Sports writers, editors unanimously pick Alabama in Iron Bowl

The annual tradition of polling the sports writers and editors in the state of Alabama is complete. And everyone likes the Tide. Here’s the full list courtest of the Associated Press.

Alabama is the favorite of 22 out of 22 state sports editors and college football writers heading into Saturday’s game with Alabama. The average score from their annual Iron Bowl predictions: Alabama 32.6, Auburn 12.1.

Alabama was also picked by all 25 who participated in 2009.

Here are their comments and picks:

Shannon J. Allen, Sand Mountain Reporter
Unusual things can, and do, happen in the Iron Bowl, but in most years the best team wins. Alabama is the best team this year and should have plenty of motivation following last year’s embarrassing collapse in Tuscaloosa. Expect a young Auburn team to put up a valiant fight, but in the end, Alabama’s defense and the running of Trent Richardson will be the difference.
Alabama 31, Auburn 14.

Charlie Bennett, Anniston Star
Alabama’s just on a different level. (See LSU). Auburn’s only edge may be on special teams and that’s not enough. Check back next year for a more competitive game.
Alabama 42, Auburn 10.

Johnathan Bentley, Daily Mountain Eagle
Alabama heads to Auburn seeking revenge from last year’s biggest collapse in school history. The Tigers don’t have Cam Newton and Nick Farley around to stop them. The Tigers were able to nearly pull off an upset at home two years ago against a heavily favored Alabama team. No such luck this time. The Tide’s No. 1-ranked defense won’t allow it. Auburn’s four losses have come by a total of 111 points. Add a few more points to that total.
Alabama 31, Auburn 10.

Michael Casagrande, The Decatur Daily
I’m not sure about “never again,” so let’s settle on “not this year.” Too much Trent Richardson and Dont’a Hightower and not enough Cam Newton and Nick Fairley spell trouble for the Tigers. Two years ago the SEC championship rematch with Florida created pre-Iron Bowl distractions. Now Auburn is the object of year-long calls for retribution. Ask Tim Tebow, he’ll tell you that’s bad news for the Tigers.
Alabama 38, Auburn 10.

Kim Craft, Gadsden Times
Alabama puts too many playmakers on the field for this one to be close. The Crimson Tide’s top-ranked defense stands strong, while the Auburn defense won’t be able to contain Trent Richardson.
Alabama 31, Auburn 7.

Tommy Deas, Tuscaloosa News
Auburn’s defense has been inconsistent, but the Tigers’ offense has been nearly anemic against upper-level competition. Against this Alabama defense, that sounds like a mismatch. The BCS stars have been aligning for Alabama, and now it’s time for Nick Saban’s team to show it belongs in the national title game. It will.
Alabama 31, Auburn 6.

Chase Goodbread, Tuscaloosa News
An Auburn defense that typically stops the run, and typically stops the run in the Iron Bowl, hasn’t been typical this season. AU has given up close to 200 yards per game on the ground and that can make for a long afternoon against the Crimson Tide’s offensive line, which gets left tackle Barrett Jones back from injury. Yes, underdogs tend to play over their heads in this series, and Iron Bowls that don’t figure to be close often are. That said, UA is fairly sure to outrush the Tigers by at least 100 yards, and unless turnovers mitigate that advantage, Alabama should get the win.
Alabama 24, Auburn 10.

Jon Johnson, Dothan Eagle
I figure Auburn will hang in there for a while, especially with the game being played at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Eventually, however, Alabama’s brute strength in the trenches will wear down the Tigers.
Alabama 34, Auburn 13.

Don Kausler Jr., The Birmingham News
The talent gap looks wide. No. 2 Alabama has many great experienced players. Auburn has some good young ones. Alabama defeated No. 3 Arkansas 38-14. No. 3 Arkansas defeated Auburn 38-14. The Crimson Tide is out for revenge, but this is a rivalry game, and it is at Auburn.
Alabama 38, Auburn 14.

Bryan Matthews, 247Sports
True upsets are rare in the Iron Bowl and I don’t expect this year’s to offer up too many surprises. But if Auburn is to pull off an upset, these are the three things that must happen Saturday. The Tigers must be good on first down. Getting into 2nd- or 3rd-and-long against this Alabama defense is trouble. Auburn must keep it close. Last year’s team made a habit of big comebacks but this year’s team hasn’t been mature enough to stay composed when they get down. Auburn must stop Alabama’s running game. If not, Trent Richardson could have his Heisman moment in Jordan-Hare Stadium. In the end, I expect Auburn to hang in there but the better team will prevail.
Alabama 28, Auburn 17.

