Network Notebook: Alabama at Auburn

ALABAMA WILL BE BETTER PREPARED THAN GEORGIA WAS FOR DANGEROUS AUBURN

Two Saturdays ago, the Auburn Tigers upset then #1 Georgia in blowout fashion between the hedges at Jordan-Hare Stadium. This coming Saturday afternoon, another chance to take out the team atop the Playoff Poll when hated state rival #1 Alabama comes to visit in a game that will be nationally televised by CBS.

While Auburn is just as potent talent-wise right now as they were when Georgia came calling, they will have lost some of the "intangible" advantages they enjoyed that afternoon.

*Alabama won't come in as overconfident as Georgia was
*Alabama won't panic if they fall behind the way Georgia did
*Alabama knows what Auburn is capable of, Georgia didn't believe it
*Auburn no longer has the "nobody believes in us" motivation that helped trigger the rout

Auburn is no secret any more. The betting markets are giving them a lot of respect with an underdog line just above a field goal (nobody's ever priced that close to Alabama!). The Playoff Poll has them positioned to crash the Final Four as a two-loss team if they can win out. There was a time it was thought impossible for a two-loss team to play for the title. This is a clash of titans, not a team of little Rudy's hoping they can be a giant-killer.

Other edges Alabama has over Georgia in terms of cover potential:

*Alabama has a much more versatile offense
*Alabama can play from behind before pulling away late
*Alabama is used to "clash of the titans" games, Georgia was not
*Alabama has all the game film to study from the Georgia defensive debacle!
*Alabama has had this game CIRCLED all season, while Georgia was recently thinking down the road rather than thinking they had to circle anything until the SEC Championship.

Auburn is fully capable of springing the short upset. But, they're going to get the very best that an experienced, balanced, prepared juggernaut has to offer...rather than the Georgia implosion that helped make that prior upset so easy.

Whenever motivation "cancels out," handicapping the game comes down to position-by-position skill set matchups. With that in mind, the full TEAM of NETWORK handicapping experts will be focusing on these issues:

*What went wrong for Auburn at Clemson? What were the position-by-position breakdowns that prevented the Tigers from even moving the ball let alone scoring any touchdowns earlier this season in that disappointing loss to last year's National Champions? If you only focus on the Georgia game, Auburn seems like a great bet as a home dog vs. Alabama. They won't be a great bet if they can't score any TD's....and they couldn't against Clemson. They also fell apart in the second half of the LSU game.

*What adjustments has Auburn made through the second half of the season? Auburn has certainly been playing like a Final Four caliber team since the loss at LSU (who turned out to be better than many were thinking at the time of that second Auburn defeat). Were the adjustments schematic? Were they personnel related? Were they about play-calling, which is a skill-set of the coaching staff? Is it possible that...given the success of recent adjustments...that Auburn is actually "even better than Alabama" right now in terms of true performance expectation?

*What beats Alabama? Alabama has clearly been the dynasty team of the sport in the Nick Saban era. But, they don't win every game...and they don't win the championship every year. In fact, they almost lost to Mississippi State two weeks ago, surviving a nailbiter finish. If you know Alabama's kryptonite, it's much easier to determine whether or not Auburn has any hidden in their arsenal. Has Auburn risen to the level of last year's Clemson team that bullied Alabama down the stretch of the National Championship game?

This is going to be one of the most heavily bet college football games of the regular season. Everyone will be watching. Most who watch will want to bet. That's why we'll be adding our resources "behind the lines" in Las Vegas and offshore to the analytical mix. Will public money warp the line in a way that offers value? Will sportsbooks accept a position against the public...in a game where the public has the right side? That's been happening often in the colleges this season...and is a common issue whenever Alabama is at its best. The market often underprices Nick Saban!

JIM HURLEY has the rest of the week to get to the bottom of things. He has an inkling now of how he's going to play this one for his customers. But, a lot can change with the betting line and on the sidelines between now and game day. Be sure you build your bankrolls all through Thanksgiving Week with high grade football and basketball selections. You can purchase BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours.

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