Prelude to the Iron Bowl: Tide and Tigers in 2015

The Notorious PAB is back this week with a statistical comparison of Alabama and Auburn versus their common opponents this season.  Enjoy!


Leading up to the ever-intense, always-interesting Iron Bowl, we’ll look at how the Crimson Tide and the Tigers fared against six common opponents: the Georgia Bulldogs from the SEC East and all SEC West teams.

Personal aside… this writer grew up in Indiana, steeped in:

  • The late and lamented one-class high school state basketball tournament;
  • Fighting Irish vs. Boilermakers in football (once a very competitive series);
  • Hoosiers vs. Boilermakers in Big Ten basketball, when Bobby Knight and Gene Keady stalked the sidelines and won a lot of games;
  • The Old Oaken Bucket Game – IU vs. Purdue at the end of every football season; and
  • Ohio State / Michigan – the best, but by no means the only, Big 10 gridiron rivalry.

At one point, I left my native state and moved to The Heart of Dixie, lived in Birmingham, and came to understand Alabama football and the SEC much better. My wife, an Auburn alumna, had been telling me for years how great SEC football is, but I held to my Big 10 heritage and replied “We’ll see.” I hung on to my opinion despite being a witness to history: I was at Legion Field on November 28, 1981, when the Tide bested Auburn, 28-17, to give Bear Bryant his record 315th victory.

Well, Bama Lighthouse readers, during my stay in The Magic City I was converted. I am here to testify. Whenever college football rivalries are discussed, I tell people that nothing can exceed Alabama and Auburn. Nothing. For many Alabamians, the quality, perhaps the essence, of daily life depends on the outcome. Babies are swaddled in Tide or Tigers colors in the cradle, their allegiances set for life. Personal and business relationships are strained. It would all be disturbingly crazy if it weren’t so darned much fun. War Eagle! Roll Tide!

I think it’s incorrect to state “losing is worse than death,” but “losing the Iron Bowl guarantees one very unhappy year” is completely accurate. Fortunately, I was never required to declare for either side. When I explained that I’m from Big 10 country, the response was always a sad smile, a slight nodding of the head and a gentle, “Well, bless your heart.”

Auburn and Alabama vs. Common Opponent Georgia

Auburn v Georgia       11/14         Home           13-20                       LOSS

This was very little to commend either offense in this game. The game was tied 10-10 at the end of the third quarter. Georgia’s margin of victory was produced by a 53-yard punt return.

Bama v Georgia           10/3           Away           38-10                       WIN

Thanks to one big run, the Bulldogs’ running game appeared to do quite well in the game: 193 net yards (Bama 189), 7 rushing first downs (6) and 5.1 net yards/rush (4.0). The key to Bama’s defensive effort against the Bulldogs in Athens was shutting down Georgia’s passing attack. The Bulldogs generated 11 completions in 31 attempts (a meager 35.5%), scored zero TDs, and suffered 3 INTs.

Games vs. SEC West Opponents – Scoring and Scoring Defense

Auburn Tigers : Record 1-4

LSU                                          Away                        21-45                       LOSS

Mississippi State                 Home                      9-17                          LOSS

Arkansas                                 Away                        46-54                       LOSS (4 OT)

Ole Miss                                  Home                      19-27                       LOSS

Texas A&M                             Away                        26-10                       WIN

Scored: 121; 24.2 ppg avg     Allowed: 153; 30.6 ppg avg  Margin: -32; -6.4 ppg avg

Bama : Record 4-1

Ole Miss                                   Home                      37-43                       LOSS

Arkansas                                  Home                      27-14                       WIN

Texas A&M                               Away                        41-23                       WIN

LSU                                            Home                      30-16                       WIN

Mississippi State                   Away                        31-6                          WIN

Scored: 166; 33.2 ppg avg     Allowed: 102; 20.4 ppg avg  Margin: +64; +12.8 ppg avg

Bama and Auburn – SEC West Offensive and Defensive Stats

The Iron Bowl is the last game of the season and each team in the SEC West plays every other team in the division, so SEC West stats to date provide us with a solid Bama / Auburn comparison.


The Tide ranks #5 in the SEC West in total offense; Auburn is #7.   For those categories in which Auburn leads, the figures are in bold.

