No. 1 Alabama hosts No. 22 Auburn days minus Nick Saban

No. 22 Auburn (5-2, 5-2 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 7-0, No. 1 CFP), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EST (CBS).

Line: Alabama by 24 1/2.

Series record: Alabama leads 46-37–1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

A win keeps Alabama squarely on the path toward the Southeastern Championship game and a potential playoff shot. It’s also the toughest remaining regular-season test for the Crimson Tide, which will be without coach Nick Saban after his positive COVID-19 test. The Tigers have shaken off an embarrassing loss to South Carolina. Auburn has a chance to remake its season completely if it can win this game and next week against No. 5 Texas A&M. An Iron Bowl win alone would go a long way, too.

KEY MATCHUP

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and the nation’s No. 3 passing offense against Roger McCreary and Auburn’s secondary. The Crimson Tide is averaging 366.1 yards a game through the air. Auburn is allowing a middle-of-the-pack 237 yards on average, but has picked off six passes and allowed just three passing touchdowns over the last four games. Smoke Monday’s 100-yard interception return marked a turning point in the win over Tennessee.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Auburn: QB Bo Nix has played well since a three-interception performance in a loss to South Carolina. He has passed for five touchdowns and been picked just once since then, while adding a pair of rushing scores. Nix may need to make plays with both his arm and his feet if Auburn is to keep up with Alabama’s high-scoring offense.

Alabama: WR Devonta Smith has been even more prolific than usual since the season-ending injury to Jaylen Waddle. Smith, who just set the SEC record for career receiving touchdowns, has caught 20 passes for 347 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games.

FACTS & FIGURES

Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will lead the team on game day. … This is just the 18th Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa, where Alabama has won the past four meetings. The Tide is 8-5 in the Iron Bowl under Saban. Auburn’s Gus Malzahn is 3-4 with three losses at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Only Auburn’s Shug Jordan (9, 1951-75) and Alabama’s Bear Bryant (19, 1958-82) have won more times in the rivalry than Saban. … Alabama has lost just two games to teams ranked outside the top 15 since the start of the 2008 season (No. 19 South Carolina in 2010, No. 16 Auburn in 2019). No other FBS team has dropped fewer than 10 games to such teams during that span. … Auburn is the only SEC team that has not allowed more than 30 points in a game this season

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