Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 28, 2014 at 1:00 PM
A year ago this weekend, Alabama was the #1 team in the country and seemingly cruising to a berth in the national championship game. Sure, archrival Auburn was going to offer a challenge. But, come on…we’re talking about a Crimson Tide team that would be favored in a title tilt over any other team in the country. They might struggle as favorites of 9.5 to 10 points against Auburn. They weren’t going to lose to Auburn!
Well, we all remember that they did lose to Auburn…and then no-showed the Sugar Bowl in an embarrassing 45-31 loss to Oklahoma.
This year, it’s almost the same story. Alabama is #1 in the nation. Vegas oddsmakers keep telling the press that the Crimson Tide would be favored over any other team. Even the pointspread vs. Auburn is almost the same. Will lightning strike twice? Or will Alabama get sweet revenge?
Believe it or not, lightning might be more likely to strike this year than last year…even though this year’s game is in Tuscaloosa.
*Last year’s Alabama team was undefeated heading into Auburn, with almost every game being a blowout. They were a true juggernaut that was likely to run up the score on whoever they faced. This year’s team lost to Ole Miss, should have lost to LSU, almost lost to Arkansas, and has looked vulnerable and uncertain far too often.
*Last year’s quarterback was A.J. McCarron, a steady hand to made big plays and smart choices. This year’s quarterback is Blake Sims. He’s mixed good games with bad ones, as he’s trying to run a Lane Kiffin offense that is always an iffy process at the college level if you’re looking for consistency.
*Last year’s defense forced turnovers and scared opponents into submission. This year’s defense is still plenty good…but doesn’t make quite the same kind of impact on the field in terms of making opponents beg for mercy.
For those reasons and more, last year’s Alabama team was 6-4-1 against the spread entering the Auburn game even though they were seen as a super-team who was constantly high priced in the market. This year’s Alabama team is 3-8 ATS even though expectations were lower and early results didn’t paint a picture of invincibility.
Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats say about whether we’re going to see a replay…or REVENGE.
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Auburn: 8-3 (#1 schedule in USA Today)
Alabama: 10-1 (#5 schedule in USA Today)
Alabama has managed to dodge bullets that Auburn couldn’t avoid. In fact, Auburn has lost badly when things didn’t go their way to Texas A&M (missed the spread by a mile) and Georgia (was never a game). Both teams have played extremely tough schedules according to Jeff Sagarin’s numbers at USA Today. Can you imagine…Auburn’s schedule ranking can’t go up after playing #1 Alabama because it was already the toughest schedule! Gotta respect the records. Edge to ‘Bama in terms of getting revenge.
Auburn: 6.7 on offense, 5.3 on defense
Alabama: 6.6 on offense, 4.3 on defense
Considering the schedules they’ve played, those are stellar numbers. Alabama is +2.3 against a top five schedule. Auburn’s +1.4 against the toughest. Auburn only pales in comparison to a handful of teams…but one of those is Saturday’s opponent. Again, edge to Alabama straight up. Does the YPP differential justify a Vegas line of more than a touchdown?
This is where things get interesting…and where the underdog has a chance. Alabama is too mistake-prone on offense this season…and far from a sure thing to set up cheap points with takeaways. Hey, it’s still a physical team. But, adding Kiffin’s coaching into the mix has turned Nick Saban’s efficiency machine into more of a gamble. If Alabama doesn’t win this category, we just might have a ballgame.
Auburn: 4-7 ATS
Alabama: 3-8 ATS
Both have been disappointments. We already talked about Alabama. Auburn was national runner-up last year after their win over ‘Bama launched them into the big game against Florida State. That made them a “public” team, and made their lines higher than they should have been. Shocking that these two are a combined 7-15 ATS heading into the weekend.
Current Line: Alabama by 9, total of 54
JIM HURLEY circled this game last year because of something he saw in the matchup (not for the reason you were probably thinking!). It’s not a 100% certainty as we write this that Auburn/Alabama will be part of the final mix on Saturday. But, there’s a good chance it will show up at least as part of a TV Parlay…and possibly as a true MONSTER.
You can always purchase the final word right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about the rest of this year’s annual TURKEY SHOOT, call us in the office Saturday morning before Michigan/Ohio State and the other early games kick off at 1-888-777-4155.
Here in the NOTEBOOK, we move to the NFL Sunday and Monday for previews of the prime time matchups. Then…it’s some great college hoops!
Sunday: NFL TV Preview…Denver at Kansas City on NBC
Monday: NFL TV Preview…Miami at NY Jets on ESPN
Tuesday: Big 10/ACC Previews in College Hoops (including OSU/Louisville)
Wednesday: Big 10/ACC Previews in College Hoops (including Duke/Wisconsin)
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