This is a Thanksgiving column, but with the Iron Bowl set for Saturday, well, let’s just pause and give thanks that we most of us in these parts do not rely on Arkansas, UTEP, Kent State ... or any institute of higher learning in New Mexico to keep us interested in gridiron happenings from late August through early January.
Auburn, after all, is considering relieving Gus ‘Waffle House’ Malzahn of his duties and the Tigers are 8-3 with a chance of knocking off Alabama, indisputably the greatest dynasty college football has had in the bowl era since Nick Saban began walking the sidelines. A win Saturday would make Malzahn 3-4 against said dynasty and Saban. That’s contract extension numbers at almost any other school. If Jim Harbaugh were 3-4 against Ohio State he would own stock in both Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
Alabama is 10-1 and although it has required the services of more doctors this season than Druid City can provide, its fans act as if the season has been a waste, A win over Auburn Saturday with a backup quarterback we only expected to see in the spring game will likely get the Tide once again in the College Football Playoff.
Saturday’s loser will probably treat whatever bowl it’s going to as punishment rather than a reward, but I promise that all-time legendary programs such as USC, Texas, Florida State and Miami would trade places with the Tide and Tigers in a heartbeat.
Bo Nix can only be mentioned in the same breath as the greatest Bo ever — or any dual-sport athlete, for that matter — because he wears the Auburn uniform; Mac Jones likewise with Tua Tagovailoa, although one has to suspect Jones has stronger ankles, knees and hips than TT. We know Jones doesn’t have Tua’s golden arm, few at any level of football do.
Auburn’s offense at times ... many times ... has resembled what Les Miles had at LSU — talent and no direction. I’ve watched Auburn games with people who know more about bass fishing than football and they predict more than often what Auburn is about to run. For a coach who chomps gum faster than Barney Fife on a date with Juanita, Malzahn sure does get nervous —and predictable — in crunch time.
Alabama’s defense at times ... many times ... has resembled units in the Big 12, which technically are correct in fielding 11 players at a time but play as if they’re using only four or five. People talk about Tua, but I believe the loss of Dylan Moses in fall practice to a knee injury may have had the biggest impact on the Tide.
Auburn’s defense is national championship caliber. Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson are as intimidating a duo as there’s ever been on the “Plains.”
Alabama may have the greatest group of wide receivers ever assembled on one college team. They will also be playing on Sundays. The jets on those guys are mind-boggling.
We know Auburn has a better kicking game, regardless, and we know Alabama has the better coach, regardless.
Therefore, the pick here is for the home team ... Auburn 24, Alabama 22.