Alabama                                Auburn

Total yards:                                       4591                                        4147

Yards / game:                                     417                                          377

Passing yards:                                   2403                                        1937

Passing yards / game:                     218.5                                       176.1

Rushing yards:                                   2188                                        2210

Rushing yards / game:                    198.9                                       200.9

Points:                                                    385                                          313

Touchdowns:                                          41                                            34

Points / game:                                      35.0                                         28.5

= =   = =

Completion rate:                              66.6% (225/338)                     54.7% (128/234)

Yards / attempt:                                   7.1                                           7.3

Touchdowns:                                       15 (37%)                                 9 (26%)

Interceptions:                                       10                                            9

= = = =

Rushing attempts:                           453                                          494

Yards / attempt:                               4.8                                           4.5

Touchdowns:                                   26 (63%)                                 25 (74%)

= = = =

First downs:                                      241                                          222

By passing:                                        118 (49%)                               128 (57%)

By rushing:                                        107 (44%)                               86 (42%)

By penalty:                                        16 (7%)                                     8 (4%)

3rd down efficiency:                         36% (55/152)                          43% (65/151)

4th down efficiency:                         45% (9/20)                              60% (6/10)

Penalties:                                          69 for 645 yards                    51 for 496 yards

= = = =

Field goals:                                       14/22 (63.6%)                         20/23 (87.0%)

Longest FG:                                       55 yards                                 56 yards

PAT kicks:                                           47/47 (100%)                          35/35 (100%)


Sacks:                                                 38                                            17

Yards lost to sacks:                      227                                          122

Interceptions:                                   15                                            13

INT return yards:                           422                                          138

TDs from interceptions:                4                                              1

Fumbles recovered:                         7                                              7

Common SEC West Opponents: Auburn 1-4 / Bama 4-1

Auburn      9/19       LSU       Away          21-45                       LOSS

Bama         11/7       LSU        Home         30-16                       WIN

Bama: +14                 Auburn: -24                            Aggregate for Bama: +38


Auburn      9/26   Mississippi State   Home        9-17         LOSS

Bama         11/14    Mississippi State   Away       31-6           WIN

Bama: +25                 Auburn: -8                              Aggregate for Bama: +33    


Auburn     10/24    Arkansas                Away        46-54       LOSS (4 OT)

Bama         10/10    Arkansas               Home        27-14       WIN

Bama: +13                 Auburn: -8                              Aggregate for Bama: +21


Auburn      10/31    Ole Miss                Home          19-27         LOSS

Bama          9/19       Ole Miss              Home          37-43         LOSS

Bama: -6                    Auburn: -8                              Aggregate for Bama: +2

The very similar game margins in losses to Ole Miss do not tell the complete story.

The Ole Miss Rebels win over Bama came in the Tide’s first SEC West contest of the season and is the Tide’s only loss. 24 of the Rebels 43 points (56%) came from Bama turnovers, including three pick-six INTs.   Bama trailed 30-17 at the end of the third quarter and outscored the Rebels 20-13 in the final period.   If anyone wants to dispute that turnovers matter in top-level football competition, this game stands as compelling evidence to the contrary.

The Auburn / Ole Miss game saw the Tigers trailing 20-19 in the fourth quarter. The Rebels scored a touchdown and then stopped the Tigers on two possessions, including a first-and-goal at the 3-yard line. It was a competitive game, certainly, but Auburn’s offense could not deliver late in the game when trailing by 8.


Auburn          11/7    Texas A&M             Away            26-10             WIN

Bama           10/17    Texas A&M            Away             41-23             WIN

Bama: +18                 Auburn: +16                           Aggregate: Bama +2

Bama holds a big edge in aggregate margin: +96 points over 5 games, an average of +19.2 ppg.  If we concede 16 points to Auburn, the arithmetic points to Bama scoring in the high-30s.

Auburn at Home and Bama on the Road

The Iron Bowl will be played in Jordan-Hare Stadium this season, so let’s look at how Auburn has fared at The Loveliest Village on the Plains and how the Tide has done away from the friendly confines (tip of the hat to Wrigley Field) of Bryant-Denny Stadium. We’ll look at SEC contests exclusively, believing that not much can be gleaned from non-conference games.

Auburn at Home : Record 0-3

Mississippi State        9-17      LOSS

Ole Miss                       19-27     LOSS

Georgia                         13-20     LOSS

Scored: 41; 13.7 ppg avg              Allowed: 64; 21.3 ppg avg           Margin: -23; -7.6 ppg avg

Bama on the Road : 3-0

Georgia                         38-10     WIN

Texas A&M                  41-23     WIN

Mississippi State       31-6        WIN

Scored: 110; 36.7 ppg avg           Allowed: 39; 13.0 ppg avg           Margin: +71;   +23.7 ppg avg

Captain Obvious will now step in and give this profound assessment: these results do not bode well for the Tigers. No way, no how.   Auburn is winless at Jordan-Hare while – in the starkest of contrasts – Bama is undefeated playing away from The Capstone.   An SEC team that can’t find a way to protect its home field in any way, shape or form soon finds itself in a world of hurt. On November 28, “soon” will most likely translate into “in 60 minutes or less.”

