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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.

      Longhorns Beat Oklahoma; Still Suck

      [caption id="attachment_1312" align="aligncenter" width="474"]Texas Longhorns Texas shocked Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry Saturday, but all that did was raise the question: Where was that performance against everyone else? Smack Zone illustration: Steve Hill.[/caption] OK, we'll own it. We were wrong about the outcome of the Red River Rivalry. We incorrectly wrote off the Texas Longhorns, and they came out Saturday and put it on the Oklahoma Sooners, 24-17. Good job, Longhorns. You deserved to win and you can bask in the glory of another upset of your biggest rival. Too bad you still suck. What? You won, sure. Congratulations. You're 2-4, 1-2 in the Big 12. You still lost to Notre Dame and Texas Christian by a combined score of 88-10. Yes, Coach Charlie Strong body-surfed his way out of the Texas State Fairground Saturday, and his players could congratulate themselves for "winning one for Coach." That can work -- once or twice. College football is great because occasionally, the young men who strap it on can get motivated to play above their collective ability and shock the world. In the long run, though, talent defeats motivation. That's how the Longhorns used to win: They had better players than the other guys. Now? Not so much. Oh, and here is the bottom line when it comes to the Red River Rivalry: As long as victories by Texas are considered "upsets," the Longhorns are a long way away from their former national prominence.      

      Where the Hell is the Red River, Anyway?

      [caption id="attachment_1298" align="aligncenter" width="474"]Texas-Oklahoma Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops pretty much eats the Longhorns for dinner. Smack Apparel illustration: Steve Hill.[/caption] By Erez Ladetzky, Smack Zone Contributor Three words that get two states’ collective blood boiling: Red River Rivalry. This weekend marks the 110th edition of this matchup between Oklahoma and Texas. In its glory years, this game used to decide who won the Big 12. Now, it is just another game between two schools that hate each other. Texas is to blame for that, considering how bad they have become this year. And don’t get us started with the name of the game, “Red River Rivalry.” I mean, Red River? Really? How many people in this country know where the Red River is? Or even care about it? At least make it a cool name. Florida and Georgia play in “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” Now that’s a game worth going to! It’s not even the only Red River in the world. C’mon man! This rivalry has seen both teams go on long winning streaks. Texas went on a six-game winning streak in the ‘30s and an eight game streak in the ‘40s. Oklahoma won six in a row in the ‘50s and five in a row in the ‘70s. Texas has the all-time edge with a 60-44-5 record against Oklahoma. Superstar players used to play in this game. Not anymore. These teams now don’t have the caliber of players they used to. Oklahoma had Adrian Peterson, Mark Clayton, Keith Jackson, Gerald McCoy, Lee Roy Selmon and Roy Williams. Texas had players such as Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell, Vince Young, Stanley Richard and Bryant Westbrook. Now, outside of Texas and Oklahoma – or the Red River valley, whatever and wherever that is -- this is simply another game on the schedule. There will be no championship implications. These teams definitely hate each other still, but it just doesn’t have the juice it used to. Hopefully, one day, it gets back to being one of the top games of the year. But that day is not Saturday.

      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]  

