TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama will close out the 2023 regular season with a trip to Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 25. The Crimson Tide (10-1, 7-0 SEC) will look to complete a perfect conference record before playing in the SEC Championship Game one week later. Meanwhile, the Tigers (6-5, 3-4) limp into the Iron Bowl having lost to New Mexico State the previous week.
Despite the 31-10 loss to the Aggies, Alabama isn’t looking down on its in-state rival.
“Obviously, the Iron Bowl is one of the great rivalry games in college football,” head coach Nick Saban said. “Something that you look forward to as a competitor. It’s also something that is a great opportunity to be able to play in. I don’t think that anybody needs to pay attention to what happened in the past, what happened in the last game, what somebody’s record is.
“Anytime you play in a rivalry game, it’s going to be a highly competitive, tough, very physical game. That’s what everybody needs to get ready for.”
Auburn was held to 213 yards of total offense and was 2-for-10 on third down, while its defense gave up 414 yards to New Mexico State. The Tigers enter the final regular-season contest with the SEC’s 10th-best total offense (357.2 ypg) and the No. 6 total defense (352.9 ypg).
To open his Monday press conference, Saban shared his thoughts on Auburn’s season.
“Hugh Freeze has done a fantastic job there with his team this year,” Saban said. “They’ve played very competitively in all their games. They’re 6-5, they’ve won some games really well but they do a great job of running the football. I think that they’ve got a very difficult offense to prepare for with the multiples that they give you, the different ways that they run the ball, the way both quarterbacks really can add to the running game. Tight end, (Rivaldo Fairweather), is a really good player, really good receiver. (Jay Fair) is a really good receiver.
“Defensively, they’ve played really well all year long. They’ve got some good players, got some edge rushers. They’ve got some people that create some problems for you as well as they’re very good on special teams. They’re very aggressive in terms of what they do on special teams. They’ve got really good specialists, the kicker and the punter both are leaders in the SEC. This is a challenging game for us, and I think our guys need to have the right mindset of what it’s going to take to be successful in a game like this, especially playing on the road.”
Saban is 13-8 in his career against Auburn, including an 11-5 overall mark in Iron Bowl games as the head coach at Alabama. His teams at LSU went 2-3 against the Tigers from 2000-04. In games played at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Saban’s Tide teams have posted a 4-4 record.
While Alabama is more than a two-touchdown favorite and has a chance to win four in a row in the Iron Bowl rivalry for the first time since 1981, Saban expects another difficult road test.
“If we’re going to have success there, we’re going to have to execute,” Saban said. “I mean, any time you play on the road in this league, it’s a difficult place to play. This is no different. But people talk about all the crazy stuff that happens in this game. But since I’ve been here, the team that should have won the game won the game based on who played the best.
“So I think the focus needs to be on how are we going to play and how are we going to execute and do what we do and what kind of consistency are we going to be able to maintain in a difficult environment. We’ve had this challenge several times before, and this one’s going to be just as difficult as any of the rest.”
This season’s Iron Bowl matchup will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT and will air live on CBS.
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