Auburn’s at-home scoring average is 13.7 ppg; Bama has allowed an average of 13.0 ppg on the road.   So don’t be too surprised if the Tigers put up two TDs or less in the Iron Bowl. If we look at average game margin, Bama comes out way ahead: 23.7 ppg compared to -7.6 ppg for the Tigers.   Might the Tide put forth a strong offensive effort and win the Iron Bowl with a score in the 42-14 range?


W2W4 – Iron Bowl 2015

The 2015 version of the Iron Bowl features two teams going in opposite directions.  While Alabama continues ascending towards another SEC Championship and another berth in the College Football Playoffs, Auburn seems to be circling the bowl as they spiral downwards to a 7th place finish in the SEC West.  This season the Tiger family I’ve talked to seems to have inadvertently wandered onto a tilt-a-whirl ride and now they are begging for the ride to finally come to a stop so that they can just go somewhere to throw up.

In watching the Tigers this season, it does appear that they’ve gotten better since the Kentucky game as they put up a good fight against Ole Miss and Georgia and even beat the Texas A&M Aggies in college station.  The secret to their success has been to abandon any semblance of a passing game and just hand the football off to anyone in the backfield.  As it happens, Alabama sports the #2 ranked rushing defense in the country.  Advantage Bama!

From the Alabama perspective, the Tide comes into this game on a roll.  The Tide offense gashed LSU & Mississippi State while the Bama defense ripped the Heisman out of Leonard Fournette’s hands and then stuck it in a place that Dak Prescott can’t quite reach.  It’s been a few past few weeks if you are a Bama fan and more fun appears to be on the horizon.  Here’s what we are watching for this week…

Alabama on Offense

Mississippi State may have given future Tide opponents the blue prints to stifling the Alabama running game.  Basically, the Bulldogs committed 7, 8 and 9 men in the box in an effort to stop the beast that is Derrick Henry before he could get those long strides churning.  Of course, as we all found out (and as we predicted here in the W2W4) when you crease that kind of pressure then big plays are going to happen and that’s exactly what happened to the Bulldogs.  A 60 yard pass to Ridley.  74 yard run by Henry.  Then a 65 yard run by Henry.  Basically, when you commit those kinds of numbers to the line of scrimmage, you are leaving yourself open for the big play.

Why is this relevant?  In watching the Auburn game against Georgia, new defensive demi-god Will Muschamp committed 8 men into the box repeatedly, opening up several deep shot opportunities that the Dawgs couldn’t cash in.   You may recall the last time Alabama faced a Will Muschamp defense but, if you don’t here are some numbers to jog your memory:  Blake Sims passes for 445 yards.  Kenyan Drake 87 yard TD.  Amari Cooper 79 yard touchdown.  Henry averaged nearly 6 yards per carry.  And that Florida defense was a MUCH better defense than this year’s Auburn squad.

In watching the Mississippi State game, the Tide line narrowly missed opening holes for touchdown runs on four other occasions so it’s hard to see how Auburn will be able to completely contain the Tide running game.  Yes, there will be negative plays as the Tigers love to slant their defensive line.  When they guess right, it’s deadly effective.  When they guess wrong, backside runs carve them up like a Thanksgiving turkey.  It will be fascinating to see how Auburn attempts to contain both the run and the big plays in the passing game.  Here’s what else we’ll be watching for after studying the Georgia game….

Soft Cell: There should be no “tainted love” for Alabama’s slot receivers against Auburn as they play way, way off the slots.  Screens, hitches, curls and slants should be very effective against the Tigers.  Basically, they crowd the line of scrimmage with 8 defenders but if the play is a pass, they scramble back into a zone defense.  The two corners and the safety typically play off since they have no help from one of the safeties.

Tush Push:  Auburn slants their line quite a bit so it’s not uncommon to see Montravious Adams (1) and Devaroe Lawrence (94) slamming deep into the backfield making interior runs very difficult to pull off.  These two were also extremely effective up the middle in short yardage situations so working the edges in short yardage should be the order of the day.

Reading is Fundamental:  Auburn hasn’t defended the zone read at all this year so don’t be surprised if you see Jake Coker keep a couple of zone reads for good yardage.  Auburn’s run fits are extremely sound as they are well schooled in getting to the interior gaps to stop the run.  However, this opens up the flanks to the zone reads and to other plays like…

Fly Guys:  If ever there was an opponent begging to be gashed by the fly sweeps, it’s Auburn.  Time and time again whether it’s Louisville, Jacksonville State or Georgia, they consistently give up the outside runs for big yardage.  Look for the flip passes to Ardarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley to be wildly effective.  In fact, don’t be surprised if you see Stewart running some wildcat or something odd like that.  Auburn is just so bad at stopping the zone read and the outside runs.  Incidentally, if it’s at all humanly possible for Kenyan Drake to play (we hear he’s been practicing this week), then this is the type of game he was made for.

Big Time:  With AU crowding the box, look for Alabama to take to the air with some deep shots on 1st downs.  Georgia had numerous 1 on 1 opportunities here but failed to convert.  Look for Bama to go for the jugular early and often.

