Karle's Korner: And the winner of the Iron Bowl is? Here's Karla - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL


Karle's Korner: And the winner of the Iron Bowl is? Here's Karlac's pick

(Source: Rick Karle/WBRC) (Source: Rick Karle/WBRC)

The following is a commentary from WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:

You know it, I know it, the world knows it: The Iron Bowl is the greatest spectacle in all of college football. No other game in our great country is more personal and hits so close to home. How close? Nine months from now there are going to be a huge number of babies born in our state (magic seems to happen in the hours following the game), and there's a good chance that they will be named either Crimson or Auburn. You think I'm kidding?

Back in 2007, Tim and Hannah Witt of Decatur named their son Saban. I visited the kid last summer to see if little Saban had anything in common with you-know-who. I don't want to say the name has rubbed off on him, but the then 8-year-old was scolding his parents for not correctly cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. Hey, being a parent is a process, aight? Ya want more? 

Just last year the Tide and the Tigers were well represented on the statewide list of baby names: 

  • Twenty-two girls and 10boys were named Crimson
  • Eight girls were named Krimson
  • One-hundred-and-fifteen newborn boys were named Cam
  • Twenty-one baby boys were named Bryant
  • Ten boys were named Bo
  • Then again, 108 boys were named Bentley, but I digress.

Of course that's just the tip of the houndstooth iceberg, as in 2013 Steven & Summer Steele named their new baby Krimson Tyde. A Phenix City couple named their newborn girl Alleigh Bama. A 29-year-old from our state is named Auburn because of her parents' love of AU- even an infamous Bama fan who I shall not name has kids named Crimson and Bear.

So there you have it: Living, breathing proof of this football rivalry means to residents of our state. And now it's time for Karlac The Magnificent to not only tell you which team will win the Iron Bowl, but the exact score. With respect and thanks to the late Johnny Carson, I now rip off his shtick by coming up with the question to a random answer that was given to me by a Crimson Tide fan on Facebook:

The answer: Jalen Hurts

The question: What happens when Auburn's Montravius Adams sacks the Alabama quarterback?

This one's going to be a headbanger, and I can't wait! Here's my plan: I'm going to load you up with some numbers and provide you with the two areas that you will be talking about at the water cooler on Monday. How can I do it? Look, I'm Karlac! Here are the two match-ups that will determine the outcome of the game:

The Alabama Defensive Line, aka Phi Bama Slama vs Auburn Tailback Kamryn Pettway

What, President-elect Trump is looking for a Secretary Of Defense? He may as well name Bama's Jonathan Allen to the post because nothing has snuck past him in months. How stout is Bama's Great Wall? The Crimson Tide lead the nation in rush defense, allowing only 68.8 yards per game. The match-up to watch? Auburn's Kamryn Pettway against that "D", as Pettway stands 2nd in the SEC in rushing with 1106 yards- Arkansas tailback Rawleigh Williams leads the SEC with 1209 yards on 35 more carries.

So what gives? Pettway averages 139 rushing yards a game, but the Bama defense has not allowed more than 114 rushing yards in any single game this season. Bama's defense hasn't given up a rushing touchdown in the month of November! And here's something to ponder: Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee order up runs 70 percent of the time- that means that Phi Bama Slama will be pinning those ears back and letting loose. Here's another stat to chew on: Alabama stands behind only San Diego State and Washington in allowing fewest runs of 20 or more yards per game. If Pettway can't get it going North-South, don't look for Kerryon Johnson to get it going east-west.

And if the Auburn ground game can't get it going? Well, it could be a long night for the Tigers, as they could find themselves in too many third-and-long pass situations. As Coach Malzahn said the other day, "When the Tide know it's a pass situation, mayhem follows". How ugly could it get for Sean White/Jeremy Johnson? Picture a teenager working at Best Buy and being put in charge of opening the doors on Black Friday. 

How important will it be for the Tigers to keep the chains moving? The stat is telling: In Auburn's 8 wins the Tigers have converted 53% of their third down tries. In their 3 losses that conversion rate stood at 24%.  The good news for the Tigers? If Sean White can find time to go deep, the Bama defense stands 90th in the nation in allowing pass plays of over 10 yards.

So there you have it: Key #1: The Bama defensive front vs Kamryn Pettway and the Auburn offense.

The other area that you will be talking about when you return to work? 

Alabama Quarterback Jalen Hurts vs The Auburn Defense

I'm just wondering if the Bama quarterback has ever broken a sweat. This kid is cooler than a brain freeze, and he could give a very strong Auburn defense fits.  While the pass efficiency ratings of Hurts and White are exactly the same (149.6), it's what Hurts can do with his legs that is impressing Heisman voters like myself.

While Sean White has passed for 1644 yards and 9 TD's this season, Hurts' stats are through the roof. He's passed for 2168 yards and 19 TD's and rushed for 803 yards and 11 TD's. We're talking nearly 3,000 total yards of offense and 30 TD's in 2016, and he's not done yet.

The dilemma for the Auburn defense? How to play this dude: Do they bring the heat only to see Hurts snake out of trouble? Do they drop back in coverage and watch Hurts run to the boundary? Let's face it- Hurts has turned into an extra tailback, totally confusing defenses and not breathing hard in doing so. A superb Auburn defense has not allowed a rushing touchdown in two months. Think about impressive that feat really is- and now think to yourself if you truly believe they can hold the Crimson Tide to without a rushing score on Saturday.

Can the Auburn defense hold Hurts in check? Defensive linemen like Montravius Adams are hosses, but even Lawson's impressive 2016 sack numbers are upstaged by, well... Bama!

SEC Sack Leaders in 2016:

No. 3 Carl Lawson     (9)
No. 7 Tim Williams     (8)
No. 8 Jonathan Allen  (7)
          Ryan Anderson (7)

See what I mean? 

I can guess that you know where I'm going on this Iron Bowl pick but before the numbers a few final thoughts:  Alabama owns the nation's longest current win streak at 23, but remember that during that streak the Tide has beaten opponents by an average of 25 points.  On the flip side, you have a coach in Gus Malzahn who hasn't slept in the two years since the last time the teams met in Tuscaloosa. That was the game in which Auburn put up 623 total yards and 44 points... and lost the game. Malzahn has personally told me that the 2014 games has eaten at him, but Karlac has, to be honest with Gus and every other Auburn fan hoping for a win: It's not going to happen.

If the Alabama football team is a snake, it's a boa constrictor. The pressure builds slowly yet never reverses course. By the fourth quarter of nearly every game, Bama squeezes the life out of the opponent. That's what is going to happen at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. All you have to watch are the two keys that I have provided, the two keys that will determine the outcome of this contest: The Alabama rush defense and Jalen Hurts.

The Final: Karlac Says 31-21 Alabama.

And another prediction for you: Next August, eight baby girls named Crimson and six boys named Saban will come into the world. They will each be loved by their parents and their family dog named Nick. Another college football season will soon be near, and while they may be too young to realize it, they will have joined the Crimson Tide nation in declaring that all is right with the world.

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