State sports writers pick No. 2 Alabama to beat No. 15 Auburn in Iron Bowl

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Alabama is the favorite of 19 of 19 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 22.1. Last year, Alabama was the pick of 17 of 18 voters by an average score of 32.6-22.8 and Auburn won 34-28. Here are their comments and picks:


Marq Burnett, Anniston Star

"This year's Alabama defense is much better than the one Auburn's offense faced last year. Led by Blake Sims, Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon, Alabama's offense should have a big day against Auburn's defense. "

Alabama 34, Auburn 20.


Alex Byington, Opelika-Auburn News

"Once again, this is a game that could come down to the final minutes — or even the final second — to determine a winner. Given Auburn's slow starts of late, Alabama will mount an early advantage, and then hold off the Tigers' eventual comeback attempt with a fourth-quarter defensive stand."

Alabama 27, Auburn 24.


Michael Casagrande, Alabama Media Group

"Alabama has more on the line and Nick Saban-coached teams have fared well in revenge games recently. The Auburn offense will still score, just not enough."

Alabama 31, Auburn 21.


Kim Craft, Gadsden Times

"Auburn has given up more than 30 points in each of its last five Southeastern Conference games and I don't see that changing Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama will stop Auburn's rushing attack and show why its run defense is better than most anyone's in the country. "

Alabama 31, Auburn 21.


James Crepea, Montgomery Advertiser

"Auburn's defense has been awful in the second half of the season and won't suddenly find success against Amari Cooper. If the Crimson Tide goes up by 14-plus before halftime, it could be very ugly for the Tigers."

Alabama 35, Auburn 24.


Gregg Dewalt, TimesDaily/Decatur Daily

"Auburn has the offense to stay with Alabama, but not the defense. "

Alabama 35, Auburn 24.


Mark Edwards, Anniston Star:

"Auburn's Chris Davis is the most recent to become a household name for what he did in the Iron Bowl. His successor this year will be ... Alabama receiver DeAndrew White, who will put together his biggest game of the year. "

Alabama 31, Auburn 20.


Joel Erickson, Alabama Media Group

"Auburn's defense has struggled against the SEC's best passing attacks, and Alabama's offense has been on a different level at home."

Alabama 34, Auburn 24.


Jon Johnson, Dothan Eagle

"On a hunch, Auburn keeps it close for three quarters before Alabama puts it away in the late stages of the fourth. "

Alabama 38, Auburn 27.


Rob Ketcham, Cullman Times

"This one won't come down to the last play, but it might be closer than most people think. "

Alabama 34, Auburn 24.


Cliff Kirkpatrick, Decatur Daily

"Alabama's defense has improved dramatically since last season and should be able to contain Auburn on the ground. Alabama's offense is also much better, so it's capable of winning in a shootout."

Alabama 24, Auburn 17.


Brandon Marcello, Alabama Media Group

"Gus Malzahn held a few tricks up his sleeve for the Iron Bowl, and the Tigers should start hot, but Alabama is just too strong at home. Alabama wears down Auburn in the Tigers' fifth road game against a team currently or formerly ranked in the top 10 this season. "

Alabama 35, Auburn 24.


Kirk McNair, Scout.com

"The Tide will kick one field goal, but not on the final play of the game."

Alabama 31, Auburn 21.


Charlie Potter, 247Sports

"Alabama's pass rush is much improved from a season ago, and even though Auburn's big receivers could cause some problems for the Crimson Tide's secondary I think Alabama's front seven stops the Tigers' run game and eventually wears Auburn's offense down. This could be a big day for Blake Sims and Amari Cooper, too."

Alabama 31, Auburn 20.


Duane Rankin, Montgomery Advertiser

"Auburn's defense has shown little resistance in its lasts five SEC games. Don't see that changing against Alabama."

Alabama 34, Auburn 27.


D.C. Reeves, Tuscaloosa News

"Alabama won't be interested in any field goals, but if both teams keep playing the way they have of late, the Crimson Tide shouldn't need one. A motivated Alabama team takes it comfortably at home against a struggling defense."

Alabama 35, Auburn 21.


Ken Rogers, Dothan Eagle

"Auburn is certainly good enough to win the game, but Alabama is playing for a ring and the Tigers — unlike last season — can only play spoiler. Bryant-Denny Stadium makes a difference, as it has all year."

Alabama 31, Auburn 20.


Matt Scalici, Alabama Media Group

"The Tide defense is coming into its own while the Auburn offense can't seem to shake its penalty and turnover problems."

Alabama 38, Auburn 21.


Aaron Suttles, Tuscaloosa News

"Alabama's defensive line is much more talented and deeper than last year when Auburn's running game got rolling. Auburn's offensive line isn't as dominating either. The big question is whether Alabama's offense can show the consistency it's been missing the last few games."

Alabama 30, Auburn 20.

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