College Football Odds & Picks for Auburn vs. Alabama: Iron Bowl’s Betting Value Lies With Crimson Tide
UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Devonta Smith (left), John Metchie III (center) and Mac Jones (right).
- The 2020 Iron Bowl features an Alabama team that is firing on all cylinders.
- Auburn, meanwhile, may be without two starting offensive linemen against the No. 1 team.
- Collin Wilson explains why he's backing the Crimson Tide to roll to victory.
Auburn vs. Alabama Odds
|Auburn Odds||+24 [BET NOW]|
|Alabama Odds||-24 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+950 / -1651 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||64.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET|
Since an embarrassing loss to South Carolina, the Tigers have played excellent football. Auburn has won and covered three straight against Ole Miss, LSU and Tennessee. There are flaws with each one of those opponents, from the Volunteers’ second-half play to the Tigers’ inept offense attack. Nonetheless, Gus Malzahn’s team is 5-2, despite critics of SEC officiating.
Malzahn opened the week addressing the injury situation to running back Tank Bigsby and a pair of offensive linemen. All are listed as questionable, as Bigsby was unable to finish the Tennessee game.
Both offensive linemen, Brodarious Hamm and Alec Jackson, would be major losses. Jackson has played 421 snaps as Bo Nix’s blindside tackle. Hamm has 438 snaps at right tackle. Austin Troxell has experience in 81 snaps at tackle but has the worst pass-blocking grade of any Auburn lineman, according to Pro Football Focus.
Defensively, K.J. Britt will continue to sit after recording 16 tackles in just two games. Coordinator Kevin Steele will rely on a trio of defensive linemen to generate pressure on quarterback Mac Jones. Big Kat Bryant, Derick Hall and Colby Wooden have a combined quarterback hurry total of 35 on the season.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Since Lane Kiffin took the Crimson Tide to the limit in a 111-point game that saw the Rebels cover the spread, Nick Saban has coached games in scorched earth mode. Alabama has won and covered four games straight against Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Kentucky. Saban has won the past two games with a combined score of 104-3.
Nick Saban: “I do think the days of playing great defense and winning are probably behind us [in college football]."
— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) November 20, 2020
When it’s College Football Playoff rankings season, Alabama shows up to remind everyone who should be the top overall seed. The Crimson Tide rank in the top five in categories ranging from Offensive Success Rate and explosiveness to Finishing Drives. These numbers are a direct reflection of how Saban projects the college football game, and more of these statistics will exist in the future.
One reason we were high on Alabama entering the season was the minimal drop from Tua Tagovailoa to Jones, who has looked good against the toughest part of the 2019 schedule. It’s Jones’ ability to throw under pressure that set him apart. In 2020, he has an adjusted completion percentage of 83% without pressure and 85% when blitzed.
Betting Analysis & Pick
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Underneath the praise for the Alabama offense has been the coverage ranks on defense. PFF grades the Crimson Tide as the sixth-best coverage unit in FBS play. The statistical leader among the Tide’s corners is Malachi Moore with six pass breakups, two interceptions, and a forced fumble, recovered and returned for a touchdown.
The biggest handicap is whether or not Nix will have time to throw among Auburn’s offensive line injuries. Alabama linebacker Christian Harris may be too much to handle, even if the Tigers’ offensive line is healthy. Harris ranks as the sixth-best defensive player in FBS in terms of Pass Rush Productivity (PRP) based on a robust sample of 255 opponent passing attempts.
Christian Harris’ Pass Rush Productivity (PRP)
Pass Rush Productivity (PRP) is defined by PFF as a formula that combines sacks, hits, and hurries with relativity to how many times they rush the passer.
Auburn’s defense may have issues stopping Alabama’s aerial attack. The Tigers are 106th in Defensive Passing Success Rate and 69th in Sack Rate. Running back Najee Harris should find success behind the Crimson Tide’s offensive line, as Auburn is outside the top 100 in Power Success and Stuff Rate.
Ultimately, the health of Bigsby and two starting offensive tackles are everything to Auburn’s chances. The offensive line can find success establishing the run, while Bigsby gives Auburn the red-zone weapon needed to combat a Tide defense that ranks in the top 20 in Finishing Drives.
If Auburn is unable to protect Nix in passing downs, this could be a long day for the Tigers.
Pick: Alabama -24.