Backfield in Motion:  With Auburn slanting their line, look for Bama’s line to escort them in that direction while their TEs and FBs crack back on the end to open up the backside running game.  There are big gainers to be had here.

The Play is the Thing:  Auburn blew coverages against tight ends and fullbacks on play action.  Nysewander and/or OJ Howard could have a few big catches.

Goal Line:  Auburn plays straight man to man coverage on the outsides and then crowds everyone else at the line of scrimmage in goal line situations.  Slants to the receivers are open but so are any running plays to the outside.  UGA tried the middle of the Auburn line three times at the goal line, turning the ball over on downs.  The next time they were down there, they ran a fly sweep and cruised into the end zone.

Spread ‘Em:  Auburn’s run defense seems much more susceptible when it is spread out so look for Alabama to be in the spread formation much of Saturday afternoon.  Carl Lawson (55) is consistently hell bent on getting up the field so look for some running plays to target his side of the football field as he leaves his running lane open.

In Two Deep:  Auburn probably plays more zone than most teams and they keep their safeties in two deep much of the time.  With the LBs concentrating on their run fits, typically the area right behind them (but in front of the safeties) is wide open.


  • Many of my notes read something like, “Fly sweep turns the corner AGAIN.” Can’t overemphasize this enough – Auburn hasn’t been able to defend this all year long.  Alabama really needs to concentrate on working over the perimeter of the Tiger defense this week.
  • Auburn read one screen very well but gave up chunk yardage against screens at other times. Quick screens to the slot receiver were available as they were typically uncovered, leaving the outside wide receiver to block the one corner on that side of the field.
  • Do not be surprised if Henry struggles between the tackles as AU looks very strong there. Alabama will have to take advantage of their opportunities for big plays down the field in order to loosen up the 8 man box.
  • One very interesting story is that of Kenyan Drake. Dude broke his freaking arm two weeks ago against Mississippi State but was back at practice (doing individual drills) this week.  The fact that he’s back at practice suggests he’ll play Saturday.  If that happens, we are concerned about 1) ball security and 2) the sincere lack of faith the staff has in Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris.  If Drake can’t play, neither Scarborough nor Harris is a viable “fly sweep” option so we wonder if they’ll give that role to someone other than Ridley or Stewart.
  • Remember these Auburn defensive rankings: 83rd in total defense, 82nd against the pass, 82nd against the run and 116th in third down defense.  Auburn’s defensive rankings are actually worse this year than they were in 2014.

Alabama on Defense

Jeremy Johnson finished the Georgia game 14/22 for 61 yards.  Folks, that’s a measly 2.8 yards per attempt.  Sean White went 1/5 for 1 yard in that game so you can pretty much surmise why Auburn lost to UGA.  The Tigers pounded out 213 yards on the ground against Georgia and they rushed the ball 52 times versus only 17 passes against Texas A&M so running the football is what they desperately desire to do.  Auburn is actually really good at it, too, as they actually nationally rank one spot ahead of Alabama in average rushing yardage per game this season.  So, the Alabama game plan should be simple:  stop the run & just rush four to allow as many defenders as possible the opportunity to catch one of Johnson’s wayward footballs.

While Auburn’s strength is running the football, their usual threat of a running quarterback isn’t quite as threatening this season.  At 6’5, 240 lbs, Johnson has the type of build you’d want to have for a running quarterback.  However, Johnson runs the football with the commitment of a politician and the heart of the Tin Man so Alabama’s defensive keys should be simplified this year.  As usual, if you follow the pulling guards or follow the H-Back then they will lead you to the football 99% of the time.  While there’s lots and lots of “window dressing” in the backfield, the line and the H-Backs always tell the true story.  And, with Alabama’s dominant front four, we think the Tide defenders should be able to sift thru the garbage and find the ball easily.  Sure, Auburn will “run another trick play, b-tch,” as Scott Cochran loves to say and, yes, they will take a shot or two down the field.  But, this season the Gus Bus appears to be running on four flat tires and it will be difficult to hang 6 on the Tide, let alone 60.  Here’s what to watch for when Alabama is on defense…

Mystify Me:  In watching Auburn this season, they time and the manner Gus changes out his quarterbacks is completely mystifying.  Just as one of his QBs is finding his groove, Malzahn substitutes in the other QB and it all goes to hell in a hand basket.  This has happened against Kentucky, Ole Miss and Georgia and it leaves you wondering what on earth he and his staff is thinking.  Against Georgia, they asked a one legged Shaun White to roll to his left and throw on the run.  I mean, it honestly makes no sense whatsoever…

Short, Short Man:  EVERYTHING Johnson throws is behind the line of scrimmage and I mean EVERYTHING!  The times Johnson was asked to throw the ball down the field, he consistently missed high and wide and he exhibited poor footwork, poor mechanics and no belief in the routes whatsoever.  In fact, it appeared that the AU staff dialed up four different deep shots that Johnson bailed on and refused to throw the ball down the field.  10 of Johnson’s first 15 throws were screens and his downfield throws were way off the mark.  Stunning.

