2017 Alabama football opponent preview and prediction: Auburn
Counting down to the start of Alabama’s football season, SEC Country is previewing the Crimson Tide’s 2017 opponents.
Alabama vs. Auburn
- When: Saturday, Nov. 25
- Kickoff time: TBA
- Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.
- TV: TBA
- Last meeting: Alabama defeated Auburn 30-12 on Nov. 26, 2016
Auburn at a glance
- Coach: Gus Malzahn
- 2016 record: 8-5, 5-3 SEC
Auburn players to watch
Kamryn Pettway | RB
In only 10 games last season (six starts), Kamryn Pettway accumulated a team-leading 1,224 yards rushing with 7 touchdowns, but Alabama held him to 17 yards on 12 carries.
He led the SEC in rushing yards per game in 2016 with 122.4, which ranked 12th nationally. Pettway eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in his seventh game last season.
Pettway was a first-team All-SEC selection and rushed for 100 yards or more in each of seven games (150-plus yards in five games). Auburn is 5-0 in games when he rushes for more than 150 yards.
Kerryon Johnson | RB
Kerryon Johnson had 895 rushing yards on 182 attempts and led the team with 11 touchdowns in 2016, but Alabama held him to 39 yards on 8 carries when the teams met on Nov. 26.
In 25 career games (seven starts), Johnson has accumulated 2,078 all-purpose yards, with 1,103 on the ground. His career kick-return average of 25.12 yards ranks seventh in Auburn history. Last season, he added 125 yards on 17 receptions and averaged 22.3 yards per kickoff return.
Johnson recorded three 100-yard rushing performances last season and had four games with 100 or more total yards. Johnson’s best overall performance in 2016 came against No. 19 LSU, when he rushed the ball 22 times for 93 yards and added 68 receiving yards.
Tre’ Williams | LB
Tre’ Williams racked up 67 tackles in 11 games in 2016 while contributing 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior has started 10 of 36 games in his three-year career and accumulated 138 tackles with the Tigers.
With Williams as a key contributor on one of the nation’s most improved defenses in 2016, the Tigers ranked seventh in scoring defense (17.1 points per game), 27th in rushing defense (132.7 yards per game) and 28th in total defense (361.9 yards per game). With eight starters returning on defense, the Tigers look to make even more improvement in 2017.
Daniel Carlson | K
Daniel Carlson has totaled at least 109 points in each season as the starting kicker (39 games) and has improved on accuracy every year, finishing last season with an 87.5 percent accuracy rate.
Carlson connected on 4 field goals of 50 yards or more last season, including a 52-yard kick against Alabama, which placed second to 2016 Groza Award winner Zane Gonzalez of Arizona State.
If you’ve been following this countdown, you know that we have predicted Alabama football to stand 11-0 heading into the Iron Bowl. Let’s go ahead and make that 12-0. It’s hard to objectively look at another team on paper and say it is better than Alabama. It has taken some great efforts to beat the Crimson Tide over the years.
Look at Alabama’s losses over the last few years. It’s taken incredible quarterback play (Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2016) or some fluky bounces (5 turnovers vs. Ole Miss in 2015) for opponents to get a win over Alabama football.
Auburn is talented and well-coached. Even though he hasn’t officially won the job, quarterback Jarrett Stidham is viewed as the savior for this season. Pettway is one of the top running backs in the SEC and the country.
Auburn’s problem during Malzahn’s tenure hasn’t been the offense, though. It’s the defense that has the biggest question marks. Is Auburn’s defense improved enough to slow down Alabama’s offensive attack? We’ll have to wait and see. For now, look for Alabama to push its Iron Bowl win streak to four games.
Alabama 27, Auburn 16
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