BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
The chill in the air is here and so too is the fourth Saturday in October. And the teams that will heat up on Saturday, throwing serious shade on the Aggies and the Razorbacks? None other than the Tide and the Tigers. It's time once again to borrow a theme from the late Johnny Carson (with a slight spelling change) to offer you the game predictions from Karlac The Magnificent! Let's do it, starting with the Alabama-Texas A&M game.
The Answer: Phi Bama Slama
The Question: What new fraternity has been formed by the Alabama defenders?
This contest will be close... until early in the third quarter. That's when the Alabama defensive linemen will exert their will and Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight will tap out. So the kid led Oklahoma to a Sugar Bowl win over the Tide after the 2013 season going 32 of 44, 348 yards and 4 TD's? It's not gonna happen again. Since that loss to the Sooners, all Bama has done is go 36-3. The current Crimson Tide team leads the nation in rush defense, allowing only 69 yards a game. The Aggies running game will be AWOL, thus leaving the Bama secondary to have another banner game.
So Texas A&M has big, lanky receivers, right? Christian Kirk leads the SEC in 7 receptions per game while Josh Reynolds stands second in the conference in receiving yards at 19.5 per catch. Fine players? Yes... game changers? Not against this Bama secondary, which has helped the team score 8 defensive touchdowns this season.
Let's be frank (but don't call me Frank): While the Bama defense is just too much to overcome, the Crimson Tide offense is pretty strong too! The Tide's 438 rushing yards against Tennessee was the most the program had chalked up in some 20 years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. On Saturday, Lane Kiffin will have his arms in the arms in the air, celebrating as Jalen Hurts' pass is in mid-air, heading for yet another Calvin Ridley touchdown, and that's just a taste of how the offense will shine.
Over the last season and a half, the Crimson Tide have faced six top-ten teams. Their record in those games? A perfect 6-0 with an average winning margin of 41-17. So there you have it: We're going with the law of averages here and telling you the final score.
Karlac Says: 41-17 Alabama
The Answer: A White Christmas
The Question: What will Auburn's quarterback be enjoying Saturday night?
For all of those who insist that Auburn's Sean White is limited, he sure is doing something right. He leads the nation in passing efficiency as he has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes- his quarterback rating is 157.2. His 1187 passing yards and TD-to-interception ratio of 6-2 is passable, and the kids have shown guts as he has been knocked around by opposing defenses.
But what about Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen? He leads the SEC in passing yards while standing second to White in passing efficiency at 156.3. His problem? His offensive line, a line that has allowed 17 sacks this season. Those big Tigers like Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams are going to have a field day on Saturday night. And the fact that Hogs tailback Rawleigh Williams III leads the SEC in rushing with 785 total yards? Never fear, my friend, as Auburn DC Kevin Steele has known that long before us.
So what's the X-Factor in this game? It's the Auburn running attack. Kamryn Pettway has found his groove, as against Mississippi State he had career highs in carries (39), rushing yards (169) and touchdowns (3). Throw in Kerryon Johnson and the Tiger's running game is about to go hog-wild. And before you doubt that Johnson will play as he's been fighting an ankle sprain, let me tell you to rest easy. Kerryon will not only play, he will score two touchdowns. How do I know? I'm Karnac, that's how!
This is a different Auburn football team than the team you saw over the first 3-4 games of the season, and it will continue to evolve. This one will be close until midway through the third quarter when Johnson & Pettway take over.
Karlac says: 31-21 Auburn
So there you have it: The Tide and the Tigers will pick up big wins on Saturday. You can take it to the bank, thanks to, well... me! Enjoy the games, and we'll see you Saturday morning at 10 o'clock on "Tide & Tigers" today as Barrett Jones will join us.