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By the numbers: The Tide and Tigers

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The Tide and Tigers are hurtling towards the king of Iron Bowl showdowns and the stakes couldn't be much higher.

The team that comes out on top after 60 grueling minutes on the field at Jordan-Hare is going to be the SEC West Champion, something the Iron Bowl has never determined. It also determines bragging rights for another 364 days.

If Alabama wins, the train to Atlanta is the last stop before an epic 3-peat in the national championship game.

If Auburn wins it will put the cap on the most amazing turn-around season in college football memory. There's also the chance that the Tigers could head to the big game, but they'll need help jumping either Ohio State or Florida State in the rankings.

Here's a look at the number for both teams as they head into the 78th Iron Bowl.

NOTE: [Here's a side-by-side comparison in table format]

Total Offense:

-Auburn is ranked 12th in total offense (#104 pass, #2 rush) and has scored more than Alabama in 11 games (+41 points Auburn). Alabama is 40th in total offense (#62 pass, #24 rush) but has scored more than Auburn in SEC play (+14 Alabama). Auburn averaged 58.6 points a game in out of conference play—just 36.1 points a game in SEC (still a high average).

-Similar point ^ for yards. Auburn has 607 yards more than Alabama (5499 yards for Auburn vs. 4892 yards for Alabama), but if you only count SEC games, Alabama takes the lead by 139 yards (3436 yards for Alabama vs. 3297 yards for Auburn)

-Auburn's yard total is deceptive. The 4 out of conference games were against teams *ranked 104 and 84 in rush defense. They had 2,202 yards in those 4 games (40.4% of those their total yards). Alabama had 1456 in its out of conference games (29.8% of its total yards)

-Auburn improvement through season—Auburn averaged 418 yards a game through the first 5. In the final 6, they averaged 561 yards each game. The key was the run game. Auburn averaged 242 yards rushing through the first 5 games. Auburn averaged 385 rushing yards a game in the final 6.

-I'm surprised at Alabama's ability for the big play. I think of Auburn when I think of an explosive offense, but Auburn has 13 plays of 50 yards or more (6 passing and 7 rushing). Alabama has 10 plays of 50 yards or more (3 passes and 7 rushes). Not as much, but still close.

-I thought it was interesting—Alabama thrives on balance and consistency while Auburn goes big in pass or run (typically run). Auburn's most balanced game offensively was the LSU game—their lone loss. 224 yards passing and 213 yards rushing.

-3 and outs—Alabama had 20 of them out of 697 plays (2.9%). Auburn had 28 out of 781 plays (3.6%).. doesn't really mean anything. I just looked it up so I'm putting it out there.

-3rd downs—Alabama takes this. The tide is 60-122 (49.2%) in 3rd downs, while Auburn is 62-140 (44.3%). Auburn's had 18 more shots at 3rd down but only completed 2 more.

Rushing:

-Auburn has 37 rushing touchdowns—more than 54 teams in the country have total. Alabama has the 4th highest ranked rushing defense. The best rushing defense Auburn has faced all year is Georgia ranked at #30.

-Obvious points—Auburn kills Alabama in the run game (Auburn +12 rushing touchdowns, +1196 rushing yards, Auburn ranked 2 in rushing—Alabama ranked 24)

-Auburn is ranked 2nd in the country in rushing, but has only played 2 teams in the top 40 in rushing defense (#30 Georgia and #36 LSU). To be fair: Alabama has also only faced two in the top 40 in rush defense (#8 Virginia Tech and #36 LSU)

-Both teams go into the season with +1000 yards rushers (Auburn's Tre Mason [#16 with 1153 yards] and Alabama TJ Yeldon [#27 with 1022 yards])—I do not know the last time this happened.

Passing:

-Obvious points: Alabama kills Auburn in the pass (Alabama +10 passing touchdowns, Alabama +590 yards passing, Alabama ranked 63rd in the pass—Auburn ranked 104).

-Auburn has a total of 1976 yards passing total (1303 yards in the SEC)—Nick Marshall has 1530. Alabama has 2566 passing yards (1804 in the SEC)

-AJ McCarron is the 10th most efficient passer in the NCAA (Marshall is actually ranked 51st)—all out of 97 quarterbacks listed

Total Defense:

- Alabama is ranked 3rd in total defense (#7 pass, #4 rush), only allowed 2903 yards all season (1707 in SEC play). Alabama has more 1989 yards total, than their opponent.  Auburn is ranked 69th in defense (#98 pass, #51 rush), allowing 4476 yards all season (3170 in SEC).

