BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog by WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
I don't know about you, but late night television has not been the same since Johnny Carson ruled the airwaves. I miss his wit, his quick comebacks and his Carnac The Magnificent skit.
Well, it's time to pay tribute to Carnac as I bring you this week's Alabama and Auburn game picks. Only here will you receive the exact scores of Saturday's games as they have been hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall's porch. No one has seen the contents of the these envelopes until now, where you now know exactly how the big games will turn out.
Answer: Beaten, not stirred
Question: What will the Southern Cal Trojans become after playing Alabama?
When the Crimson Tide team is ranked number one in most every pre-season poll after losing a Heisman winner who ran for 2219 yards in 2015, when it's ranked number one with a new quarterback, running back, center and more, the respect that surrounds the program is enormous. Others who have departed? Defenders Reggie Ragland, A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed. But still the respect pours in, and it starts with yet another strong defense. Linemen like Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson and D'Shawn Hand will give Trojan's quarterback Max Browne fits. USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is a beast, but Marlon Humphrey, Minkah Fitzpatrick and those killer DB's will be good to go as they are indeed Nick Saban's favorites. While the Trojans offensive line is solid behind Chad Wheeler, it won't be able to move the ball consistently. You're concerned about the Bama quarterback? Don't be, as Bateman or Barnett will be fine handing the ball off to Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, and throwing safe passes to receivers Calvin Ridley,
Ardarius Stewart and the now-healthy Robert Foster.
And the coaches? A few weeks back, Bama OC Lane Kiffin said he wasn't really thinking about playing the team that he used to coach. You can bet he is today. Fired in 2013, Kiffin would like nothing better than to win big on Saturday, and the chances are very good that he will. Nick Saban is now 9-0 in season openers as Bama's coach, winning those openers by an average score of 40-12. Along the way, Bama has been ranked number one at some point in the season for the last nine years- Coach Bryant had his team ranked #1 nine times, but those rankings came in varying years between 1958 and 1982.
So here's how the game will play out: Bama will hold a 14-3 lead at halftime via TD's from Scarbrough and Ridley. The Trojans will close it to 14-10 midway through the third quarter before that late-game Crimson Tide nastiness will take over. The final: Alabama 28, Southern Cal 17.
Answer: A little Dab'll do ya
Question: How much of the Clemson playbook will be needed to beat Auburn?
Let me say right up front that I think the Auburn Tigers can win Saturday's game. But the only player from the Clemson playbook either team will be concerned about is a young man named DeShaun Watson. The Clemson quarterback is simply too talented to let this game slip away. Last season, Watson passed for over 4100 yards and ran for over 1100 yards. In the national championship game, he amassed 478 yards... by himself... against Alabama! Said Nick Saban after the game, "DeShaun is the most dynamic quarterback we've faced since Cam Newton." While I love the Auburn defensive front what with Carl Lawson, Montravius Adam, Byron Cowart and freshman Marlon Davidson, you have to remember that these are big guys who may get winded in a hurry.
The Auburn offense? I love the grit and toughness of quarterback Sean White, but with a now-thin backfield and receivers who are untested, even a less-than-stellar Clemson defense should be able to slow that Auburn defense down. Remember: With the departure of tailbacks Peyton Barber (1016 yds in 2015), Jovon Robinson (639 yds in 2015) and Roc Thomas (261 yds in 2015), a total of 1916 yards and 17 touchdowns have left the squad. Sean White in 2015? 83-143, 1166 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT's with a QBR of 123.3 Admirable numbers from a young man who was learning the offense on the fly. Still, I harken back to DeShaun Watson, a quarterback who can lead a charge and win a shootout.
Here's how this one will play out: Sean White will scamper in for a score to make it 7-0 Auburn in the first quarter, but things will not be looking good by the third quarter as Watson will have run for a score and passed for two others. The final in a hard-fought game: 31-21 Clemson.
What if all of this is wrong? What if come Monday Auburn fans are celebrating a win while Bama fans are hanging their heads after a loss? Now THEN we'd be talking. And Karlac would have some explaining to do!