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      Smack Zone — College Football Rivalries

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      Alabama Crimson Tide vs Auburn Tigers: 2019 Iron Bowl Preview

      Alabama Crimson Tide vs Auburn Tigers: 2019 Iron Bowl Preview

      Date: November 30, 2019, at 3:30 PM EST
      Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium | Auburn, Alabama
      Teams: #5 Alabama vs #16 Auburn

      The trophy is called the James E. Foy, V-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy. It's awarded to the winner of the Iron Bowl. 

      It's a rivalry that dates all the way back to 1893. It was the Auburn Tigers edging the Alabama Crimson Tide to the tune of 32-22 in the series' first meeting. There are plenty of rivalries throughout sports, but not too many can hold a candle to the Iron Bowl.

      The Alabama Crimson Tide are currently leading the all-time series 46-36-1. Alabama has won 4 of the last 5 meetings.  

      Auburn Tigers 

      Auburn Tigers Gear

      When I reminisce about Aubrun, the first few names that come to mind are the great Bo Jackson, Cam Newton, Ronnie Brown, and Cadillac Williams. Sure there are plenty of others, but Jackson is without a doubt Auburn's finest. Jackson won back to back Iron bowls in 1982 & 83 with an abundance of memorable rushes. He went on to become one of the best athletes in sports history.  

      Jackson was a two-sport superstar. Not just in college, but as a professional athlete. Bo was an MLB All-Star along with being a Pro-Bowler in the NFL. As the clock continues to strike swiftly, and the years continue to stack up, we tend to forget how good players like Jackson were.

      Perhaps the younger generation will continue to link Cam Newton as the best player in Tigers' history. If you are reading this and are under the age of 35, pull up some Bo Jackson Tigers' highlights.

      It seems Gus Malzahn's Tigers often enter the game as an underdog. Before Malzahn became the head coach at Auburn, he served as the team's offensive coordinator for three seasons. During that time, the Auburn Tigers won the National Championship. Gus was named the Nations' top assistant college football coach.

      After earning the award, Gus was granted an opportunity to become the head coach at Arkansas State. It was only a one year stint before returning to Auburn as the Tigers head coach. He single-handedly turned the program around, making them once again relevant after just one season.   

      Auburn's Offense

      In 2019, it's highly-regarded true freshman quarterback Bo Nix who paces the Auburn offense. Nix is a dual-threat QB who fits Malzahn's system perfectly. Nix was destined to play quarterback at Auburn. His father is Patrick Nix, who played QB for the Tigers from 1992 until 1995. Nix was awarded Alabama's Mr. Football in 2018.  

      Sophomore tailback JaTarvious Whitlow leads the Tigers rushing attack. The option run remains a staple of Malzahn's playbook. If it's not Whitlow or Nix scampering on the ground, Nix is usually trying to hook up with Auburn's big-play threat Seth Williams. 

      Williams, another Sophmore, is averaging 16.3 yards per catch in '19. Believe it or not, it's down from last seasons' 20.5 yards per reception. Whitlow has missed some time due to a knee injury this season, but he is expected to play in this years' Iron Bowl.

      The skilled positions on offense are young and talented, and you can expect them to continue to develop. 

      Auburn's Defense

      On defense, senior defensive back Jeremiah Dinson leads the way for the Tigers. He's a tackling machine, and prior to last weekend's game against the Georgia Bulldogs, he'd already recorded 61 tackles to lead the team. Dinson has also recorded one interception, a pair of sacks, and one forced fumble.

      No Tigers' defensive back has more than one interception. Despite a strong unit overall, they are struggling to get takeaways on defense.

      Upfront, it's Marlon Davidson regularly causing havoc pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Davidson has recorded a team-high 5.5 sacks on the season. Derrick Brown plays inside and also generally provides a push upfront. He's recorded four sacks on the year. 

      Can Tua's Injury Open the Door for the Tigers?

      Although Gus Malzahn has had plenty of success with Auburn in the past, his seat is about as hot as it can be. With a 21-14 loss to Georgia and a date with Alabama coming, it could be an 8-4 season for the Tigers, which is just not good enough for Auburn. However, a serious injury could potentially leave the door open for an Iron Bowl win, in turn, saving Malzahn's job.

      Alabama Crimson Tide 

       

      Alabama Crimson Tide Apparel

      When I think about the University of Alabama, the first name I think of is Nick Saban. Saban is, without a doubt, the best head coach in all of college football today, and arguably college football history. He's a perennial National Championship contender and continues to acquire many of the Nations's top recruits. 

