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Sport Alabama seeks 'big statement' in Iron Bowl at Auburn to boost College Football Playoff hopes

19:00  29 november  2019
19:00  29 november  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Auburn defeated SEC rival Alabama 48 to 45 on Saturday to win the 84th annual Iron Bowl . Alabama has been one of the final four teams selected for the College Football Playoffs every year Backup Mac Jones started the fourth game of his career at Auburn and had two costly interceptions

– Six years after Auburn ’s Kick-Six crushed the souls of the Alabama football program with an ending that defied credulity, a new nickname can be This riveting, undulating and spectacular Auburn victory should be immediately stored in the cellar among the finest vintage of the Iron Bowl ’s 84 editions.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — There’s no downplaying it this week: it all comes down to the Iron Bowl.

a person standing in front of a crowd: Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III  carries the ball against the defense of Auburn defensive back Javaris Davis during the first half of their 2018 game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. © Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III carries the ball against the defense of Auburn defensive back Javaris Davis during the first half of their 2018 game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Even Alabama head coach Nick Saban didn’t mince words when discussing the importance of Saturday’s regular-season finale in Auburn.

“I think the Iron Bowl is one of the great rivalries in college football. If you’re a competitor, you love to play in games like this game this week, and playing against a really good team,” Saban said. “And maybe as it should be, a lot comes down to this game. It’s kind of the season within the season, so to speak, and I think if you have to explain that to your team or your players, they don’t really know what’s going on in football.”

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A battered and bruised Alabama Crimson Tide comes into Auburn with a fresh faced QB in Mac Jones. Will Bo Nix and this Tigers offense find enough points to

Despite having already surrendered its opportunity to play in next week’s SEC championship game by virtue of its 46-41 loss to No. 1 LSU earlier this month, the fifth-ranked Crimson Tide (10-1, 6-1 SEC) remains in the hunt for a sixth consecutive College Football Playoff appearance.

Of course, with other contenders with their own conference championship opportunities ahead, where Alabama ends up is wholly dependent on what happens at No. 16 Auburn. 

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- The second-highest scoring Iron Bowl in series history was a thriller from start to finish, but it was a missed 30-yard field goal with 2 minutes Auburn isn't Alabama 's little brother anymore. This rivalry isn't about national titles, the race for the College Football Playoff or anything bigger than this state.

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“We can’t control anything else, so we’re going to try and play as well as we can and hopefully the results show that we’re worthy of being in that top four,” junior safety Xavier McKinney said. “We know what’s at stake, we know how much this game means to us, for our team. So we’re going to come out there and try to make a big statement.”

But simply winning — which is admittedly far from a certainty against the battle-tested Tigers — might not be enough.

“I think Auburn has an outstanding team, they have some very impressive wins over top-10 teams, top-20 teams,” Saban said. “The only teams they’ve lost to are teams that were ranked in the top 10. So they’ve been very competitive and played really well in all those games.”

One of those “impressive” wins came in the season opener against a then-No. 11 Oregon, though that doesn't look as good after the sixth-ranked Ducks suffered a 31-28 loss to an unranked Arizona State last Saturday.

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Get a summary of the Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers football game. Chizik: Iron Bowl win means everything for Auburn . 1:17. Nix, Brown elated with Iron Bowl victory.

But Auburn ’s Iron Bowl wins are never sensible. They always seem like the result of Auburn praying to some deviant alternate god with a cruel sense of humor, a god who makes humans appear in bushes and makes toilet paper rain from the trees. This leaves Alabama with two losses in the regular season

Still, depending on how conference championship weekend play out, especially the SEC title game between No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Georgia, the fourth and final playoff seed is expected to be up for grabs a week from Sunday. 

Of course, both No. 7 Utah and No. 8 Oklahoma could feasibly leapfrog an idle Alabama for the final playoff spot if they win their respective conference championship games, which makes an impressive showing at Auburn all the more important.

“Man, obviously this is a big rivalry game for us, that’s been emphasized,”  junior center Landon Dickerson said. “Hopefully we can handle our business.”

That said, not being able to control anything beyond what happens on the field Saturday also provides a bit of relief and focus heading into such a competitive game.

“It’s easier, really. We’re just worrying about us right now, putting our team in the best situation (to win),” Dickerson said. “We’re really worried about this week and that’s all that we can handle right now.”

Not that it’s stopped Saban from doing his pregame politicking.

“This is the best team we’ve played, probably, so far this year,” Saban said of Auburn, “and it will be the most challenging place that we’ve played. So, a real challenge for the players on our team.”

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Auburn Tigers defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide 38-35 in the 2019 Iron Bowl . Auburn vs. Alabama : Best Fan Reactions (2013 Iron Bowl Game Ending Play ) *UPDATED* - Продолжительность: 8:45 Poeman 678 098 просмотров.

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How healthy some of those players will be for the game has yet to be determined.

The four Alabama players who sat out the Western Carolina game with minor injuries — senior defensive end Raekwon Davis (ankle), freshman nose guard D.J. Dale (knee), redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis (undisclosed) and junior receiver Henry Ruggs III (ribs) — remain “day-to-day” this week, while freshman kicker/punter Will Reichard (hip) is still out.

It’s also uncertain if injured Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (hip surgery) will travel with the team to Auburn, though Saban reaffirmed that’s a decision for Tagovailoa, his family and the team’s medical/training staff.

“We expect Tua to do what he needs to do to get healthy himself,” Saban said. “He knows he’s welcome around here any time, but if he feels up to it. I think it’s always uplifting to the team when he’s around. I’ve talked before about his spirit and leadership, having a positive impact on everybody around here and certainly we’d love to see him as much as possible. 

“But he’s also got to feel up to it. The guy’s been through a lot here. We’ll kind of leave that up to him.”

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Alabama seeks 'big statement' in Iron Bowl at Auburn to boost College Football Playoff hopes

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