From the Sideline — This Iron Bowl Has Unique Qualities
I've lived in the state of Alabama my entire life. There's never been a time where the Alabama/Auburn game didn't matter.
Of course, with all that's been hanging in the balance from a national perspective for either team - or both - in the past eight years, has only added to the intrigue.
Saturday at Jordan-Hare, the Iron Bowl will feature a team with a shot at the national title for the 8th consecutive season. That's an amazing run for a game, and a series, that really doesn't need anything added beyond its built-in intensity.
This game has a familiar refrain from recent seasons, but the makeup of this one has some unique qualities.
Alabama has a mix of key seniors and freshmen, that, in essence, are all first-year offensive guys.
Jake Coker has never started before. Richard Mullaney has never played at Alabama before.
Both are seniors. Both have been vital to the Tide's success.
Calvin Ridley is a first year player, who's played like a veteran at wide receiver.
Another unique twist to this Bama team is the fact that they are great at running back - but not by committee, as they've been for most of Nick Saban's championship run.
Alabama's run game, depending on Kenyan Drake's availability, may consist of Derrick Henry and...Derrick Henry.
On the flip side, Auburn was picked by many to win it all. The Tigers were then pronounced DOA by the time the first month of games were complete.
Jeremy Johnson was a preseason All-SEC pick, only to lose his starting role after 3 games.
Much like the Auburn team itself, Johnson is playing better - but still not as well as most thought he would.
Is Johnson playing well enough to have success against the Alabama defense? Is Auburn playing well enough to end Alabama's run at both SEC and CFP titles?
I think I know the answer, and I hope I'm right. But because of what this means, and because of what's on the line...you never feel comfortable until the deal is done.