Auburn Tigers-Alabama Crimson Tide Picks Against the Spread

SportsLine analyst Josh Nagel breaks down the annual Iron Bowl on Saturday between top-ranked Alabama and upstart Auburn. Here is a preview and ATS selection.

 

AUBURN TIGERS AT ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (-17.5, O/U 47), Sat., 3:30 p.m. ET

Auburn's longshot SEC title and playoff hopes were buried with a loss to Georgia a couple weeks ago, but the Tigers still have plenty to play for Saturday against rival Alabama.

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Auburn +900 O/U 47
Alabama -1375 -20.5
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C
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AUBURN
BAMA
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The top-ranked Crimson Tide (11-0, 7-0) have their berth in the SEC title game locked up, and could probably even survive a loss in the Iron Bowl when it comes to consideration for the four-team playoff.

Even so, a letdown seems unlikely given coach Nick Saban's obsession with perfection and the possibility of finishing off an undefeated regular season with a win over Auburn.

However, the Tigers (8-3, 5-2) could author the signature victory in a somewhat uneven season with a colossal upset. 

JOSH NAGEL'S TAKE

In a bit of an about-face for a Gus Malzahn-coached team, solid defense has been the strength of this Auburn team while it has mostly struggled for offensive consistency.

The Tigers have been particularly effective on the defensive line, stifling the power run game of clubs like Clemson, LSU and Arkansas and getting off the field in key situations.

They have a had a bit of a revolving door at quarterback. Sean White emerged from what had been a three-player rotation in the early going, but a shoulder injury kept him out last week and he is questionable for Saturday.

Fellow dual-threats Jeremy Johnson and John Frankiin are explosive playmakers, but White probably has the best overall skill set.

Although most of Alabama?s headlines stem from a defense that has allowed just 30 points in its last five games combined, its prolific offense has been overlooked.

Jalen Hurts has turned into one of the best duel-threat QBS in the country, accounting for 2,971 combined passing and rushing yards and 30 total touchdowns. ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley are a dangerous duo at wideout, as each has more than 600 yards and seven touchdowns.

LINE MOVEMENT

This line opened at Alabama -17 in most markets and has held steady in most markets, give or take the half-point hook.

Although bettors have been piling on Alabama all season no matter the number, Bookmaker.eu spokesman Scott Cooley said this line has drawn two-way action.

"Shockingly, we?ve actually taken some good money on the underdog in this matchup," he said. "I'm not sure we'll see a lot of sharp action on this come the weekend, so the number might push back upward."

LAST WEEK

Both teams warmed up for the Iron Bowl with a glorified scrimmage against FCS opponents in games that went unlined at most sportsbooks.

Auburn defeated Alabama A&M 55-0, while Alabama beat Chattanooga 31-3 in something of a sluggish performance.

SPORTSLINE EXPERTS

SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh?s projection model has a lean on the spread outcome of this game. Get his and all other SportsLine expert picks by clicking here.

SELECTION

Malzahn is reputed for finding ways to move the ball even against the most daunting of SEC defensive clubs, while Alabama can generate scoring on both sides of the ball.

Although conventional wisdom suggests the defenses should dominate this matchup, I'm anticipating some explosive offensive plays from both clubs.

Considering the probability of scores coming from the defense and special teams as well, and I think this game is headed Over the posted total.