The biggest rivalry games of the season are this weekend, and few are bigger than Alabama and Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Unfortunately, this looks like a one-sided affair with the Crimson Tide posting as a massive, -24.5 point favorite on the 2018 Iron Bowl betting line. But Auburn surely has a solid shot to stay within that inflated number, and the Tigers will play with confidence knowing they upset Alabama last year 26-14. An upset is a huge longshot this season, noting too that the Crimson Tide have won 46 of their last 48 home games under Saban, including 25 in a row at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Auburn Tigers (7-4) at No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0)
Saturday, Nov 24th – Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa – 3:30pm ET CBS
2018 Iron Bowl Betting Line: Alabama -24.5 (53)
Heisman favorite QB Tua Tagovailoa plays in his first Iron Bowl, which is important to mention. These huge rivalry games bring out intense emotion in players and it can be more difficult to perform at a peak level with more pressure. It’s also senior day in Alabama’s last home game, which adds even more sentiment to the proceedings. Tagovailoa enters the 2018 Iron Bowl betting battle as a -550 favorite to win the Heisman, and has had one of the most surreal seasons ever for a quarterback at this level.
Facing Auburn will be a tough test given the circumstances, which include the Tigers defense. Auburn has 34 sacks to rank 13th nationally, and the Tigers will put more pressure than Tagovailoa is used to seeing this week. Alabama has already secured their spot in next week’s SEC Championship game by winning the SEC West. They also have their most explosive offense in coach Nick Saban’s tenure, as Alabama averages a balanced 539.5 yards per game. Alabama also had a layup game against The Citadel last week, meaning that they’ll be rested and ready for a heated matchup in the Iron Bowl.
Auburn’s defense is underrated, and the Tigers defense has allowed a touchdown on just 29.0 percent of its opponents’ trips into the red zone, second best in the nation. They have also allowed just six rushing touchdowns for the second-best mark in the country. Auburn’s defense also ranks 10th, allowing just 17.4 points per game. Alabama’s defense has been getting stronger as the season has gone by and allows just 12.7 points per game against FBS competition. The Tigers also have an excellent punter in Australian Arryn Siposs, ranking 5th in the country in net punting at 42.0 yards.
Despite all the accolades noted for Auburn, there is no denying that Alabama holds most the advantages as a likely winner. Alabama’s scoring differential stands at 35.6 points per game (48.7 scored, 13.1 allowed) in 2018, and they have scored 111 points off 20 opponent giveaways this season. Auburn will need to protect the ball, create turnovers and control more clock to stay competitive. Even with Alabama rolling impressively in all their games this season, I still like Auburn with a fat point cushion.
2018 Iron Bowl Betting Free Pick – Auburn Tigers +24.5
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.