This Saturday at 3:30 ET, the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide head to Jordan-Hare Stadium to face the #4 Auburn Tigers in what is set up to be a historical matchup. That's saying something for a rivalry with this much history.
Bama leads the series by eight games out of the 77 all-time thanks largely to the 1959-1981 stretch where the Tide went 19-4 threatening to turn the rivalry into a more one-sided affair. Things evened out through the 80s and 90s until Auburn won six in a row starting in 2002 including the 2004 season in which Auburn holds the official title vacated by USC. Recent history sides on Alabama's side however; they've taken four out of the last five in a stretch that includes The Beat Down in T-town in 2008 and Cam Newton's memorable comeback in 2010 helping Auburn erase a 24-0 deficit en route to a national championship of their own.
So yeah, this is one of those matchups that has carved out a corner of football history all for itself. Saturday's matchup has the opportunity to do so again. And if you're looking at it for college football's sake (which is totally fair and enjoyable for those of us who are not emotionless a draft-only FEEDMYTEAM entity...sickos), here's a great preview. But as Rams fans, are the any prospects you should be particularly interested in?
Let's take the teams as boards and then break down some matchups.
The Tigers don't have a headline prospect for the 2014, but with just one functional senior on offense and that at FB/H-Back, there's time to see someone develop the rest of this year into 2014.
On the defensive side, there are plenty of seasoned college veterans but no key options for NFL teams outside of their top pass rusher Dee Ford. Here's who I'm looking at from an NFL perspective:
|Name||POS||Yr||3k's Proj. Rd|
|Dee Ford||DE/3-4 OLB||RS Sr.||2-4|
|Greg Robinson||OT||RS Soph.||4-6|
|Sammie Coates||WR||RS Soph.||5-FA|
|Kris Frost||MLB||RS Soph.||7-FA|
|Chad Slade||G||RS Jr.||FA|
|Alex Kozan||G||RS Fr.||N/A|
- Robinson landed on a lot of radars a couple weeks ago when Mel Kiper namedropped him, but he didn't even make my big board from early October, so I'm not about to anoint him a 1st round pick based just off of Kiper...
- Speaking of, that unit's going to get really good. Lawson, Adams and Daniel are showing up as freshmen already, so prepare to look at Auburn's D-line often the next two years.
My goodness they're stacked. Their backups are stacked. Their transfers are stacked. And their recruiting class....Here's what Scouts, Inc. has them picking up:
#1s: ATH, ILB, G
#2s: WR, TE-H, OT (JC)
#3s: DE, QB-PP
#4s: DT, RB
That's 11 players who are in the top five of their positional rankings including the best middle linebacker, the best guard and the best RB who could switch positions.
Ugh. Let's just get to the prospects:
|Name||POS||Yr||3k's Proj. Rd|
Ha'Sean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix (MTD scouting report)
|Ryan Kelly||C||RS Soph.||2|
|Anthony Steen||G||RS Sr.||2-3|
|Ed Stinson||DE||RS Sr.||2-4|
|A.J. McCarron||QB||RS Sr.||2-4|
|Arie Kouandjio||G||RS Jr.||3-4|
|Brandon Ivory||NT||RS Jr.||3-5|
|Austin Shepherd||OT||RS Jr.||3-5|
|Kevin Norwood||WR||RS Sr.||FA|
- So uh...that's ridiculous. And bear in mind, there's a dozen highly rated backups I didn't include because they just haven't seen enough field time for me. So this is an NFL farm team. Don't overthink it.
- I really like Ryan Kelly. I know centers aren't the sexiest position, but Kelly's a lock for me.
- I'm not as high as many on McCarron. Experienced, great for the system, good late game focus....but doesn't exhibit the talent of top QBs. He deserves a spot though. Could be a capable backup for a team with a young QB who has the talent but hasn't seen the production level his #1 overall draft status warrants...just saying...
- Those non-draft eligible guys are good. Really good. Collins is the truth. Cooper's going to get a ton of focus next year once he's eligible. And A'Shawn Robinson? A Ft. Worth prospect who spurns Texas and Baylor in 2013 needs to show something on the field to ensure it wasn't a bad decision. Robinson has. If he has a successful stretch run, he's going to be someone people get really high on really quickly for 2014.
Auburn DE Dee Ford v. Alabama LT Cyrus Kouandjio
Dee Ford's the most talented draft-eligible defensive prospect on Auburn. Kouandjio, Cyrus-type not his brother Arie, is a highly touted likely 1st round tackle option. This is the kind of matchup that scouting is made for.
Auburn LT v. Alabama DE Ed Stinson
Robinson could end up being the highest draft pick on this roster. He'll have his hands full with Alabama's D-line including Stinson. Big Ed's getting 3-4 DE experience at Bama, but don't be surprised if an NFL team pushes him into 4-3 DT duties.
Auburn WR corps v. Alabama secondary
If you watched the insanely entertaining Auburn-Georgia game, you saw just how dependent Auburn is on its running game...and how capable they are of getting yardage on the ground. Problem is, in order to finish off a win, you have to get some aerial connections and Alabama might not give you the defensive mishap that allows you to pull off the likely play of the year. There's not a ton there - Nick Marshall isn't a special QB and the receiving corps is limited, but...if they can get anything here through sophomores Sammie Coates or Ricardo Louis, it would be a big, big plus.
Auburn linebackers v. Alabama RBs
Auburn's LB corps is their least experienced among the defense with just one senior in play. Alabama's running game is stacked with NFL talent led by T.J. Yeldon who is, well, an Alabama RB. Perhaps you've seen one in the NFL.