Follow the Leader:  Gus’ running schemes haven’t changed too much over the years and this year is no different.  Typically there’s going to be the threat of a fly sweep from different formations and lots and lots of motion, then they pull their guards and run the football down people’s throats.  However, about 85% of the time if can find Auburn’s H-Back (#27 – Cox and #36 – Pettway) then you can follow them to the football.  It’s uncanny how much Auburn leans on these guys as blockers and how predictable the runs are when they are in the game.  PS – Georgia blitzed heavily off the H-Back side of the formation with huge success.

Hello – Is it Me You’re Looking For?:  Auburn loves to leave defensive ends unblocked and, if you’ve been reading this blog or following the Vines on Twitter, you know that Alabama has learned to take advantage of this blocking scheme with devastating effect.  Basically, when the end realizes he’s unblocked, he launches an assault on the backfield, blowing up anything and everything he finds.  Sometimes, Auburn pulls a guard around – a la Texas A&M – for protection but the Tide defenders have shown us that they control the leverage and the power in those encounters.  Look for a big day from Jonathan Allen, Denzell Devall and Ryan Anderson.

Can’t Hurry Love:  If Auburn finds success with a running play, look for them to hurry back to the line of scrimmage to run it again and again until Alabama stops it.  If you see the Tigers hurry to the line of scrimmage and the QB doesn’t bark out any signals, it’s because they are running the previous play again.

Bounce House:  Jovon Robinson (29) is a stud and is the Tigers’ best running back.  Thankfully, he only gets a third of the carries.  Against Georgia, twice they ran the fly sweep to one side and then Robinson started up the middle and then bounced outside in the opposite direction of the fly sweep.  It’s a clever play as the defense typically misaligns too many defenders towards the fly sweep side of the field.  They even used Robinson on a bit of a fly sweep so edge containment will be huge.

Eye of the Wildcat:  Kerryon Johnson (21) runs a lot of wildcat formations for the Tigers (Note:  Isn’t Jeremy Johnson supposed to be a wildcat?) and he has yet to throw a pass from that formation.  Look for some trickeration from him in some manner this weekend.


  • Look for Alabama to play a ton of zone defense this weekend. Also, don’t look for many blitzes except for a few run blitzes at the H-Back’s side of the formation.
  • Auburn gave up quite a bit of pressure to Georgia’s front four, especially from their tackles. In passing downs, Tim Williams and Rashaan Evans should be able to introduce themselves to whoever the QB is taking the snaps.
  • Auburn’s one shot to win this game is to take a number of deep shots down the field. Johnson was extremely reluctant to throw the ball even 10 yards down the field and never, ever threw it more than 15 yards.  If White is in the game, it’s to get the ball vertically down the field.
  • Watch the fly sweep guy as often times they don’t even come close to the QB. Auburn doesn’t seem to use the little flip play so the sweep guy isn’t a threat unless they are running parallel with the QB.
  • At one point against Georgia, the Bulldogs had scored 17 points in the second half and the Auburn offense had generated a total of 15 yards in the same half.
  • Johnson pump faked three or four WR screens and then was asked to throw the ball down the field. He refused.
  • Don’t be surprised to see Rashaan Evans used as a spy this week.

Alabama on Special Teams

Cyrus Jones has certainly gotten the attention of all future Tide opponents with punt returns for touchdowns in his last two games and, happily enough, Auburn is ranked 67th in the country in covering punts.  Georgia actually scored the game winning TD off of a punt return so look for Alabama to win the field position battle here.

Alabama’s kick coverage team is outstanding, ranking 18th in the country in covering kicks.  However, Auburn is ranked 5th in the country in return yardage so something has to give here.  Each time that Adam Griffith pounds the ball into the end zone, high five your neighbor b/c it’s a big play.

The Tigers’ Daniel Carlson is ranked 2nd in the SEC in field goal percentage and he’s made FOUR kicks from beyond 50 yards.  Meanwhile, Adam Griffith’s hot streak of field goals still has him in the back of the pack in field goal percentage – he’s currently ranked 10th.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t much not to like in this match-up if you are an Alabama fan.  Auburn features a completely one dimensional attack and Alabama’s defense should absolutely devour the Tigers’ running game like it’s a Thanksgiving feast.  This will obviously put the Tigers in passing situations and they have shown absolutely no ability to throw the forward pass whatsoever.  So…

They favorite is usually the victor in these contests and this year should be no exception.  Unless Alabama has a sudden rash of injuries on offense or turns the ball over repeatedly, then Auburn should have a very, very, very difficult time scoring on Saturday.  But, thankfully, their tilt-a-whirl season will finally come to an end and they can begin to make their travel arrangements to the Birmingham Bowl…

Final Score:  Alabama 27    Auburn 12








The Iron Bowl 2015 – By the Numbers

Tthe Lighthouse staff is always up for new ideas to improve the site and improve the content for our ultra smart, savvy and sexy readers.  So this week, by request, the Bama Lighthouse is proud to announce a weekly “By the Numbers” segment to help prep you guys for the upcoming opponent!  We hope this segment will be a valuable tool for framing up the match-ups each week.

