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Friday, November 27, 2009

Iron Bowl pre-game

The crowd lined up early today for Tiger Walk, as you can see. It's the calm before the storm here in the press box right now, a few hours before kickoff for today's Iron Bowl.

As usual, I'll be updating this post leading right up to the game. Follow the blog on Twitter for instant updates. I'm close to 300 followers and would like to get there soon.

It's a sunny, cool autumn day here in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Perfect for football, in my opinion. Slight breeze, but not too much.

I'll get right to the pre-game facts that you need to know:
  • Alabama leads the all-time series 39-33-1.
  • The Crimson Tide is ranked No. 2 in the BCS rankings and has already clinched its spot in next week's SEC championship game in Atlanta against Florida.
  • Seventeen of the last 21 meetings in the series have been decided by 10 points or less.
  • Auburn has not allowed a first-quarter touchdown in the series since 1996.
  • The team leading at halftime has won 74 percent of the time (54 of 73). However, since 1996, the team trailing at the half has won on five occasions (Alabama in 1996, '98 and '99; Auburn in '97 and '04).
  • The Tigers have 53 players on their roster from Alabama.
  • The ground game will be key. The team that has finished with the most rushing yards has won the last 10 Iron Bowls. Auburn is 11th nationally in rushing (219.5 ypg); Alabama is 10th (225.6).
  • Auburn's Ben Tate is 19th nationally in rushing (109.9 ypg). Alabama's Mark Ingram is second (127.1 ypg).
  • The rushing defenses are not so evenly matched. Auburn is 88th nationally (169.7 ypg); Alabama is second (70.5 ypg).
  • Auburn has had 21 scoring drives that have taken two minutes or less. Twenty-one of those have ended in touchdowns.
  • The Tigers are sixth nationally in red zone offense, scoring 94.3 percent of the time (33 of 35).
  • Auburn quarterback Chris Todd has 19 touchdown passes this year, one shy of the single-season school record set by Jason Campbell (2004) and Pat Sullivan (1971). That's pretty good company.
  • Tigers wide receiver Darvin Adams shares the SEC lead with nine touchdown receptions.
  • Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman leads the SEC with 13.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. His 22 sacks are tied for third most in school history.
  • In the last 10 Iron Bowls, Alabama has thrown eight interceptions and eight touchdowns.
12:50 update: It's 40 minutes to gametime and both teams are out for warmups. Apparently Alabama's bus arrived a little late because of a wreck on I-85. Everybody's here now though.

12:57 update: LB Eltoro Freeman is not dressed. He's standing on the sideline in his uniform but no pads. That means freshman Jonathan Evans will likely get the start at weak-side linebacker.

1:01 update: The PA announcer just ran through the starting lineups. Sure enough, Evans, who has about two solid halves of experience, will be starting at linebacker in Freeman's spot.

1:10 update: Just in case your were curious, Auburn's backup crew at linebacker is Wade Christopher in the middle and Ashton Richardson and Chris Humphries on the outside. Yes, that's three walk-ons. And one's a defensive end.

1:23: Auburn honored the 1989 team before the game on 20th anniversary of Alabama's first trip ever to Auburn. The biggest ovation was saved for Pat Dye at end.

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