Brent Maze, Hartselle Enquirer
Alabama’s offense is able to score almost at will to build a big lead thanks to Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and Marquis Maze, but AJ McCarron will throw interceptions to keep Auburn in it. The Tigers will get touchdowns from each of its playmakers, Michael Dyer, Onterio McCalebb, Emory Blake and Philip Lutzenkirchen. Maybe Alabama has a special teams snafu to give Auburn a safety. But in the end, Clint Moseley will not be able to complete the game-winning drive.
Alabama 35, Auburn 30.

Mark McCarter, Huntsville Times
A month ago, I might have gone on a limb that Auburn’s defense might keep it close enough and the Tigers could pull an upset on special teams. That was four games and 126 points ago. Alabama has more at stake and I can’t see the same coaching mistakes that haunted the LSU game.
Alabama 31, Auburn 13.

Joe Medley, Anniston Star
Auburn has lost to No. 1 LSU, No. 3 Arkansas, No. 13 Georgia and No. 18 Clemson by an average of 27.8 points. Playing at home might help Auburn prolong the inevitable for a while, but No. 2 Alabama pulls away in the second half.
Alabama 35, Auburn 10.

David Morrison, Opelika-Auburn News:
Auburn gets a lift from its home crowd, but doesn’t have the experience and talent to keep up with Alabama. The Crimson Tide controls both sides of the line of scrimmage, and Trent Richardson breaks the two-year Alabama running backs curse against the Tigers with a big game.
Alabama 31, Auburn 13.

Ken Rogers, Dothan Eagle
You know, this is hard to admit. Really hard. Back when my great-grandfather predicted the 1954 Cotton Bowl between Rice and Alabama, he took Bama and the under. Predictions have haunted the Rogers’ family line ever since. I always felt like I have too much sports writer in me to pick a winner. Just too much sports writer in me. But what the heck?
Alabama 27, Auburn 17.

Jon Solomon, The Birmingham News
This Iron Bowl rests on the back of Alabama’s running game, which got shut down in the past two Iron Bowls. Auburn doesn’t have the depth or experience to do that again. Alabama’s defense shouldn’t have much trouble consistently stopping Auburn, which has played three other top-5 defenses and only scored one touchdown each time. Best prediction of all: No trees will get poisoned or statues toppled. The state won’t burn down. I think.
Alabama 31, Auburn 6.

Mike Szvetitz, Opelika-Auburn News:
Not only will Alabama be playing for a BCS title game berth, it also will have revenge on its mind. Remember last year’s Iron Bowl? In Tuscaloosa? Yeah, so does the Crimson Tide. Sure, it’s the Iron Bowl and anything — we mean, anything — can happen. But Auburn will have to play the most perfect game in all three phases to have a chance. And so far this season, the Tigers haven’t proven they can do that. But, it will be great theater.
Alabama 28, Auburn 10.

John Turner, The Huntsville Times
It took Auburn outscoring Alabama 21-3 in the second half to win in 2010. This season, the Tide is outscoring opponents 217-39 in the second half. “Never Again” is right.
Alabama 38, Auburn 10.

Christopher Walsh, 247Sports
A whole year of having to live with last year’s result has done nothing but stew with the Crimson Tide, which won’t let up even if it gets a big lead. Look for the defense to lead the way and the offensive to continue to grind away in the second half.
Alabama 34, Auburn 10.

Evan Woodbery, Mobile Press-Register:
Upsets happen every week and there’s no reason there couldn’t be one in Auburn on Saturday, but the last month of football has offered little evidence to make an Auburn stunner seem likely. The Tigers have struggled on both sides of the ball and their prospects against Alabama’s punishing defense look grim.
Alabama 38, Auburn 17.

John Zenor, Associated Press
Auburn has two big offensive weapons, tailback Mike Dyer and receiver Emory Blake. An offense needs more than that — including a downright brutish physicality — to really challenge Alabama’s defense. On the flip side, I think Trent Richardson makes a Heisman Trophy statement against a young defensive front that has been outmuscled at times.
Alabama 27, Auburn 6.

Brad Zimanek, Montgomery Advertiser
It will take an almost perfect game from Auburn to be competitive after halftime. Auburn’s offensive and defensive fronts have been overmatched and inconsistent the past month and there is no indication it will change dramatically even in a game against their fierce rivals.
Alabama 34, Auburn 13.

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