Alabama, Auburn put lega­cies on the line

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By John Zenor

Noth­ing of­fers a life­time sup­ply of brag­ging rights at Auburn or Alabama quite like Iron Bowl suc­cess. The topranked Crim­son Tide hosts No. 16 Auburn in a game with plenty of le­gacy.

TUSCALOOSA, ALA. >> Alabama se­niors go into their fi­nal home game sport­ing a gaudy record with a shot at an­other South­east­ern Con­fer­ence ti­tle and maybe a sec­ond straight na­tional cham­pi­onship await­ing.

Noth­ing of­fers a life­time sup­ply of brag­ging rights at Auburn or Alabama quite like Iron Bowl suc­cess, though.

The top-ranked Crim­son Tide (11-0, 7-0 SEC, No. 1 CFP) hosts No. 16 Auburn (7-2, 5-2, No. 13) Satur­day at Bryant-Denny Sta­dium in a game that cap­ti­vates much of the state for 365 days, not just 3-plus hours.

“I think this is one of the great­est ri­valry games in the coun­try,” Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban said. “I know it means a lot to a lot of peo­ple in this state as well as na­tion­ally and the com­peti­tors in the game prob­a­bly en­joy this kind of com­pe­ti­tion, this kind of ri­valry as much as any game that they play.”

‘Bama se­niors carry a 48-5 record and a 23game win­ning streak into this boil­ing caul­dron of a game. They’ve also won two straight over their in-state ri­vals, and will face No. 13 Florida in the SEC cham­pi­onship game in At­lanta.

The Tigers and their fans don’t have a ti­tle shot await­ing, but crash­ing Bama’s party would be the next best thing.

It’s the first Iron Bowl for the Tide’s seem­ingly un­flap­pable fresh­man quar­ter­back Jalen Hurts. Auburn has kept its start­ing quar­ter­back a mys­tery while Sean White tries to re­turn from a shoul­der in­jury but gets a huge boost with the re­turn of tail­back Kam­ryn Pettway.

The game fea­tures two top 10 scor­ing de­fenses, as well.

Those Alabama se­niors still re­mem­ber their first Iron Bowl, in 2013. That’s when Auburn won on a 109yard re­turn of a missed field goal on the fi­nal play, ul­ti­mately win­ning the SEC ti­tle and play­ing for a na­tional cham­pi­onship.

“I think about it ev­ery time we play Auburn,” Tide de­fen­sive end Jonathan Allen said. “Kinda sucked. I feel like they took a na­tional cham­pi­onship away from me. So that’s some­thing I def­i­nitely re­mem­ber and still think about ev­ery now and then.”

Some other things to look for in the Iron Bowl: PETTWAY’S BACK >> Auburn’s lead­ing rusher, Pettway is ex­pected to play af­ter miss­ing the last two games with a left leg in­jury. If he’s close to fully healthy, the 240-pounder gives the Tigers a big­time phys­i­cal run­ning threat against the na­tion’s top run de­fense. “You can’t let him go north and south,” Tide safety Minkah Fitz­patrick said. “You’ve got to make him go east and west. When you do that, you can stop him.” WHO’S THE QB >> If White’s throw­ing shoul­der isn’t healed enough to go, the Tigers could start Jeremy John­son for the sec­ond straight game. John­son is the team’s most ex­pe­ri­enced quar­ter­back while John Franklin III is likely to play a role as well, and is a sig­nif­i­cant run­ning threat.


Alabama wide re­ceiver Gehrig Dieter, left, cel­e­brates with Josh Casher af­ter scor­ing last week­end against Chat­tanooga. Alabama car­ries a 23-game win­ning streak into to­day’s Iron Bowl game against Auburn.

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