This week, Alabama travels down to Auburn to take on the Tigers.  For those of you travelling (sorry Auburn fans but this is meant to be friendly banter) to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, please follow these simple directions to the stadium if  you are travelling from north of Montgomery:  Travel south until you smell it, then go east until you step in it.  Then you are there – welcome to the Loveliest Pasture on the Plains!

We kid, we kid.  So, anyway, back to the numbers.  Here are the national rankings for each team’s offense, defense and special teams.  First, we’ll start with the offensive rankings.  Below, you’ll notice that Bama’s total offense, scoring offense and passing offense are much better than Auburn – no real surprise there.  However, even with Derrick Henry’s Heisman march, Alabama is actually ranked one spot below Auburn in rushing offense.  That was a little shocking.  One other note – Auburn converts their third downs at a much, much higher percentage than Alabama does (Alabama is woeful here) yet their Time of Possession stats are horrific while the Tide nationally owns this category once again.

National Offense Rankings

Alabama Auburn Notes
Offense Rankings
Total Offense 54 87
Scoring Offense 31 70  Bama 35.0 PPG, AU 28.5 PPG
Passing Offense 70 109
Rushing Offense 32 31 Interesting that AU’s run game is better
Red Zone TD% 58% 62%
Sacks Allowed 39 33
3rd Down Conversion 92 39 AU much better on converting 3rd downs
Time of Possession 17 97 Bama owns this category big time

National Defense Rankings

To no one’s surprise, Alabama’s defense is infinitely better than Auburn’s defense when you compare the two.  Frankly, when you look at how Auburn’s offense stacks up nationally as compared to their defense, the rankings for their defense are actually much, much worse.  In particular, look below at Auburn’s defense on third down – not good.

Defense Rankings Bama infinitely better on defense – shocking, I know
Total Defense 3 83
Scoring Defense 3 71  Bama 14.5 PPG, AU 27.2 PPG
Passing Defense 21 82
Rushing Defense 2 82 Derrick Henry is grinning right now
Red Zone TD% 48% 56%
Sacks 3 98
3rd Down Defense 9 116 AU particularly awful on third down

Special Teams Rankings

It’s interesting that while Alabama is VERY good at covering kickoffs, they are not so good at returning them.  With all of the skill players on the Tide’s roster, you would think they could cobble together some better kickoff returns.  Meanwhile, Auburn is fantastic at returning kickoffs but not so good at covering them.  Something will have to give in this match-up on Saturday so each time Adam Griffith pounds a kickoff into the end zone, Bama fans should breathe a little easier.

Special Teams Rankings
Kickoff Return D 18 64 Bama’s kick coverage will need to show up
Kickoff Returns 107 5 AU 5th in the country in KO returns
Net Punting 82 72
Punt Returns 13 67 Cyrus Jones says hello

Misc Rankings

Finally, we’ll take a look at a couple of miscellaneous stats that typically prove to play a critical part in almost every game.  It’s interesting to note here that Alabama is penalized far more often than the Auburn Tigers.

Misc Rankings
Turnover Margin 24 36
Fewest Penaties (YPG) 83 23 Interesting that AU is committing fewer penalties

Final Thoughts

Alabama is the superior team in 15 out of these 21 categories so it’s reasonable to expect a significant victory Saturday afternoon.  The only cautionary tale these particular stats can offer up is the fact that Auburn’s running game (particularly with Jeremy Johnson at the helm) may challenge the Tide’s defense more than most expect.  And Gus has a sneaky way of slipping a wide receiver out into the wide open pastures of Auburn so you just never know.  But, according to the numbers above, that’s pretty unlikely to happen.


Bama By the Numbers in 2015

The Notorious PAB is back this week with a statistical analysis of Bama vs their 2015 opponents so far this season, including a nice look at how they’ve fared versus ranked opponents.  Enjoy!


At this point in the season, the Crimson Tide has two games remaining: at home versus Charlotte Southern and the Iron Bowl against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium.   It’s not unfair or inaccurate to say that we’re looking a tune-up game followed by the most intense rivalry in big-time college football.  One might argue that the Bama / LSU rivalry has been as intense on the field and more meaningful – in terms of SEC and national implications – of late, but anyone who’s lived in the lovely state of Alabama knows – with existential certainty – that the Iron Bowl is unparalleled in its impact on daily life.