      Nick Saban has won six National Championships. Count them...six. He's a coaching offspring of New England Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick. Saban served as Bill's defensive coordinator during their time with the Cleveland Browns. Saban also had head coaching stints with the Michigan State Spartans and LSU Tigers before settling in at Alabama.

      Saban's career record with Alabama is eye-opening. He's 149-22 with the Crimson Tide since he was hired back in 2007.

      Alabama has produced many NFL superstars over the years, especially linemen. They are also known for providing a plethora of skilled positional players too.

      Julio Jones, of the Atlanta Falcons, is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL right now. Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys is no slouch, either. Not only does Alabama consistently deliver great wide receivers, but they are also known for their staple of quality running backs — although Alabama does tend to put a lot of miles on their backs.

      Take Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, for example. They had incredibly successful collegiate careers in Alabama and were drafted early because of their talent. However, after just a few seasons, the wear and tear from the NFL and their time at Alabama caused them to lose a step. 

      But there are plenty of Crimson Tide running backs still excelling in the NFL.  Kenyan Drake was a Bama running back who was recently traded to the Arizona Cardinals where he's beginning to get back into form. Look at Heisman winners' Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans) and Mark Ingram (Baltimore Ravens) who are both top 15 rushing leaders in the NFL right now. Let's not forget the latest product out of Alabama, Josh Jacobs, who is excelling in Jon Gruden's run-first offense with the Oakland Raiders.

      Alabama seemingly always finds a way to grind out wins with a ground and pound system. However this year, the Crimson Tide was opening the playbook with Heisman hopeful Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. Unfortunately, Tua suffered a season-ending hip injury this past Saturday against Mississippi State. The Tide were in their 2-minute offense just before half-time with the game already out of hand. According to Nick Saban, it was going to be Tua's final drive of the day — unfortunately, it was his final drive of the season.

      He was scrambling out to his left, waiting for a receiver to present himself open when he took a crushing hit from two defenders at the same time. He suffered a broken hip, one similar to what ended the great Bo Jackson's career along with a broken nose. 

      He won't be able to compete against Auburn in the Iron Bowl, leaving the game in the balance. Tagovaila also suffered a broken nose. The hip and nose were both repaired successfully Monday, but his Alabama career is all but over. The recovery time will be at least three months, and the NFL draft is where his sights are set now.  

      Alabama's Offense

      Tua Tagovailoa is a gifted thrower and can run like the wind. He's likely to be the first overall pick in the up and coming NFL Draft even after suffering the devastating injury. He's connecting on 71% of his pass attempts and has tossed for 31 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions on the 2019 season.

      With Tua out, 21-year-old Mac Jones will now be asked to lead Alabama into the bowl season. In limited action this season, Jones has a completion percentage of 64% with five touchdowns and 689 total yards.

      Najee Harris on the ground leads Alabama, yet another Alabama runner that will likely be playing on Sundays. Harris is averaging north of 6 yards per carry (YPC) but has only found the endzone six times this season.

      DeVonta Smith is another big-time receiver from Alabama. He's reeled in 50 balls to total 934 yards and 11 scores in 2019. His running mate is Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy has 753 yards on 57 grabs and has recorded 9 scores. Alabama has featured its passing attack this year, which is unlike the traditional Crimson Tide model. It'll be interesting to see how they choose to attack teams moving forward without their star quarterback.

      Alabama Defense

      Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain (yes, the son of former NFL DB) are ballhawks in the Bama secondary. Xavier McKinney, another defensive back leads the Crimson Tide in tackles. Don't be surprised to see all three DB's coming off the board early in next year's NFL draft. 

      Jennings, Lee, and Harris are three linebackers that fly to the football. The DL to watch is a future first-round pick, Raekwon Davis. Bama is known for producing run stuffers, and that's precisely what Davis does. He can create plenty of interior penetration, causing havoc.

      It will be fun to watch the option run of Auburn versus te stout run defense of Alabama.

      Tale of the Tape

      Ranks Alabama (9-1) Auburn (7-3)
       Offensive Ranking 4th 36th
      Defensive Ranking 10th 3rd
      Overall 3rd 10th

       

      * All Stats are from College Football Reference. Rankings are from ESPN.

      Written by Bob Heyrman: A passionate life long Detroit sports fan. I Love the city, I’m often found in the District Detroit enjoying a sporting event! Follow Bob on Twitter.

      Noles-Canes: a Faded Rivalry?