-Alabama has allowed a total of 102 points (9.3 ppg)—best in the country. In the SEC, they've allowed 83 (11.9 ppg).

-Alabama held 4 of the top 40 offenses in the country to 16.5 points a game (including a shut out of Ole Miss).

-What made Texas A&M unique—surprise! Johnny can move. Manziel had 98 yards rushing against Alabama. He is the only starting quarterback to have more than 37 yards of rushing against the Tide all season (Chattanooga's Terrell Robinson had 13 carries for 37 yards), This info is in case you didn't know Marshall needed to have a big game running, already.

-3 and outs—Alabama forced 38 of them. Auburn forced 41.. like before: doesn't really mean anything. I just looked it up so I'm not wasting it.

-3rd down defense—I give this a draw. They both have similar percentages for total (Alabama allowing 31.5% on 3rd down and Auburn allowing 35.6% on 3rd downs) and for SEC play only (Alabama allowing 35.2% on 3rd down in SEC and Auburn allowing 38.6% on 3rd downs in SEC)

Rushing Defense:

-Alabama has only allowed 4 teams to total more than 100 yards of rushing on them (7 teams total had less than +100 yards rushing—4 in the SEC). Three teams didn't even make 50 total rushing yards (2 in the SEC).

-Alabama held the #34 rushing offense (Colorado St.) to 51 yards running, #36 (LSU) to 43 yards running, #38 (Ole Miss) to 39 yards rushing , and #39 (Miss St.) to 53 yards rushing. Alabama game up 165 to the 26th best rushing offense (Arkansas), meaning the Tide gave up 71.6 yards a game to the 5 of the 40 best rushing teams in the country.

-Alabama and Auburn both good about preventing a big play. Alabama 4 plays of 50 or more yards. Auburn has allowed 5 plays of 50 or more yards.

-Alabama has only allowed 3 rushing plays of more than 20 yards.

-Auburn allowed 1673 rushing yards (1252 yards in SEC play) which is 51st in the country—not bad… but… (Check Passing Defense for counterpoint)

Passing Defense:

-Alabama held 4 teams to fewer than 100 yards passing in a game (2 in the SEC).

-Alabama has only allowed 7 passing touchdowns all year (has not allowed an out of conference opponent to pass for a TD)—tied for 2nd best in the country.

-COUNTERPOINT—But Auburn gave up 2803 yards passing (1918 yards in SEC play) which is 98th in the country. Are they pretty good on stopping the run? Or the team knows they can pass so they don't run as much?

Turnover battle + penalties:

-Alabama has fewer turnovers (12 to Auburn's 15), but both defenses forced 17 turnovers.

-Turnovers are the same, but Auburn takes advantage of them a little more—Auburn has scored 74 points off turnovers vs. Alabama scoring 65 points.

-Both teams are efficient—both highly ranked in penalties. Both teams are highly ranked in not turning the ball over (AL tied for #8… AU tied for #35)

-Tie for penalties—Alabama has 51 penalties for 430 yards (ranked 27). Auburn has 52 penalties for 447 yards (ranked 31)

Special Teams:

-In eight games this year (five in the SEC), Auburn has allowed no punt return yards because there were no returns allowed. In another game (Texas A&M) they had two returns for one yard. Total, Auburn has only allowed 4 returns all year (lowest total in the country) for a total of 16 yards. Basically—where Auburn punts, that's where you go.

-Neither team has allowed a punt return or kickoff return for a touchdown all year.

-Auburn allowed an interception return for a touchdown (vs. Tennessee)—Alabama has not allowed the other team's defense to score all year.

My Take:

While I believe Auburn's numbers are deceptive, it's partially because of the team's improvement from the first half of the season. Auburn is much improved in the second half of the season. The problem—they're specialty is Alabama's strength.

Alabama is going to give you about 39 points. It's a matter of Auburn's offense being able to score more on that stingy defense, because the chances of stopping the Tide's offense are slim.

*= NCAA official football statistics don't recognize Georgia State, Chattanooga, Western Carolina, or Florida Atlantic in their list of teams.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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