So before a throaty “Roll Tide” echoes once again over the Plains and a majestic raptor circles and swoops over the assembled multitude, we’re going to look at Bama’s scoring and scoring defense to date.  The information will be organized into the following categories:

  • Bama vs. Ranked Teams (AP, then CFP)
  • Bama vs. All SEC Teams
  • Bama vs. SEC West Teams
  • Bama vs. SEC East Teams

“Bama vs. Ranked SEC West Teams” was considered, but that category would be largely redundant.  Except for Arkansas, every SEC West team that Bama has played was ranked 17 or better at kickoff.  The Georgia Bulldogs from the East were at 8.

We’re confused by chatter about “strength of schedule,” “SEC a little down,” or “the Tide plays an old-school, smash-mouth style.”  The record says that Bama faces ranked teams and consistently wins, home and away.  ESPN analytics now ranks the Tide’s schedule as the toughest in all of FBS.  (The Mother Ship has our back… nice!)

Before getting into the numbers, we wonder what might happen if two proud programs – Ohio State and Auburn – were to face off in a contest of pre-game traditions: Big 10 Script Ohio vs. SEC War Eagle.  Consider…

  • Would a Buckeye band member or celebrity alumnus high-step out to dot the i in Ohio if a ravenous golden eagle, wings spread and claws extended, were swooping down like a feather-clad banshee?  Can a sousaphone suffice for self-defense?


  • Would an Auburn raptor be able to locate its target circling above 100,000+ fans performing a one-word spelling bee (O H I O), or would it veer off to seek easier prey along the verdant banks of the Olentangy River? Do eagles ever nest in Buckeye trees?

Surely some reality TV producer could make it happen…


Bama vs. Ranked Teams

For games played before Tuesday, November 3, AP rankings are used; after that, CFP rankings are indicated.

Wisconsin (AP 20)               Neutral Field             35 – 17            WIN

Ole Miss (AP 15)                  Home                         37- 43             LOSS

Georgia (AP 8)                      Away                          38 – 10            WIN

Texas A&M (AP 9)               Away                          41 – 23            WIN

LSU (CFP 4)                         Home                         30 -16             WIN

Miss State (CFP 17)            Away                          31 – 6              WIN

Through the contest against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on November 14, Bama faced ranked opponents in six of its 10 games.  Of these, two were played at Bryant-Denny Stadium, three were on the road and one – the season opener against the Wisconsin Badgers  – was held at a neutral site.  (Bama under Coach Saban has played so many high-visibility openers at venues like AT&T Stadium that players and staff might find an old-fashioned home opener a tad disorienting. “If it’s early September, this must be the national kickoff game in primetime.”)

= = = =

  • Points scored vs. ranked teams: 212             Average: 35.3 ppg
  • Most: 41 vs. Texas A&M             Fewest: 30 vs.LSU


  • Points scored in wins ranked teams: 175 Average: 35.0 ppg
  • Most: 41 vs. Texas A&M Fewest: 30 vs. LSU


  • Points scored in loss ranked team: 37 vs. Ole Miss
  • One loss – average, most and fewest points are the same: 37


= = = = =


  • Points allowed vs. ranked teams: 115 Average: 19.2 ppg
  • Most: 43 vs. Ole Miss Fewest: 6 vs. Mississippi State


  • Points allowed in wins vs. ranked teams: 72 Average: 14.4 ppg
  • Most: 43 vs. Ole Miss                                     Fewest: 6 vs. Mississippi State


  • Points allowed in loss vs. ranked team: 43 vs. Ole Miss
  • One loss – average, most and fewest points are the same: 43


= = = = =


  • Point margin vs. ranked teams: +97             Average: +16.2 ppg
  • Point margin in wins vs. ranked teams: +103 Average: +20.6 ppg
  • Point margin in loss vs. ranked team: -6 Average: -6.0 ppg


Bama vs. All SEC Teams

Ole Miss (West)                    AP 15             Home             37- 43             LOSS

Georgia (East)                      AP 8               Away              38 – 10            WIN

Arkansas (West)                                           Home             27 – 14            WIN

Texas A&M (West)               AP 9               Away              41- 23             WIN

Tennessee (East)                                        Home             19 -14             WIN

LSU (West)                            CFP 4             Home             30 – 16            WIN

Miss State (West)                 CFP 17          Away              31 – 6              WIN

= = = =

  • Points scored vs. SEC teams: 223             Average: 31.8 ppg
  • Most: 41 vs. Texas A&M             Fewest: 19 vs. Tennessee


  • Points scored in wins vs. SEC teams: 186 Average: 31.0 ppg
  • Most: 41 vs. Texas A&M Fewest:  19 vs. Tennessee


