole Miss game form.

Travis Reier: Alabama 41, Auburn 23

Bo Nix won’t become the first Auburn quarterback since Brandon Cox to win back-to-back Iron Bowl starts and Mac Jones won’t become the first Alabama quarterback since John Parker Wilson to drop two straight. Even had Nick Saban been available to coach, I would have predicted the margin of victory for UA to be narrower than it’s been for much of its current four-game win streak over the Tigers in Tuscaloosa, where the Tide has won by an average of 27 points. Here’s guessing, though, that the streak at Bryant-Denny Stadium will go to five just the same.

Kirk McNair: Alabama 38, Auburn 17

Having returning starting quarterback Bo Nix is a plus, even though he failed to complete 60 percent of his passes as a freshman. And Auburn has other good players. But losing four offensive linemen and Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson from the defensive line is an issue. Plus, the game is in Tuscaloosa.

Hank South: Alabama 48, Auburn 17

In the most 2020 way the Iron Bowl could be played, Steve Sarkisian will stand in for Nick Saban, assuming head coaching duties. I don’t think this changes much in terms of how the game ultimately plays out. While it could be close, and back and forth throughout the first half by nature of a heated rivalry game, I believe the Tide pulls ahead either late in the second quarter or early in the third, comfortably avenging its 2019 loss to the Tigers.

Tim Watts: Alabama 45, Auburn 27

This is always an interesting game that favors the home team. Alabama will want a little revenge after a loss on The Plains that cost it a shot at the College Football Playoff. The Tide’s offense lost some major talent but returned even more. Look for a wide-open passing attack similar to last year with the Tigers battling for the first half but too much firepower in Tuscaloosa in the end. 

INFORMATION TO KNOW

Kickoff time: 2:30 p.m. CT
Location: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Venue: Bryant-Denny Stadium
Capacity: 19,424

Television: CBS
— Play-by-play: Brad Nessler
— Analyst: Gary Danielson
— Sideline: Jamie Erdahl

Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network
— Play-by-play: Eli Gold
— Analyst: John Parker Wilson
— Sideline: Rashad Johnson

Satellite radio: CTSN on Sirius 138 / XM 191

National radio: Compass Media
— Play-by-play: TJ Rives
— Analyst: Tiki Barber

Series record: Alabama leads 46-37-1
Last meeting: Nov. 30, 2019
— Auburn 48, Alabama 45

Point spread: Alabama -24.5 (William Hill)

AROUND THE SEC

11 a.m. CT — Kentucky at Florida (ESPN)
Vanderbilt at Missouri (SEC Network)

3 p.m. CT — Mississippi State at Ole Miss (SEC Network)

6 p.m. — LSU at Texas A&M (ESPN

6:30 p.m. CT — Georgia at South Carolina (SEC Network) 

Did you know BOL has a podcast? The Built By BamaOnLine Podcast brings you the latest Alabama news and insight from Travis Reier, Charlie Potter, Hank South and Tim Watts. Catch the latest episode right here or subscribe on iTunes today!

Contact Charlie Potter by personal message or on Twitter (@Charlie_Potter).

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