2019 Iron Bowl Picks for Alabama vs. Auburn with Odds and Predictions
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers, Saturday November 30, 3:30 p.m. ET
This is always a huge game. The combatants in the Iron Bowl truly hate each other, and the game always seems to find a way to be entertaining and often a little crazy. This year, though, the stakes aren't quite as high as they typically are, as a berth in the SEC Championship Game is not on the line here. Auburn is at 4-3 in the conference, so they are just playing for pride and a better bowl game at this point. Alabama, meanwhile, lost that game to LSU, and that has doomed their chances. With a win and an LSU loss, they would have the same 7-1 conference record, but the head-to-head loss would be the difference. So, this game matters because it always matters, but not quite like it could. Alabama still has very high stakes, though. They are outside of the playoff picture right now and would need some help to get into it. But a dominating win over a Top 15 team on the road would certainly help their cause.
Alabama at Auburn Betting Storylines
We can't look at this game without looking at who isn't here. Alabama has dealt with injuries that would crush any other program. Most relevant, of course, is the season-ending injury to Tua Tagovailoa. So much of the talk about this game as a result is about new QB Mac Jones and his readiness for what is unquestionably the biggest stage he has ever played on. I'm not sure it needs to be a major concern. Sure, Tua is as blue chip as a recruit can get, while Jones was a three star who Alabama grabbed after he had originally committed to Kentucky. But he's a redshirt sophomore, so this is his third year around the program. And while this is an Auburn defensive line that is much better than any he has seen, he has looked very good so far and has the same ridiculous completion rate in his play - 71.4 percent - that Tagovailoa has on the season. He's smart, he's careful, and he has a ridiculously talented group of receivers to work with. The story isn't Jones. It is whether the offensive line can protect him in the face of serious pressure. The Tigers are going to try to slow down running back Najee Harris, who has gotten hot of late. Teams have been able to run on Auburn reasonably effectively, though. Alabama has that potential, and if they can do so they can give Jones the time and the room he needs to do enough here.
The bigger concern at quarterback here has to be Auburn's Bo Nix, not Jones. Nix is a wildly talented freshman, and the future is bright. And he has been very good at times, but his four worst games have come against Oregon, LSU, Florida and Georgia. Not coincidentally, those are the four toughest teams Nix has faced. He has yet to have a statement game against a big team, and this is the biggest stage he will play on this year. It's tough to be hugely optimistic. This is not the Alabama defense that we are used to, but it still ranks in the Top 10 in points allowed and 13th in passing yards allowed. They are going to have some tricks up their sleeve for Nix, and it is hard to have total faith that Nix can counter them without issues.
Alabama at Auburn Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Alabama favored by 3.5 points, and it has stayed stable at that level through the first days of action. More than 70 percent of bets have been on the Tide, so we could certainly see some movement closer to game. The fact it hasn't moved yet suggests that some sharp money has been on the Tigers. The total opened at 50 points and has again remained stable at that level.
The Tide are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games in November. They have not done a good job of carrying momentum forward, though - they are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games following a game in which they scored 40 or more points. Auburn is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games at home and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 overall. The home team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings of these teams. Alabama is 2-5 ATS in their last seven trips to Auburn.
Alabama at Auburn Predictions and Picks
It doesn't always happen, but this week I was able to think about the games on the card before I saw the initial spreads. In my mind, I was expecting to see Alabama favored by something like 6.5 points, and I would have liked the Tide at less than a touchdown quite comfortably. So, this line is a joy. Alabama certainly has vulnerabilities that we haven't seen in recent years, but they are still much deeper and more talented than Auburn, and I have much more faith in their coaching. The Tide are the comfortable pick against the spread.
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