  • Points scored in loss vs. SEC team: 37 vs. Ole Miss
  • One loss – average, most and fewest points are the same: 37

= = = =

  • Points allowed in wins vs. SEC teams: 126 Average: 18.0 ppg
  • Most: 43 vs. Ole Miss             Fewest: 6 vs. Mississippi State


  • Points allowed in wins vs. SEC teams: 83 Average: 13.8 ppg
  • Most: 23 vs. Texas A&M Fewest:  6 vs. Mississippi State


  • Points allowed in loss vs. SEC team: 43 vs. Ole Miss
  • One loss – average, most and fewest points are the same: 43

= = = =

  • Point margin vs. SEC teams: +97             Average: +17.2 ppg
  • Point margin in loss vs. SEC team: -6 Average: -6.0 ppg


Bama vs. SEC West Teams

Ole Miss (West)                    AP 15             Home             37- 43             LOSS

Arkansas (West)                                           Home             27 – 14            WIN

Texas A&M (West)               AP 9               Away              41 – 23            WIN

LSU (West)                            CFP 4             Home             30 – 16            WIN

Miss State (West)                 CFP 17          Away              31 – 6              WIN

= = = =

  • Points scored vs. SEC West teams: 166 Average: 33.2 ppg
  • Most: 41 vs. Texas A&M Fewest: 27 vs. Arkansas


  • Points scored in wins vs. SEC West teams: 129 Average: 32.2 ppg
  • Most: 41 Texas A&M Fewest: 27 Arkansas


  • Points scored in loss to SEC West team: 37 vs. Ole Miss
  • One loss – average, most and fewest points are the same: 37

= = = =

  • Points allowed to SEC West teams: 102 Average: 20.4 ppg
  • Most: 43 vs. Ole Miss Fewest:  6 vs. Miss State


  • Points allowed in wins vs. SEC teams: 59 Average: 14.8 ppg
  • Most: 23 vs. Texas A&M             Fewest: 6 vs. Miss State
  • Points allowed in loss to SEC West team: 43 vs. Ole Miss
  • One loss – average, most and fewest points are the same: 43

= = = =

  • Point margin vs. SEC West teams: +64 Average: +12.8 ppg
  • Point margin in wins vs. SEC West teams: +70 Average: +17.5p ppg
  • Point margin in loss vs. SEC West team: -6 Average: -6.0 ppg


Bama vs. SEC East Teams

Georgia (East)                      AP 8               Away              38 – 10            WIN

Tennessee (East)                                        Home             19 -14             WIN

= = = =

  • Points scored vs. SEC East teams: 57 Average: 28.5 ppg
  • Most: 38 vs. Georgia Fewest: 19 vs. Tennessee
  • All wins: points scored in wins – same figures
  • No losses: points allowed in losses – NA

= = = =

  • Points allowed vs. SEC East teams: 24 Average: 12.0 ppg
  • All wins: points allowed in wins – same figures
  • No losses: points allowed in losses – NA

= = = =

  • Point margin vs. SEC East teams: 33 Average: 16.5 ppg
  • All wins: margin in wins – same figures
  • No losses: points allowed in losses – NA


A Few Observations

Since losing to the Ole Miss, 37- 43, a game marked by five Tide turnovers – two fumbles and three INTs – that led to 24 points for the Rebels, Bama has been involved in only one game that looked even remotely like a shootout: 41- 23 win over Texas A&M on the road at College Station.

The Tennessee game stands out for Bama’s low scoring – 19 – and its narrow margin of victory – 5 points.  In its other SEC games, the Tide scored no fewer than 27 points in any one contest.  The next closest margin of victory was 13 points: 27 – 14 win over the Razorbacks.

Bama’s three largest winning margins have all come in road games: +28 vs. Georgia, +18 vs. Texas A&M and +25 over Mississippi State.

In its last two games against tough West Division foes, LSU and Mississippi State, the Tide has scored 61 points while allowing 22, for a 30.5 ppg vs. 11.0 ppg average.  The only better two-game span was 38-10 over Georgia and 27-14 versus Arkansas, which works out to averages of 32.5 ppg and 12.0 ppg.

Vine Time – Geno Matias-Smith versus LSU

One fear we had going into this game was Leonard Fournette facing Alabama’s safeties in one on one match ups.  However, Geno Matias-Smith had no such fears as he absolutely set the tone of the Alabama defense.

This was LSU’s first play of the game.  Check out #24 as he lays the wood…

And, if you weren’t impressed with Geno’s first solo tackle, then you surely will be with this one.  Geno says, “get some!”

Lastly, check out the far left of the screen as #24 comes down to make yet another solo tackle.  Coming into the game, we figured Fournette would have an advantage in these match ups – we figured wrong.  Way wrong!