By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Iron Bowl Review
When the Iron Bowl makes its way to Jordan-Hare Stadium every other season, the potential for out-rageously bizarre games is exacerbated for Alabama. After the first quarter, last Saturday’s Iron Bowl was about as peculiar of a game as the series has seen in 84 meetings. The teams combined for 38 points in the final 5:36 of the second quarter, and the first half ended with a controversial 52-yard field goal from Anders Carlson. Nick Saban did not think the Tigers should have had time to kick the field goal, but the officials put one second back on the clock and allowed Carlson time to knock the ball through to cut the deficit to 31-27 at the half.
Auburn’s defense twice intercepted Mac Jones and returned both picks for touchdowns, and the Tiger offense did just enough to outlast the Crimson Tide. AU quarterback Bo Nix completed half of his 30 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown and ran for 44 yards and a score. JaTarvious Whitlow rushed 16 times for 144 yards, while Seth Williams caught three passes for 66 yards. Zakoby McClain and Smoke Monday both scored defensive touchdowns for Auburn as the Tigers improved to 9-3 overall and 5-3 in the SEC.
Aside from his two interceptions, Jones played well for most of the game in only his third career start. He threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns and connected with Jaylen Waddle four times for 98 yards and three touchdowns. Henry Ruggs hauled in six passes for 99 yards and another score. Najee Harris had one of his best games of the season in rushing for 146 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Alabama dropped to 10-2 overall and 6-2 in conference play.
SEC football standings
1. LSU (12-0, 8-0)
2. Georgia (11-1, 7-1)
3. Florida (10-2, 6-2)
4. Auburn (9-3, 5-3)
5. Alabama (10-2, 6-2)
6. Texas A&M (7-5, 4-4)
7. Tennessee (7-5, 5-3)
8. Kentucky (7-5, 3-5)
9. Missouri (6-6, 3-5)
10. Mississippi State (6-6, 3-5)
11. Ole Miss (4-8, 2-6)
12. South Carolina (4-8, 3-5)
13. Vanderbilt (3-9, 1-7)
14. Arkansas (2-10, 0-8)
Week 15 Previews and Predictions
Week 14: 6-3; season: 79-24
Game of the Week:LSU vs. Georgia (+7). The SEC Championship Game has had playoff implications every year since 2014, and this might be the league’s biggest title game yet. LSU likely has already clinched a spot in the four-team playoff field, even if the Tigers lose to Georgia this Saturday in Atlanta, Ga. But if the Bulldogs can pull off the upset, the SEC likely will field two teams in the College Football Playoffs. Despite a loss earlier this season against South Carolina, Georgia currently is No. 4 in the playoff rankings. A win over No. 2 LSU would be more than enough to earn the Bulldogs a spot in the field.
If LSU beats Georgia and enters the playoffs at 13-0, it would be hard for the selection committee to keep the Tigers from being ranked No. 1. Ohio State currently sits atop the rankings, but an LSU win over Georgia would trump the Buckeyes’ hypothetical win over Wisconsin, and the Tigers already have a stronger strength of schedule. Earning the top spot might be more important this year than any previous year due to potential matchups. While Utah and Oklahoma both have very good teams, both teams would be a more favorable matchup for the top seed as opposed to drawing Clemson in the semifinals.
Saturday’s matchup features perhaps the best offense in the country against the best defense. Joe Burrow and the LSU offense have been unstoppable all season, and Burrow likely will win the Heisman Trophy. On the other hand, the Georgia defense has not allowed more than 20 points in a game all season. The Bulldogs have been in this spot the last two seasons, and this a must-win game if they want to contend for a national championship. Prediction: LSU 34, Georgia 23.