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Football Outsiders' Iron Bowl Preview

In their weekly college football preview, Bill Connelly, Brian Fremeau, and Robert Weintraub of Football Outsiders had this to say, among other things, about the upcoming Iron Bowl:

What does Vegas know? Four-and-a-half points seems a lot to give to an undefeated offensive juggernaut ranked No. 2 in the country, even on the road, no? The sharps may be counting on casual gamblers confusing this version of Alabama with the 2009 national champs. It is a truism of great in-state rivalries that beating your enemy while he's very good or great is far more delicious than kicking him while he's down. Therefore, the Crimson Tide have a chance for a post-Thanksgiving meal far more satisfying than the usual cold turkey sandwich. Last season was the inverse, with Auburn throwing a haymaker at Alabama's undefeated season, taking an early 14-0 lead only to fall before the relentless Tide attack. This year's game seems likely to develop similarly, as Auburn, for all their success this season, has been prone to falling behind early and waiting for Cam Newton to win the game in the second half. While the name Iron Bowl invokes the image of great backs like Shaun Alexander and Bo Jackson slamming into stalwart front sevens, this game should be decided through the air. Both defenses are vulnerable, especially in the secondary. Newton and Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy are both accurate short- and mid-range passers, capable of beating you deep. The passer that exploits mismatches created by defenders thinking run first will likely be the one who won't be eviscerated on sports radio in the Yellowhammer State for the next year. Regardless of victor, it will be as intense a game as any played this season

Good point about Auburn and slow starts this season, as they have found themselves trailing in the early stages of games frequently this year -- Clemson had a 17-point lead, South Carolina a 13-point lead, Arkansas had the lead three separate times, Georgia had a 14-point lead, etc. -- but have came through each and every time with strong second half performances. Given the struggles that we have at times in the second half this season, a strong start may be imperative to pulling out the victory tomorrow afternoon.