Sound Off: What’s going to be biggest surprise of Iron Bowl?

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It’s one of the few times that University of Alabama coach Nick Saban really doesn’t have to say much to get his team geared up to play.

It’s Auburn Week, and the Crimson Tide (11-0) will be on the road Saturday for a No. 1 vs. No. 6 showdown that has both conference and national championship implications.

The Tigers (9-2) have to win to stay alive in the chase for the latter, while Alabama’s status isn’t quite as clear-cut. Nevertheless, it’s treating the game the same way — as a must win.

“This is why I came here, to play in games like this,” senior cornerback Anthony Averett said. “We know it’s the Iron Bowl. It’s always on the line.”

So are bragging rights, not just in a state where the talk is about college football every day of the year, but also for Alabama’s senior class. With a win, the group will notch win No. 52 to set an NCAA four-year record and finish without a single loss to its biggest rival.

“Everybody’s excited,” junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “This week of practice is usually a really good week of practice because everybody’s flying around, trying to have fun and getting ready to play.”

Marq Burnett and Christopher Walsh discuss the matchup (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, CBS) and the state of the Crimson Tide as the SEC West title is on the line, along with a trip to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. 

Great debate: What will be biggest surprise of Iron Bowl?

  • Marq and Christopher start off with their takes on what might be Alabama’s biggest concern heading into the Iron Bowl (:40). Marq talks about the overall depth of the defense and the players who have done well filling in for injured players.
  • Christopher takes the other side of the ball, especially considering the opponent (1:35), and touches on the mood of the team (2:20). Marq adds that we’ve sort of reached the point in the season where there’s not much to say; the games will speak for themselves (2:30).
  • Which team does Georgia want to face in the SEC Championship Game? Christopher thinks the Bulldogs would prefer to face one team over another (3:15). Marq gives some specifics on why he agrees (3:50) and both get into how the matchups between Alabama and Auburn have favored certain teams.
  • Which team should tally more rushing yards in the game? Both Marq and Christopher agree, but for slightly different reasons. Marq looks more toward which defensive line he thinks will step up (5:20), while Christopher points to one player in particular who he believes will be the difference maker (6:30). Marq calls the ground game crucial and names the team he thinks might be in for a long night should it struggle in that aspect (7:30).
  • Which team will finish with more passing yards? Marq points to Crimson Tide wide receiver Calvin Ridley and talks about what kind of success he might have against the Auburn secondary (8:00). Christopher offers a trivia question about this season’s receiving corps, and calls this a must-win statistical category for one side (9:25).
  • What’s going to be the biggest surprise of the Iron Bowl? Marq looks to an area that would be huge for the Crimson Tide if they win, especially with the game on the road (9:40). Christopher points to an age-old vital statistic, and sees it as a way one team could snatch momentum (10:30).