BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Get ready for a beatdown weekend! Karlac The Magnificent here, and in spirit of ripping off that fantastic skit from the great Johnny Carson, I'm offering up the exact scores of Saturday's Tide and Tigers games. By the time these games end, the Kentucky Wildcats and the La-Monroe Warhawks are going to be hurting more than Ashley Ward's left cheek. The outcomes in these games will be decided faster than the Alabama student section left Bryant-Denny Stadium last weekend. Let's get busy!
The Answer: The Walking Dead
The Question: What is the Auburn offense inside an opponent's 20-yard line?
I'm here to tell you that red zone offense has been one giant thorn in the side of Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. Remember nearly two years ago when the Tigers went to Tuscaloosa, put up 630 yards of offense and still lost the Iron Bowl? It was because the red zone offense absolutely stunk and it apparently hasn't improved much since then. Last weekend the Tigers took six trips to the LSU red zone and came away with five field goals. The team scoring? Kicker Daniel Carlson went 6-for-6 with his leg (7-for-7 if you count hitting photographer Ashley on a kickoff).
Auburn has a 31% red zone scoring success rate this season, ranking 127th of 128 division one FBS teams. That is... not good. The players are trying their best, so what gives? Preparation? Play calling? Former Auburn coach Shug Jordan used to tell his players, "When we get close to the goal line we're going to line up like a Christmas tree and score." Sounds like Malzahn and friends need to study their Auburn football history.
After all that is said, this game is going to a be a blowout, if only because of Auburn's superior athletes. It's a bit like when you used to watch team warm-ups at your kid's soccer, basketball or football games. You'd take a quick glance at the players on both teams and know within thirty seconds if your team was going to win or it was going to be a long afternoon.
Tigers quarterback Sean White is improving, as last week's QBR of 148.7 proved. He completed five passes of over 20 yards and (I hope you are sitting down), completed one pass for 36 yards (Sammy Coates where are you?). The Auburn defenders are playing well, as the "D" is ranked 28th in the nation in rush defense. And yes, it's yet another home game.
Karlac says: Gus Malzahn once again wears a hat rather than a visor, Rhett Lashlee and Herb Hand open up the offense and the Tigers win big.
The Final: 38-13 Auburn
The Answer: A Toga Party
The Question: Where will Alabama students be by halftime?
While the Crimson Tide now starts a long run of SEC games, the guys get a break in hosting the Kentucky Wildcats. No Blake Barnett? No problem, as by the time the fourth quarter comes around, Cooper Bateman and a few of his buddies will be sharing time at quarterback. Of course comments like these are what chaps Nick Saban, as a game like this could be dangerous. I remember Gene Stallings once telling me, "If you don't think a game like this is big, just lose it and see how big it is then". Good point, but Bama's defense will not let the Tide lose this game. Jeremy Pruitt's unit just happens to be ranked #1 in the nation in defensive efficiency, and by the way this defense has been scoring, it could outscore the Kentucky offense.
The injury bug? It has definitely arrived, as players such as Damien Harris (a Kentucky native), Ardarius Stewart, Reuben Foster, Calvin Ridley, Rashaan Evans, Bo Scarbrough and Marlon Humphrey are banged up. But I think the Bama team would be fine without any of then seeing action.
Karlac says: Alabama has lost to Kentucky only twice in 39 games- once in 1922 (no, I wasn't around to see that one) and 1997 (yes, I was around to see that one). If this was a basketball game I may have a different prediction, but Jalen Hurts and the young guns (keep an eye on tailback Joshua Jacobs) will roll.
The final: 31-10 Alabama
So there you have them- the exact scores of Saturday's games. Enjoy your weekend, and remember to check out "Tide & Tigers Today" Saturday at 10 a.m.!