      The 10 Most-Heated NHL Rivalries

      10 Hottest NHL RivalriesBy Bob D’Angelo, Smack Zone Contributor The NHL season is back, and that means the renewal of some intense rivalries. Some are as old as the National Hockey League itself, while others have become more prominent over the past few years. Here is a look at 10 of the top rivalries in NHL history: Canadiens vs. Bruins — Mark your calendar for Saturday. The NHL’s most contentious rivalry resumes when Montreal travels to Boston to face the Bruins. Not only are these teams regular-season rivals, meeting for the first time on December 8, 1924. They also have clashed 34 times in the playoffs, beginning in 1929. Throw in the fact that they are two of the Original Six teams, with passionate, provincial fan bases, and that makes for a bubbling, boiling feud. The Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup a record 24 times, which makes them the New York Yankees of hockey, or more ironically, the Boston Celtics of hockey. Take your pick. The Bruins have won the Cup six times. Between 1965 and 1979, either the Canadiens or Bruins (and on two occasions, both) appeared in all but one Stanley Cup Finals. Montreal won Lord Stanley’s Cup 10 times, while Boston won twice. The Canadiens swept the series in 1977 and won in six games the following season. There have been plenty of on-ice incidents, but two stand out. After all, how many players have had a riot named after them? On March 13, 1955, Hal Laycoe high-sticked Maurice Richard, and the “Rocket” retaliated by trampling Laycoe and slugging a linesman. He was nearly arrested by the Boston police, and would be suspended for the rest of the season and playoffs by NHL president Clarence Campbell. When Campbell appeared at the Montreal Forum on March 17 — the Canadiens’ first game after the suspension was announced — for a March 17 game, the partisan fans rioted. Smoke bombs and property damage exceeding $100,000 resulted in 37 injuries and more than 100 arrests. On March 8, 2011, Zdeno Chara’s late hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty resulted in a neck injury for the Canadiens player. Pacioretty suffered a concussion when Chara rode him into the boards and shoved his head into a stanchion. Pacioretty suffered a concussion and a fractured vertebra. Some good did result, as the NHL mandated that stanchions be replaced with curved glass to lessen the blow. Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs — It’s the oldest rivalry in pro hockey and even predates the NHL. The teams first met on December 26, 1917. Nearly 800 games later, the Canadiens lead the series 389-314-88-8 (including the playoffs) and have met in the postseason 15 times, including five times in the Stanley Cup Finals. Interestingly, the Leafs have won three of those finals, but the last time came in 1967 and the two teams have not met in the postseason since 1979. Even though the rivalry has cooled off on the ice, it has not between the two cities. On the one hand, there is Old World, French-speaking Montreal. At the other end of the spectrum is cosmopolitan, English-speaking Toronto. Quebec vs. Ontario. Sparks are inevitable. Rangers vs. Devils – It’s the battle of the Hudson River. The two teams play their home games just 10 miles apart from one another, but in those respective fan bases, it might as well be thousands of miles. Name another NHL rivalry featured in a TV sitcom. The Rangers-Devils series was satirized during “The Face Painter” episode of “Seinfeld,” when a friend of Jerry’s — a hardcore Devils fan — paints his face red for a playoff game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The most memorable series took place in back-to-back years. The 1994 Eastern Conference Finals saw the Rangers advance when Stephane Mattheau scored in double overtime in Game 7. New York went on to win the Stanley Cup. The roles were reversed the following year, as the Devils won Game 7 of the Eastern finals and went on to capture Lord Stanley’s cup. Penguins vs. Capitals — These two teams don’t like each other. In February, a fight on the ice spilled inside the Pittsburgh bench. There is a memorable photo of Pengins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury swatting Capitals winger Joel Ward with his glove. There also is the heated competition between Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin. Overhyped, perhaps, but a real rivalry nonetheless between two of the NHL’s marquee players, who clearly don’t like one another. Before that, in 1992, the Penguins won their second Stanley Cup, rallying from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat Washington in seven games in the first round of the playoffs. n 2009, the Penguins came back from a 2-0 series hole to win and Eastern Conference semifinal series in seven games. Oilers vs. Flames — Provincialism is big in hockey, and Edmonton and Calgary is Western Canada’s version of Montreal-Toronto. It’s the battle of Alberta, and it began when the Flames moved from Atlanta to Calgary in 1980. The previous year, the Oilers joined the NHL from the World Hockey Association. The two teams were the cream of the Campbell Conference. One or the other was in the Stanley Cup Finals from 1983 to 1990. The Oilers won five Cups during that period and the Flames won one. Red Wings vs. Avalanche — Fists flew and blood spilled when these two teams got together, particularly for a decade beginning in the mid-1990s. The two teams combined for five Stanley Cup titles in a seven-year span (1996-2002) — three for Detroit and two for Colorado. There were no pranks pulled on April Fools’ Day in 1998, when both teams were whistled for 228 minutes in penalties during Detroit’s 2-0 win. It also featured a battle of the goalies, as Colorado’s Patrick Roy traded punches with Detroit’s Chris Osgood. On March 26, 1997, Detroit’s Darren McCarty blindsided Claude Lemieux late in the first period, sparking a brawl that yielded 18 fighting majors. McCarty bloodied Lemieux’s face and then dragged him along the ice for good measure. McCarty received  a double roughing minor, but scored the game-winning goal in overtime. Rangers vs. Islanders — The distance between the two teams lessens this season as the Islanders move from Nassau Coliseum to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. That won’t dampen the rivalry between these two metropolitan New York hockey franchises. The Rangers lead the regular-season series 123-110-19, but the Islanders own a 20-19 advantage in the postseason. The teams met each year in the postseason from 1981 to 1984, with the Islanders prevailing each time. The Islanders would win three Stanley Cups during that span. Blackhawks vs. Canucks — There is always a war of words between these two teams, but also some excellent hockey. Ryan Kesler once referred to Andrew Ladd as a coward. Dave Bolland has called the Sedin twins “sisters.” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault retorted that Bolland “has an IQ the size of bird seed and a face only a mother can love.” The 2009 second-round playoff series, won by the Blackhawks in six games, was particularly intense. In Game 2 alone, there were 102 penalty minutes, including four game misconducts, six roughing calls, a slashing penalty and a cross-checking infraction. Red Wings-Maple Leafs — It’s an Original Six rivalry, and it’s been called “The Battle of the Windsor Corridor.” It’s one of the longest and colorful rivalries in the NHL. Both teams have won 11 Stanley Cups. This rivalry may have been rekindled with the defection of coach Mike Babcock, who led Detroit for 10 years and won a pair of Stanley Cups. But he signed an eight-year, $50 million contract to coach the Leafs. Rangers vs. Flyers — New York and Philadelphia have been rivals since the 1770s, so it’s only natural that the Rangers and Flyers would be rivals. IT’s just like football (Giants vs. Eagles), basketball (Knicks vs. 76ers) and baseball (Mets vs. Phillies). Both teams are in the same division. Beginning in 1979, they played each other in the playoffs seven times over the next nine seasons. On October 26, 1987, the Flyers’ Dave Brown cross-checked New York’s Tomas Sandstrom in the face, breaking his jaw and giving him a concussion.