1. The defense
When Auburn has kept games close, it has been because the defense has played its heart out. When the Tigers entered the fourth quarter tied at 17 with top-ranked Georgia, it was because of Ron Roberts’ unit.
During the Tigers’ three-game SEC winning streak, it was also the defense that led their victories. They held Vanderbilt to 15 points, Mississippi State to 13, and Arkansas to just 10.
The improvement on this side of the ball from a year ago is exciting. After allowing 29.5 points per game a season ago, Auburn is a whole touchdown better, giving up just 22.5.
Alabama’s offense has improved mightily as the season has progressed, so completely stopping Milroe and Co. is going to be a tall task. If the Tiger offense follows the gameplan of gaining first downs and eating clock, the defense will be fresh deep into the second half. That will go a long way in slowing down the Tide.
This unit has playmakers, and if guys like Eugene Asante, Jaylin Simpson, and Donovan Kaufman can replicate their season-long success on Saturday, it will go a long way towards keeping this game tight.