Nov. 30, 2013
Here comes Tre Mason and Auburn on Iron Bowl Saturday (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. – Reese Dismukes' brother, Jonah, was a kicker at Alabama, so a win in Saturday's Iron Bowl would be something a bit personal for the Auburn center.
"I'd like to call him up and laugh in his face," Dismukes joked. "Other than that, it's the Iron Bowl. It's the biggest game you play at Auburn."
The biggest game you play at Auburn begins Saturday at 2:40 p.m., officially, with the Southeastern Conference West title and BCS implications at stake. No. 1 Alabama is 11-0. No. 4 Auburn is 10-1. No Iron Bowl has ever featured both teams ranked so high.
The showdown on the stat sheet pits the best running team in the SEC, and the No. 2-ranked rushing team in America, against Alabama's top-ranked run defense.
"Obviously, you see that all week, but I don't think it's really like we're the No. 1 rush offense, they're the No. 1 rush defense. I don't think we've really looked at it like that," Dismukes said. "We just look at them on film and see what they've got and see what we've got and try to do the best we can."
Auburn beat Alabama 28-27 three years ago after rallying from a 24-0 deficit, and went on to win the BCS national championship. But the last two years have been decidedly in Alabama's favor, including last year's 49-0 victory.
"I think they tried to break their scoreboard last year. It wasn't too fun," Dismukes said. "We'll just go out there and fight and try to win the game. They're a great football team and we're going to have to play our best game."
Auburn's Gus Malzahn wasn't around for last year's loss, but he was around for the 2010 win. Now, his surprising Tigers are in double-digit wins, just like that team.
"Each game they have gotten better," Malzahn said. "The first half of the season, we weren't there yet. We are getting closer, but there are still areas of improvement."
Malzahn said the closest comparisons to the 2010 team comes "probably the focus and their ability to find ways to win at the end of the game. That's been something that I have been very impressed with about our team. They have found different ways to win; sometimes it's our offense or our defense or special teams. In the close games, they've won in some real pressure moments."
Auburn is second in the SEC in total offense, a testament to its strong running game, considering the Tigers' passing game is ranked 11th in the league.
Still, playing Auburn is difficult, said Alabama coach Nick Saban earlier in the week. Quarterback Nick Marshall has shown an ability to make clutch throws in comeback wins, and the Tigers have a two-time 1,000-yard rusher in Tre Mason.
"It's difficult because they do a lot of multiples of things with a lot of different personnel groupings, a lot of formations, a lot of motions, a lot of adjustments, which I think is very challenging to the players," Saban said. "And they do all this fast and they execute it extremely well, and they have good players. A combination of all these things makes it a very difficult preparation."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine