Iron Bowl Predictions: 17 of 18 Alabama sports editors, writers - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Iron Bowl Predictions: 17 of 18 Alabama sports editors, writers pick Crimson Tide over Tigers

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Alabama is the favorite of 17 out of 18 state editors and college football writers heading into Saturday's game with Auburn. (AP Photo/Dave Martin) Alabama is the favorite of 17 out of 18 state editors and college football writers heading into Saturday's game with Auburn. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Alabama is the favorite of 17 out of 18 state editors and college football writers heading into Saturday's game with Auburn. The average score from their annual Iron Bowl predictions: Alabama 32.6, Auburn 22.8. Last year, Alabama was the pick of 22 of 23 voters by an average score of 40.6-8.7 and won 49-0.

Here are their comments and picks:

Johnathan Bentley, Daily Mountain Eagle

"Saturday's Iron Bowl matches strength vs. strength with Alabama's defense going up against Auburn's rushing attack. Alabama's defense will win out. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn will keep the Tigers close, but Alabama and Nick Saban always seem to be at their best in the big games.

Alabama 38, Auburn 26.

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Marq Burnett, The Anniston Star

"Alabama will contain Auburn's rushing attack, and Nick Marshall won't be able to make enough plays passing the ball. Also, Auburn's defense will struggle to stop Alabama's offense. "

Alabama 34, Auburn 17.

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Michael Casagrande, al.com

"The first half will be entertaining, but Alabama will separate itself as the sun begins to set. Without a dangerous passing game, it'll be difficult for Auburn to hang for all 60 minutes."

Alabama 35, Auburn 24.

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Kim Craft, Gadsden Times

"Defense determines the outcome. I think Alabama stops the run better than Auburn, which needs big pass plays or special teams highlight-reel plays to win. Alabama has more than enough talent to keep that from happening."

Alabama 28, Auburn 17.

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James Crepea, Montgomery Advertiser

"Auburn will have explosive plays and be able to run the ball. Alabama will score or make a big stop to win."

Alabama 34, Auburn 27.

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Tommy Deas, The Tuscaloosa News

"The best team usually wins in this rivalry. Auburn has had a great bounce-back season, but Alabama appears to be the best team."

Alabama 37, Auburn 16.

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Mark Edwards, The Anniston Star

"Iron Bowls often produce unlikely heroes. Ray Ogden in 1964, Bill Newton and David Langner in 1972, Van Tiffin in 1985, Tre Smith in 2002. This year, how about Alabama kicker Cade Foster with the winning field goal?"

Alabama 24, Auburn 23.

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Joel Erickson, al.com

"Gus Malzahn digs deep to come up with some wrinkles the Tigers haven't shown at any point this season, and Auburn's defense, sparked by Dee Ford, comes up with enough big plays to hang on late."

Auburn 31, Alabama 28.

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Justin Ferguson, The Auburn Plainsman

"Auburn has made unbelievable strides this season under Gus Malzahn, but I do not think the Tigers are quite where they need to be to beat the Tide at this point. I see Auburn racing out to an early lead in front of a vocal home crowd, but a strong and deep Alabama team will grind its way to another hard-fought victory."

Alabama 30, Auburn 20.

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Andrew Gribble, al.com

"The Crimson Tide's methodical, time-consuming offense keeps the ball out of the hands of Nick Marshall and the Tigers offense, which will find some yards, but not enough on the ground, to pull the upset."

Alabama 31, Auburn 16.

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Jon Johnson, Dothan Eagle

"Comparable offenses and comparable special teams play. The biggest difference between the two teams is on the defensive side, where Alabama owns an obvious advantage. The game won't be decided until deep into the fourth quarter. "

Alabama 31, Auburn 23.

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Rob Ketcham, The Cullman Times

"Auburn's proven to be one of the best teams in the country. But they're not the best. That title still belongs to Alabama. "

Alabama 35, Auburn 24.

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Brandon Marcello, al.com

"Auburn gets its running game revved up, but Alabama steps up in the red zone and the Tide wins the fourth quarter."

Alabama 31, Auburn 27.

Brent Maze, Hartselle Enquirer

"AJ McCarron has too many weapons at his disposal. ... Auburn won't have enough passing to loosen up the Alabama run defense for the entire game."

Alabama 37, Auburn 29.

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Ken Rogers, Dothan Eagle:

"Both teams have playmakers, but Alabama has more of them, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Crimson Tide's better balance on offense makes the difference."

Alabama 37, Auburn 20.

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Jon Solomon, al.com

"Auburn settles for too many field goals. Auburn stays close for a while. Alabama grinds out a draining win before an emotionally charged crowd."

Alabama 31, Auburn 23.

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Marc Torrence, Crimson White

"Alabama will slow down Auburn's rushing attack, and the Tigers won't be able to stop the Tide on offense."

Alabama 35, Auburn 24.

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Christopher Walsh, 247Sports:

"Unless Auburn fares better on turnovers one has to wonder how well the Tigers will be able to move the ball against the Tide, which recently has been stifling against the run. ... On paper Alabama is the team to beat. "

Alabama 30, Auburn 17.

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