The Iron Bowl has arrived, but sadly, it may not be as entertaining or hard-fought as we had hoped for.
In their first game without Bo Nix, thanks to a season-ending ankle injury, the Auburn Tigers blew a lead against the South Carolina Gamecocks, losing 21-17 and dropping to 6-5 on the season.
The No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide narrowly escaped the No. 25 Arkansas Razorbacks at home, winning 42-35. We were on the Razorbacks last week and they covered the three-score spread with ease.
With Nix in the lineup, it wouldn’t be too crazy to predict an upset loss for the Crimson Tide, especially traveling to Auburn. With T.J. Finley as the new starter for the Tigers, though, let’s examine how they’ll stack up against the No. 3 team in the country.
All NCAAF gameday odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. All odds and lines are accurate as of 9 a.m. ET on November 22, 2021. All statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
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Alabama vs. Auburn Prediction
Finley played fine against South Carolina. That’s just it, though—he played fine.
Nix never turned into the world-beater we hoped he would be throughout his college career, but when he was on, we saw his elite capabilities. You cannot say the same about Finley, who threw for 188 yards and a touchdown but completed only 53 percent of his passes in his first start. Thankfully, the Tigers had running back Tank Bigsby, who rushed for 164 yards on 22 carries and a score.
Bigsby should show out for this game, but I’m just not confident Finley is capable of hanging with the Crimson Tide. Alabama’s defense made Razorbacks quarterback K.J. Jefferson look like a first-round NFL pick in Week 12, giving up three passing touchdowns and over 325 passing yards, but Alabama will score and Finley may be too conservative and limited to take advantage of this porous defense.
Betting Pick: Alabama 42, Auburn 17
Alabama vs. Auburn Best Bets
Best Bet: Alabama Crimson Tide -19.5 (-110) at Caesars
This originally opened at 19, but now Alabama will have to deal with a hook as well. I’ll admit that I’m not super confident in taking this Alabama team in three-score spreads against most SEC competition, but despite a monster game from Bigsby, the Tigers had trouble scoring with Finley under center.
Alabama has definitely had its issues, but there are some players, such as safety Jordan Battle and cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis, who should be able to assist in creating turnovers. In coverage this season, Battle has only allowed 77 yards and Armour-Davis has allowed under 265.
The Tigers also have somewhat of a lack of talent at the receiver position, with none of them having more than 500 yards.
If Nix was playing in this game, this spread would be quite different. Regardless of the number, I would have taken the Tigers. With Finley, though, the offense won’t have the juice to cover.
Best Bet: Alabama Crimson Tide Moneyline (-1100) at Caesars
It has not been smooth sailing for the Crimson Tide lately, so betting on the moneyline is always a bit uneasy. However, in this game, if they were to lose to the Finley-led Tigers, that would be the stunner of the century.
It’s probably just best to ignore this moneyline as you’ll need to bet a few car payments just to win $100. But yes, the Tide will win this one.
Best Bet: Over 55 (-110) at Caesars
Other than the game against LSU, Alabama has not had trouble scoring. Including that game, they’re still averaging more than 44 points per game over their last five contests.
Despite their pass-blocking issues as of late, Alabama should still be able to move the ball with ease against the Tigers. They should also see a wealth of offensive opportunities due to shortened drives from the Finley-led offense.
Alabama will need some help from the Tigers and they should get just enough. As mentioned, the Crimson Tide defense has its issues, and Bigsby is a legitimate threat to deal with.
When you factor in the playmakers Alabama has, the opportunities they should have, and Bigsby on the other side allowing for the Tigers to at least reach the teens, this should go over 55.
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