      [caption id="attachment_1285" align="aligncenter" width="474"]Hey, everybody! It's FSU-Miami week! Um ... hello? Anyone? Hello? Hey, everybody! It's FSU-Miami week! Um ... hello? Anyone? Hello?[/caption] They say a contest can only be considered a true rivalry if both teams have a realistic chance to win any given year. Oh, the tide might shift in favor of one team or the other every decade or so, but in general, rivalries tend to balance out over time. It is with this truism in mind that we remind everyone that this is, in fact, Florida State-Miami week. Cue the crickets. [caption id="attachment_1268" align="alignleft" width="300"]Florida State Click to get the shirt, Noles fans![/caption] It used to mean something. It used to mean a hell of a lot, in fact. Now? Meh. The No. 12 Seminoles bring a five-game win streak against the Hurricanes into Saturday's meeting in Tallahassee. That's two shy of the longest win streak by either team in the 59-game history of the series (Florida State won seven in a row in 1963-72). The most newsworthy thing about the U these days is Al Golden's immediate future with the program. In fact, a victory at the Doak might be the only thing that saves Golden's job. Um ... yeah. Good luck with that. Still, the Hurricanes can claim with pride the all-time lead in the series at 31-28. And Miami's five national championships still make the Canes the Kings of the Sunshine State. Oh, and Noles fans, lest you get a little full of yourself heading into the weekend, here's a little reminder of one reason why the Canes have won those five national titles. Two words: Wide. Right. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYTp7IbZ2uY]  

      Too Blue for You, UT

      [caption id="attachment_1091" align="aligncenter" width="474"]At UT's Neyland Stadium, there is orange. And there is white. It is arrayed in a checkerboard pattern. It does not seem to affect what happens on the field of play in any way. It's pretty, though. At UT's Neyland Stadium, there is orange. And there is white. It is arrayed in a checkerboard pattern. It does not seem to affect what happens on the field of play in any way. It's pretty, though.[/caption] Saturday afternoon at the Swamp will see a “blue out” for the Tennessee vs. Florida game. After beating Kentucky for the 29th straight time last week (you read that right), Florida looks to take down Tennessee for the 11th straight time. The SEC will have its eyes on this contest, as the winner has the upper hand in the race with Georgia to win the SEC East. Florida is trying to confuse Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs by having the blue out. With so many blue shirts in the stadium, and blue uniforms on the field, how will Dobbs know where to throw the ball? The Swamp will be a no orange zone Saturday afternoon. Lots of teams utilize the crowd as an intimidation method. Or to try to rattle opposing players. Either way, not sure it is so effective. Penn State had a white-out last year against Ohio State, and ended up losing in OT. The white-out forgot to block for Hackenberg. Last week, Tennessee used their traditional checkerboard to rattle Oklahoma. They ended up blowing their largest lead ever (17 points) and wound up losing in double OT. At least it looked really cool. We will see how intimidated Tennessee is coming to an all blue stadium.  

      Smack Apparel Weekly Picks Contest! Win T-Shirts and Bragging Rights

      Welcome to the Smack Apparel weekly football picks contest, where t-shirts and bragging rights are on the line every week. To play, click this link: Smack Apparel Picks Contest. Once there, register at the top-right of the page. Next, pick your winners for every game and enter a score for the tie-breaker. Each weekly winner will receive three Smack Apparel t-shirts, and the runner-up will receive one t-shirt. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter and tag your friends. Don’t forget to remind them who’s the king of picking games with your best smack talk! To help you out, here are a few random thoughts on this week’s slate.

      COLLEGE GAMES

      Florida State at Boston College – Welcome to the ultimate Tea Party event. Northwestern at Duke – May the highest composite IQ win. Virginia Tech at Purdue – What’s a Boilermaker without a splash of Wild Turkey? Georgia Tech at Notre Dame – This week’s lock: A team with gold helmets will win this game. Nebraska at Miami – Hello, 2015? 1995 called. It wants its national championship game back. Baton Rouge DrinkingTownAuburn at LSU – So many Tigers. Rawr. South Carolina at Georgia – After last week’s shocker against Kentucky, the Ole Ball Coach needs to bounce back against his Ole Rival. Texas Tech at Arkansas – The Razorbacks have allowed one TD pass in two games. Tech’s Pat Mahomes might double that … in the first quarter. Florida at Kentucky – A chance for one of these teams to stake an early claim as an SEC East contender. California at Texas – The Horns could use a “get-better” game to right their season. This ain’t that. Rutgers at Penn State – The battle for the bottom of the Big Ten East. Pittsburgh at Iowa – Coming off a rivalry win against Iowa State, favored Hawkeyes could be ready for letdown. Stanford at USC – The last 19 times Stanford entered this game unranked, it went 1-17-1. Stanford is unranked this week. Do the math. Ole Miss at Alabama – The touchdown-underdog Rebs could win, but it would make some major history: Ole Miss is 1-27 all-time in Tuscaloosa, and the Tide has never lost consecutive games to the Rebs. BYU at UCLA – Hint for UCLA: If BYU QB Tanner Mangum drops back for a Hail Mary pass, pray.

