Auburn vs. Alabama NCAAF Week 13 Betting Preview: Take Auburn and the Points

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Interim head coach Carnell Williams of the Auburn Tigers celebrates with linebacker Derick Hall and running back Damari Alston after defeating the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 19, 2022. Michael Chang/Getty Images/AFP

What makes the Auburn Tigers the right NCAAF pick for Saturday’s Iron Bowl versus the Alabama Crimson Tide? Points – lots of them. 

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Auburn Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide 

Saturday, November 26, 2022 – 03:30 PM EST at Bryant-Denny Stadium 
 

Some Iron Bowls are more competitive than others. The Alabama Crimson Tide (9-2 SU, 5-6 ATS) can usually be counted on to bring a championship-quality side to this classic rivalry game; the Auburn Tigers (5-6 SU and ATS) have had some good years, too, but this isn’t one of them. 
 
That suits our college football picks just fine. Auburn is priced as 22.5-point road dogs at Bookmaker for Saturday’s Iron Bowl matchup, enough points to make the Tigers worth your standard one-unit bet against the spread – and 82% of early bettors agree, according to the consensus reports as we go to press. 
 


Isn’t Alabama Way Better Than Auburn? 

Of course. The Crimson Tide don’t like to take their foot off the gas, especially against Auburn; they’re 6-0 SU and 4-2 ATS when laying at least 20 points to the Tigers, all since Nick Saban took over at Tuscaloosa 15 years ago. 

But is 22.5 points better? Not according to the projections we’re looking at; for example, Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today has Alabama winning by a range of around 17-22 points using his various metrics, and that 17 points are from his “Recent” formula – 17.04 points, to be precise. 

Indeed, the recent results for ‘Bama have not been good. They’re 1-5 ATS in their past six games, including crushing losses to Tennessee (+9.5 at home) and LSU (+13.5 at home) that have whittled the Tide’s College Football Playoff chances down to 6% at FiveThirtyEight. 

You could argue that the Tide deserves to be in the title hunt. They rank fourth overall (No. 12 offense, No. 6 defense) on the F+ charts at Football Outsiders, well ahead of undefeated TCU in eighth. But wins and losses have to count for something. 

More importantly for our Week 13 NCAAF picks, this is the worst team Saban has assembled since his second year at the helm in 2008 when he was still rebuilding the program. That’s according to the Simple Rating System at Sports Reference, where ‘Bama check in at plus-17.78 SRS, way down from their championship peak two years ago at plus-30.26. 

Should Auburn Keep Cadillac Williams? 

That’s not for us to say – there are many things behind the scenes that go into hiring a head coach. But before the Tigers go and snap up someone like Lane Kiffin or Hugh Freeze, maybe they should look at how well Auburn has played since they ditched Bryan Harsin on Halloween: 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS, with the only loss coming in overtime to Mississippi State (–12.5 at home) in Week 10. 

Auburn is definitely playing with more intensity under their interim head coach. Williams was a former running back for the Tigers before turning pro in 2005, then he returned to campus in 2014 to finish his sociology degree – and again in 2019 as Auburn’s running backs coach. 

Not that the Tigers need any additional motivation to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl, but a win Saturday would make them bowl-eligible, which seemed like a pipe dream before Harsin was mercifully let go. Williams seems like the right guy to rally the troops, at least for now. 

Will It Rain in Tuscaloosa? 

Sure looks that way. The forecast calls for rain starting Thursday night and continuing, on and off, through early Sunday morning. It might not rain during the game itself, but the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium should be plenty slick regardless. 

This definitely plays into our hands. There’s already a low-ish total of 49.5 points on the NCAAF odds board at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review), which is another reason to be skeptical of Alabama’s ability to cover this chunky spread. The rain should make scoring those points significantly more difficult. 

So should Auburn’s defense. It’s tricky to parse their F+ numbers for the entire season, but the Tigers do rank No. 34 overall on defense, as opposed to No. 60 on offense. And they’re definitely performing better on both sides of the ball now that Cadillac is at the controls. 

Speaking of which, one more thing about the new-look Tigers, they’re running the ball like nobody’s business

  • vs. Mississippi State: 46 carries, 256 yards 
  • vs. Texas A&M: 55 carries, 270 yards 
  • vs. Western Kentucky: 42 carries, 252 yards 

They ran the ball under Harsin a lot, too, but not this often, and not this well. It’s the right formula to keep the Iron Bowl close, so bet accordingly, and may the prolate spheroid be with you. 

NCAAF Pick: Auburn +22.5 (-109) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.