Tide seniors could go 0-fer their career

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Most would have thought that this week we would be talking about a Southeastern Conference West title in the same breath as the Iron Bowl, but one team dropped the ball.

Not just once, but twice. Well, make that about six times.

I'm not going to say which team that was, but it wasn't the one which came out on top between the hedges in Athens, Ga.

Even though Saturday's game between Alabama and Auburn may not have an SEC West title on the line, there's plenty more for both schools.

For Alabama a win over Auburn could be a springboard for the Crimson Tide to earn a trip to a Bowl Championship Series game mostly likely against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

But for that to happen, it will take more than just one offensive touchdown to claim a victory over the conference's No. 1-ranked offense in scoring and total yards.

It seems amazing that we are even discussing a BCS bowl berth for a team and its coach that were considered suspect back in June. There was talk back at SEC Media Days in July that Mike Shula was one of a few coaches who may be on the coaching hot seat.

Now, I'd say that Shula is in the catbird seat. Look for him to get a significant pay raise. I'm not saying that Shula will be pulling in a contract like that of Florida coach Urban Disaster (Meyer), but I wouldn't be surprised if Shula signs a five-year extension paying him almost $2.25 million a year.

Over in Auburn, the Tigers have a slim chance of landing a BCS bowl berth. However, Tommy Tuberville and company look to land a date with Ohio State in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

Of course that bowl berth would hinge on whether LSU beats Georgia in the SEC Championship game. Should Georgia knock off LSU, look for Auburn to be headed to either the Cotton Bowl or the Outback Bowl.

In addition to another year of bragging rights, Auburn and Alabama have a number of prize recruits who will make their decision which team they will play for next fall. Both teams have a number of commitments already, but there are a few like Nease (Fla.) High quarterback Tim Tebow who may make his decision on whether to come to Alabama next fall based on the Iron Bowl's outcome.

Auburn and Alabama's senior class also have a lot on the line this Saturday. Should Auburn win, then the Tigers' seniors would go out having never lost to Alabama. Certainly Brodie Croyle and the rest of the Tide seniors would like to go out having tasted victory over the Tigers at least once in their careers.

From a prognostigator's standpoint, this game looks easy to predict. Auburn has a lot of offense and a decent defense, while Alabama has little to no offense and one of the best defenses in the country.

What does all that mean?

It means that that this Iron Bowl, like many before it will come down to the last minute.

There are a number of keys for both teams, but here's a look at the big ones for both schools.

Brandon Cox can't afford to make a mistake because Alabama's defense will make him pay.

Alabama's offense has got to find the end zone or it could be 0-fer for the Tide seniors.

In most cases I tend to shy away from the obvious picks when it comes to college football. But this seems like this is a safe pick this year.

Auburn wins 14-12.

Oh yea, I have been reminded by my father — who is an Auburn fan — that I owe the Auburn nation an apology since I said in a previous column that the Tigers would not win too many games given their lackluster performance and loss to Georgia Tech.

Here's your apology Auburn fans.

There, ya happy now, dad?

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.