      NFL GAMES

      Bills Brady BunchPatriots at Bills – Rex the Wonder Coach and his upstart Bills try to announce their presence with authority against the Very Shady Brady Bunch. Seahawks at Packers – We’ll defer to Marshawn Lynch’s mom, Delisa, for commentary on this one. Actual, news-making, direct quote from her Facebook page after Seattle’s loss to St. Louis: "Too the smart azz media who wrote that's why marshawn didn't get the ball in the superbowl ,how many times did russell get sacked yesterday. Dont worry i will wait on the answer plus it was totally different at the superbowl the line was better than yesterday no blocking and to the offense caller who should have been fired yes i said it Fired !!! He is the worst play-caller ever the only reason he called that dumb azz play yesterday is to be able to justify the 1 yard that wasn't called in the superbowl ,but most fans already figured this out .were still on a mission but i know the Seahawks staff loves that play caller more than a win ,go figure ‪#‎nfldontpayme# I love this team and will stand up to anybody who tries to destroy it boom!!!!" We could not have said it better ourselves. Lions Vikings Keep CalmLions at Vikings – It won’t matter how well QB Teddy Bridgewater or RB Adrian Peterson play for Minnesota if the Vikes’ D doesn’t do much better against Detroit rookie RB Ameer Abdullah than it did against San Fran’s Carlos Hyde (168 yards on 26 carries). Texans at Panthers – Houston’s DL/LB J.J. Watt could very well be the best fantasy play of the week from this game. Cowboys at Eagles – Eagles RB DeMarco Murray had nine yards on eight carries against the Falcons in Week 1. Very, very, very safe to say he’ll perform better than that this week against the team that was too cheap to pay him after he set a Cowboys record for rushing yards in a season. DeMarco Murray Eagles Shirt

      The 10 Greatest College Football Rivalries

      [caption id="attachment_914" align="aligncenter" width="474"]Smack Zone - Steve Hill After a newsy (and boozy) offseason, college football is finally back! Illustration: Steve Hill.[/caption] By Bob D’Angelo, Smack Zone Contributor You live and die for your college football team. You savor victories against your hated rival. Losing is unthinkable. “I’d rather have a Pap smear and a root canal, simultaneously, than have Alabama lose to Auburn,” said author and Tide fan Bonnie Bartel Latino. You get the idea. Some rivalries date to the early 1890s, and we LOVE the fact that we are on the verge of starting yet another season. Here’s hoping that this year brings even more fuel to the smack bonfires of history. And now, we present the Smack Zone top 10 college football rivalries of all time:

