Bowl projections, Vegas lines and national rankings are in agreement: Auburn does not have much of a chance against Alabama this Saturday.
ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit is not buying it. As his College GameDay cohort Lee Corso likes to say: Not so fast, my friend.
“You’ve got to be careful in a rivalry game when you’re on the road and everybody’s assuming you’re gonna blow your rival out,” Herbstreit told SEC Country last week. “That’s a lot tougher than people realize. Nick Saban is a magician. We know he knows how to get his team mentally right. But the challenge is to go into that game and play aggressively. Play to win, as opposed as coaching not to lose and playing not to lose.”
There’s little to no pressure on Auburn’s shoulders. The Tigers are already bowl eligible, while Alabama needs to win to keep its national title hopes alive.
“They’re not having a great year, but nothing would make their fan base happier than to take chances, go for it on fourth down, mix it up,” Herbstreit said. “Fake punt. Fake field goal. Blitz a lot. Be very, very aggressive. What the heck; you have nothing to lose.
“So that’s a dangerous game for Alabama. You don’t look at a rivalry game on paper. You’ve gotta throw the emotions of the game into play. I think that’s what makes rivalry games so exciting.”
Herbstreit said the Ohio State-Michigan game has a clear edge this year because both teams are still in the title hunt, but the Iron Bowl tradition is tough to beat.
“I’ve been around it a lot,” he said. “I think it’s very similar as far as the fanbases. The way they feel out one another. How loud these stadiums get on a given Saturday when they go up against each other. Man, they’re great. There’s nothing better than this time of the year.”
The Iron Bowl kicks off at 3:30 pm ET (CBS) on Saturday.
Herbstreit and Allstate Insurance are currently offering a $100,000 prize and meet-and-greet at the 2016 national championship game. You can find more info here.