Auburn vs Samford

Auburn quarterback Bo Nix (10) and running back Harold Joiner (22) react after Joiner scores against Samford on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Aside the weather, which was horrendous, Saturday’s 52-0 win over Samford offered all the fun that an FCS versus SEC matchup is supposed to provide.

The offensive and defensive starters for Auburn each worked well in the first half and were able to run up a big lead.

Seth Williams and JaTarvious Whitlow each made defenders look silly as they tried to tackle them. The defense forced a couple turnovers, including a stellar interception on the sideline from Jeremiah Dinson.

The backups got in and were certainly entertaining. The cult of Cord Sandberg likely added a couple of followers — the backup quarterback is always the most popular guy in town, right?

Saturday looked like how a top-15 team is supposed to handle an FCS foe. Alabama handled Western Carolina in similar fashion in Tuscaloosa. The smiles and jokes will quickly turn this week, though, as the Tide and the Tigers now shift their focus to the game that defines both teams’ seasons.

Iron Bowl week is here.

Neither Alabama nor Auburn will be able to take much from this week’s victories that will help them next week. The stakes are certainly large next week.

For Auburn, the Iron Bowl is a chance to keep the goal of a 10-win season alive and the chance to increase its standing in the bowl pecking order.

Most importantly though, it is the opportunity to play spoiler against its biggest rival. With Alabama sitting at No. 5 in the latest ranking and No. 4 Georgia still having a potential SEC Championship loss to LSU on the horizon, the Tide look poised to sneak into the College Football Playoff.

Alabama has a pair of Pac-12 teams in Oregon and Utah nipping at its heels though, and with Oregon’s lone loss to Auburn, the Iron Bowl is the opportunity to add some much-needed style points to a fairly bland playoff resume.

Even without their Heisman-candidate quarterback, Alabama’s offense is overflowing with NFL players. With four receivers, a running back and several offensive linemen that will be cashing NFL pay checks in the next couple seasons, the Auburn defense will have its hands full.

Offensively, the Tigers will need the best game of the season from Bo Nix, who, despite ‘Cord Mania’, is clearly the only quarterback Auburn hopes to use in the Iron Bowl. Nix has been playing better of late, but an over-throw on an easy touchdown to Shedrick Jackson is an example of a play the Tigers can’t afford to miss next week.

The running game, passing game, defense and special teams all need to be clicking next week in Jordan-Hare. They have all shown plenty of flashes, but it is time to put it all together.

What better time than the Iron Bowl.

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