Nick Saban sure is going out of his way to compliment Auburn before his Alabama team faces the Tigers in the Iron Bowl this weekend. Gee, I wonder why?
On Monday, Saban said the following:
Yeah, sure Nick. Auburn is better than No. 1 LSU. Yep, got it.
It's clear what Saban is doing by talking up Auburn. Alabama has not had a tough road this season yet somehow the Crimson Tide appear likely to slide into the College Football Playoff if Georgia loses the SEC title game.
The combined record of the six SEC teams Alabama has beaten is 27-38. The Crimson Tide missed both Florida and Georgia this season and their conference loss came at home to LSU. They had a ridiculously easy schedule by SEC standards this season.
In the non-conference, Alabama beat Duke (4-7), New Mexico State (2-9), Southern Miss (7-4) and Western Carolina (3-9). That means the combined record of Alabama's opponents this season was 55-68. Not exactly a murderer's row of opponents. Oh, and the Crimson Tide didn't play any non-conference games on the road.
Over the past week or so, there has been a groundswell of support for a team like Utah to get into the playoff over Alabama. As a result, Saban needs to act like a win over Auburn would be a big deal. That's what he's doing here and it's a fairly obvious ploy.