      1. Ohio State vs. Michigan.
      [caption id="attachment_898" align="alignright" width="296"]College Football Rivalries Ohio State and Michigan is No. 1 on our list. Where did your team's rivalry land? Who did we miss?[/caption] The third Saturday in November usually has Big Ten and national title implications. In fact, Ohio State was No. 1 and Michigan was No. 2 when the teams clashed in 2006. Ohio State won 42-39 in Columbus. Interestingly, the Ohio Lottery Pick 4 drawing that night was 4-2-3-9. Michigan owns a 56-46-6 lead in this border war that began in 1897, but this series has been defined by two coaches. Woody and Bo. Woody Hayes had a genuine hate for “that team up north.” Late in the 1968 game, a 50-14 OSU rout, the Buckeyes went for two. Hayes was asked why. “Because they wouldn’t let me go for three,” he said. Michigan’s Bo Schembechler was a former Hayes assistant who went 5-4-1 against his mentor from 1969 to 1978. We might have a modern-day coaching parallel: Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh against Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. Time will tell. The two fierce rivals have an equally loyal fan base. When 10-year-old Ivan Applin needed heart surgery in Michigan, the Toledo resident was afraid the doctors “were going to make his heart love Michigan instead of Ohio State.” Doctors assured the boy his heart would not be trifled with.
      1. Alabama-Auburn
      College Football RivalriesThe Iron Bowl hosts the country’s best in-state rivalry. The teams began play in 1893 and Alabama owns a 43-35-1 series lead. The two most memorable games were Auburn upsets. In 2013, top-ranked Alabama attempted a 57-yard field goal with one second left in a tie game. Auburn’s Chris Davis fielded it nine yards deep in the end zone, then sprinted past the lumbering Tide field goal unit for a shocking 34-28 victory. Then there was “Punt, ’Bama, Punt” in 1972. Leading 16-0 in the fourth quarter, Alabama lost the game when two of its blocked punts were returned for touchdowns in a 17-16 final.
      1. Army-Navy
      These two teams rarely contend for national honors, but don’t call this game irrelevant. Since 1890, the series has produced five Heisman Trophy winners and a slew of Hall of Famers. The teams have clashed 115 times; Navy leads the series, 59-49-7. For pure national pride, this rivalry is untouchable. Pride, competition and patriotism rule.
      1. Florida-Georgia
      College Football RivalriesAs dawn breaks in Jacksonville, Florida and Georgia fans break out the Bloody Marys to kick off “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” Then the taunts begin. “Why does the St. Johns River flow north?” a Florida fan asks. “Because Georgia sucks.” Georgia fans counter with “Lindsay Scott.” The Bulldogs dominated this unpredictable series during the Vince Dooley era, but Steve Spurrier brought the Gators some swagger and victories in the 1990s. These rivals rarely agree. Georgia counts a 1904 game it won, while Florida claims its football program didn’t begin until 1906. It creates some lively debate over those Bloody Marys.
      1. Oklahoma-Texas
      For years, it was called the Red River Shootout, but 10 years ago it was renamed and is now called the more politically correct Red River Showdown. College Football RivalriesBy any name, this game has been bitterly contested since 1900 — seven years before Oklahoma was admitted to the Union. Sixty-seven times since The Associated Press poll began in 1936, at least one of the teams has come into the game ranked. The game has been played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas since 1932. Both teams’ locker rooms spill into a common corridor. Surprisingly, there have been no incidents; both teams prefer to settle their differences on the field.
      1. USC-Notre Dame
      Hands down, the nation’s top intersectional rivalry. It combines tradition, big names and the Jeweled Shillelagh. Each team can claim 11 national titles and seven Heisman Trophy winners. They have met 86 times since 1926; the Irish lead the series 45-36-5. In 1974 “the Comeback” showcased Anthony Davis, when USC overcame a 24-0 deficit late in the first half. Davis caught a touchdown pass with 10 seconds left before intermission, then opened the second half with a 102-yard kickoff return. That sparked a 35-point third quarter for USC and a 55-24 win. “That wasn’t very nice,” Notre Dame president Theodore Martin Hesburgh said afterward to USC coach John McKay, an Irish Catholic. “That’s what you get for hiring a Presbyterian,” McKay cracked, referring to Irish coach Ara Parseghian’s faith.
      1. Harvard-Yale
      It doesn’t have the sizzle of other rivalries, but this series crackles with tradition. The two teams have met 131 times since 1875 and have played annually since 1897. The most memorable game might have been Harvard’s 16-point rally in the game’s final 42 seconds to earn a tie in 1968. Smirked The Harvard Crimson the next day: “Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29.”
      1. Florida-Florida State
      College Football RivalriesIt took an act of the Florida Legislature to sanction this series, which began in 1958. Florida dominated for years, but that changed with the arrival of Bobby Bowden at Florida State in 1976. In the 1994 “Choke at Doak,” the Gators blew a 31-3 fourth-quarter lead and the Seminoles scored four touchdowns in a 31-31 tie. In 1996, FSU beat No. 1 Florida 24-21, but thanks to some timely upsets, the two teams met several weeks later for the national title. Florida won 52-20 in the rematch. In 1993, Warrick Dunn’s momentum-changing 79-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown at Florida Field sent the Noles to the Orange Bowl, where they would win their first national title. After that play, Dunn said, “you could hear a pin drop in that place.”
      1. USC-UCLA
      The two Los Angeles schools met for the first time in 1929 and play for the Victory Bell. Since the Pacific Coast Conference (the ancestor of the Pac-12) was formed in 1916, USC has won or shared 37 conference titles, while UCLA has won or shared 17. “Beating ’SC is not a matter of life and death,” UCLA coach Red Sanders said during the 1950s. “It’s more important than that.”
      1. Georgia-Georgia Tech
      A most underrated rivalry. Author Bill Cromartie’s 2002 book, “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate,” is an appropriate title for this series, which began in 1893. The Bulldogs own a 64-40-5 series advantage against their nearby rival.

      ___________

      Did we miss any? Tell us who and why you think they deserve to be among the top 10 college football rivalries of all time. And be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this season for a steady stream of sports rivalry news and smack talk!