You’d think a Nick Saban team is all about giving it their all and doing all they can on every play, but the truth this weekend and maybe the SEC Championship Game, is win the game without risking or showing too much. Do you agree?
Alabama May Let Auburn Off Easy in Iron Bowl
By: Larry Burton
Last week Alabama fans were wondering what the heck was going on? Why aren’t the running backs carrying the ball? Why is Hurts doing all the running? Why isn’t the offense mowing this team into the dust and on and on and on…
The truth was Nick Saban was playing vanilla offense, trying not to risk nicked up players and in effect, letting UT Chattanooga off easy compared to what he could have done. It just wasn’t worth it to risk injured running backs show too much offense for the opponents down the road to study and so forth.
However and this is a huge however, while Nick Saban was all too happy to rotate in and out different offensive players, the bulk of the first team defensive unit and the regular top rotators, stayed on the field. While it didn’t seem that Saban was all that important how bad he beat Chattanooga, he wanted to keep the defensive stats up and he didn’t want them to score anymore.
You can expect the same in the Auburn game. Saban wants the win and he’ll get it, but covering the spread or winning by a ton isn’t that important to him. But he does want to limit Auburn’s offense to LSU type numbers that leaves them shut down and shut up.
Despite Auburn’s record, they’re a train wreck now and Saban can see with the clarity of a coach who has seen it all and not let any emotion enter into what he’s seeing. Auburn is banged up, worse than Alabama and they have far fewer quality players to fall back on.
One month ago Auburn was flying high after beating what many thought at the time was a good Ole Miss team with a 40-29 win. Now we know Ole Miss really wasn’t that good considering the nose dive they’ve taken, but in the next game they struggled mightily with Vanderbilt and then lost to a Georgia team that couldn’t even score an offensive touchdown. Auburn simply nose dived. Take a look at this graph below. Alabama may well hold them scoreless.
Yes, they looked good against Alabama A&M University, but then a good high team might look good against that team too.
No one knows the extent of Pettway’s injury, but if this defense can totally embarrass Leonard Fournette twice in a row, what real difference does it make how healthy Auburn’s Pettway is? Pettway is good, no doubt about it, but he’s no Leonard Fournette. Auburn quarterback play has not shown the ability to compete with this defense either.
So Saban isn’t going to risk a whole lot on offense this weekend. Auburn’s defense can be beaten with one offensive arm behind their back as long as Alabama fields that defense in Crimson. Everyone in Las Vegas and the whole college football world knows it. That’s why Auburn is an 18 point dog.
This season, Alabama could beat Auburn by over 30 easily. Most folks know that too, but Las Vegas thinks like this article and knows that this is not the game to give it their all. Alabama is in the playoffs for certain, even an upset loss won’t derail that statement, but Auburn and Florida aren’t likely to provide any bumps on this playoff road and Saban may not risk that much in the Florida game because he won’t have to. Florida’s offense is about an anemic as Auburn’s and early lines are that Florida will be a 21 point dog.
Saban won’t turn the dogs loose until the playoffs where you lose and you go home. But this week, while Auburn fans will curse Nick Saban and Alabama as they always do after a loss, they need to know that he really took it easy on them this weekend and it could have been much worse.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter