The Plainsman sports staff gives their prediction for Saturday's matchup between No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Auburn.
Will Sahlie, sports editor
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Auburn in a winner-take-all Iron Bowl for the SEC West. It's hard to believe that the final weekend of the college football regular season is already here, but what could be a better way to wrap up Thanksgiving.
This is has been one of the most difficult games to predict, as there are several different scenarios that could play out on Saturday.
I believe this is going to be a knockdown, drag-out, four-quarter battle that will go down in history. Can Auburn outlast the No. 1 team in the country? Will the Tigers continue to create explosive plays? Those are the two questions that will determine this game.
Auburn will face adversity in this game, whether that be early in the affair or late in the fourth quarter. No matter when it is, Auburn must stay the course. The Tigers must stick to the game plan and keep the pressure on the Crimson Tide for four quarters.
I believe Kerryon Johnson will have another huge game for Auburn against a banged-up Alabama defense. Jarrett Stidham will have to make plays over the top of the Tide secondary, and protect the ball at all costs.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts will make plays, but will he make enough? I do not believe so.
Jordan-Hare Stadium was rocking in Auburn's victory over Georgia, and I expect the atmosphere to be on another level on Saturday. The Tigers will give their frenzied crowd something to cheer for, as they will deliver the final blow on Saturday.
Score prediction: Auburn 27, Alabama 23
Nathan King, assistant sports editor
A few weeks ago, this game didn't look at all enticing.
Now, with an invigorated Auburn offense facing off with the usual dominant Alabama defense in a winner-take-all Iron Bowl for the SEC West, this one is going to be good.
Can Kerryon Johnson get to the second level of Bama's defense? The Tide's front line is stout, but the linebacking corps is depleted, to say the least. An impressive performance in a victory should drop Johnson into the Heisman discussion.
Georgia's run defense was good, statistically better than Alabama's at the time. Georgia as a team was supposedly better than Alabama at the time.
The difference: Georgia laid an egg in the second half. Nick Saban is physically incapable of allowing his team to fall victim to the same fate.
Coaching wise, Alabama wins this one. But Auburn has had nothing to lose for weeks. Alabama should have all the pressure on its shoulders.
The key to victory should be the same as Auburn vs. UGA: The QBs will have to win this one through the air. Auburn's defense will look to stifle Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough, and then it will move on to terrorizing Jalen Hurts.
Problem is, Jalen Hurts doesn't experience normal human emotions.
The sophomore gunslinger has been looking for a breakout performance all season. This would be the game to do it. This just isn't the defense to do it.
Special teams should play a huge role. The team that commits more turnovers will be in a really bad spot. In a toss up, I think Auburn at home, with Jordan-Hare deafening, will make more key plays down the stretch. At this point, no result that will come from this game will surprise me.
Score prediction: Auburn 23, Alabama 21.
Tyler Roush, sports reporter
Auburn is undefeated against Nick Saban when both teams are ranked in the top 10.
The last time the Tigers managed to knock off another top-ranked Alabama, Gus Malzahn's squad rode destiny toward a loss in the BCS Championship.
This time around, it'll be a battle of defenses and quarterbacks.
Jarrett Stidham has been waiting all season to have an opportunity to avenge his team's loss to then-No. 2 Clemson and a breakdown in the bayou to LSU.
Kerryon Johnson, who leads the SEC in rushing yardage and co-leads the conference in touchdowns with 16, will complement his quarterback to a Heisman tee.
The duo will face a dominant, yet injured Crimson Tide defense at Jordan-Hare Stadium, while Auburn's linebackers will need to keep Jalen Hurts from bursting up the seams.
If Auburn is able to continue their prowess, much like they did against then-No. 1 Georgia, then this Iron Bowl will follow the same script it typically does in those big moments.
And Malzahn should have his best tricks for last.
Score prediction: Auburn 28, Alabama 24
Sumner Martin, sports writer
For the second time in the Malzahn era, the Iron Bowl is a winner-take-all matchup, with the winner getting the chance to play for the SEC championship in Atlanta.
Nick Saban's Crimson Tide enter the contest, yet again, undefeated and as the No. 1 team in the country while the Tigers are hoping to stay hot, coming off a 40-17 blowout win against Georgia.
This game has a similar feel to the 2013 "Kick Six" classic and has the same stakes, however this Auburn team doesn't have the same offensive firepower. This year's Auburn offense has shown it has the tendency to struggle against good defenses, and Jarrett Stidham has been improving but he's no Nick Marshall, and to beat Alabama's defense you need an incredible quarterback performance.
Jordan-Hare will be rocking Saturday afternoon and despite Alabama's fairly weak schedule to this point in the season, Jalen Hurts has proven over and over again that he's clutch.
Both defenses are phenomenal, so this game will come down to the quarterback play. I give Jalen Hurts a slight edge over Stidham, and that is the main reason I'm picking the Tide to clinch the SEC West title Saturday afternoon.
Score Prediction: Alabama 27, Auburn 17
Peter Santo, sports writer
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Auburn with the winner advancing to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta to play for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Does it get any better than this?
The Crimson Tide come into this game as the favorite, and for good reason, as Nick Saban's squad is undefeated and is coming off an excellent road win against Mississippi State. But this is the most evenly matched Iron Bowl since 2013 and an Auburn upset is far from out of the question.
For the Tigers, the game plan should be the same as it was two weeks ago against Georgia—run the football with Heisman hopeful Kerryon Johnson, and stop the run on defense.
Johnson must lead the way for Auburn, the Tigers need to avoid falling behind early and control the clock with the running game. If they can play keep away from Jalen Hurts, then Jarrett Stidham can make enough plays over the top.
With College Gameday coming to the Plains and Jordan-Hare Stadium ready to rock, look for Auburn to pull off the huge upset.
Score Prediction: Auburn 30, Alabama 27