Football Preview: It’s Iron Bowl week for Alabama, Auburn; UAB Seeks Bowl Eligibility Against La. tech

Nick Saban remembers Auburn running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams from Saban’s days as coach of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

“Ronnie Brown and Cadillac both came out at the same time, in the same design,” Saban recalled. β€œWe thought they were both great competitors. He (Williams) was certainly a great competitor and I think his personality shows in the way his team competes.”

Cadillac the Player was a preview of Cadillac the Coach, the man who transformed a seedy Auburn football team into one that believes they can do anything — even challenge Alabama, currently No. 8 in the college football playoffs rankings.

Williams said, “We’re going to play football, Auburn football. Whether it’s the Dallas Cowboys, the University of Alabama or the great Nick Saban. Man, these kids won’t blink. We don’t blink.

“We’re thrilled. We’re excited about this opportunity,” he continued. “We want to send these seniors out, man. They deserve our best. Like I told them, trying our best doesn’t guarantee we’re going to win. “But what we can do is we can look at ourselves in the mirror and be happy with the results. We’ll put it on the line and see what happens.”

What will surely happen is that the Tigers will lean on their running game. Twice in as many games — both victories in the Carnell Williams era — Auburn has had two players rushing for more than 100 yards each.

On the other side is a squad from Alabama, who ranks fourth in fast defense in the Southeastern Conference. But Saban knows Williams and his warriors won’t let stats and rankings seal their fate. Not in this game.

“He did a great job,” the Crimson Tide coach said of his counterpart. “The energy. The enthusiasm. The way the guys compete and play. How they played to win. That was his personality as a player.”

Alabama goes into the game Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on CBS with a 9-2 aggregate record. A win would mitigate a season falling short of the standard Tide campaign, which usually includes a national championship bid.

Auburn (5-6) would be eligible to play in a bowl if it can knock out its state rival.

UAB couldn’t repeat its surprise of 2000 when it fell 41-10 to No. 6 in LSU last week. But interim head coach Bryant Vincent says this isn’t the end of the Blazer season.

“We’re 29-4 at home in Birmingham (and) we’ve won the only two championships and the only two bowl games in school history,” Vincent said. β€œThere’s a lot to be proud of and we’ll continue to do that here. Without a doubt, this football team is motivated, and this football team is focused on getting to a bowl game and qualifying for the bowl.”

The Blazers (5-6, 3-4 as they leave Conference USA for the American Athletic Conference) travel to Ruston, La. to play Louisiana Tech (3-8, 2- 5) to play network.

Troy has the inside lane, but South Alabama is still in contention for a spot in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game. Troy (9-2 overall and 5-1 in the league) needs to win only at Arkansas State (3-8, 1-6) Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

The Jaguars have the same record as the Trojans. The USA, who lost to the Trojans in the Battle of the Belt, can head into the championship game on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. with a loss to Troy and a Jaguars win over Old Dominion (3-8, 2-5).

Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the state of Alabama: The Hornets (6-4, 4-3) wrap up their season with their annual Turkey Day Classic at 2:00 p.m. Saturday. The Golden Lions arrive in the Southwestern Athletic Conference with a 2-8 overall record and a 0-7 record.

This week idle: Samford. The Southern Conference champion awaits the winner in Saturday’s Football Championship Subdivision playoffs between Idaho and Southeastern Louisiana.

Season completed: Miles, Birmingham-Southern, Tuskegee, Faulkner, West Alabama, North Alabama, Alabama A&M, Huntingdon, Jacksonville.


Class 7A: Three-time defending champion Thompson (10-3), No. 3 in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll and No. 4 Auburn (12-1) are cooling off this week. They are waiting to play against each other in the first game of the Super 7 Football Championship at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium on Wednesday, November 30 at 7 p.m. Auburn defeated Central-Phenix City 14-13 last week and Thompson defeated Hoover 40-10.

Class 6A: No. 8 Mountain Brook (11-2) visits No. 7 Muscle Shoals (11-1) in Friday’s semifinals.

Class 5A: No. 4 Ramsay (11-2) welcomes No. 3 Pleasant Grove (11-1) to their semi-final meeting Friday at Legion Field. The game is a replay of Ramsay’s win in September.

Class 4A: No. 5 Andalucia (12-1) travel to No. 1 Montgomery Catholic (13-0) in a semifinal on Friday.

Class 3A: Mobile Christian (6-7) hosts No. 7 St. James (11-2) in a semifinal on Friday. The Leopards’ loss record includes four losses by surrender.

Class 2A: No. 9 Pisgah (11-2) takes on No. 1 Fyffe (13-0) in a semi-final on Friday.
Class 1A: Pickens County (10-3) welcomes Coosa Christian (9-4) in a semifinal on Friday.