Iron Bowl Matchup: Alabama’s Jalen Hurts vs. Auburn’s Carl Lawson

To help prepare for Saturday’s 81st annual Iron Bowl, BamaHammer.com will spotlight a critical Iron Bowl Matchup each day. Today’s matchup is Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts vs. Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson.

To help prepare for Saturday’s 81st annual Iron Bowl, BamaHammer.com will spotlight a critical Iron Bowl Matchup each day. Today’s matchup is Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts vs. Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson.

How Hurts is able to negotiate the Auburn defense will be among the top elements to watch in Saturday’s Iron Bowl (2:30 pm CT, CBS), and no player could present more problems for the multi-dimensional Hurts than Lawson.

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Hurts has been perhaps the biggest surprise of the year for undefeated Alabama. The true freshman took over the Crimson Tide defense midway through the first half of the first game of the season against Southern Cal and hasn’t looked back – passing for 2,139 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushing for 803 yards and a team-high 11 scores.

Nov 12, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive tackle Montravius Adams (1) and defensive lineman Carl Lawson (55) sack Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jacob Eason (10) during the second quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Hurts’ multi-dimensional talents have kept Alabama opponents guessing all season, to the benefit of the stable of Tide running backs. Damien Harris has only been burdened with 115 carries for a team-high 850 rushing yards, and Joshua Jacobs (484 yards) and Bo Scarborough (358 yards) have been able to keep Harris fresh.

Looming large for Hurts and Alabama is an Iron Bowl Matchup with Carl Lawson, a returning team captain for Auburn who is the heart of the Tigers defense.

Lawson is a pass-rush specialist, having notched a team-high 9 sacks this season. But a full half of his 25 tackles are for loss (12.5 TFL), meaning he is in opponents’ backfields all game long.

Lawson needs three sacks to pass Nick Fairley for the school’s single-season sack record.

“Carl has been one of our top players and one of the best players in college football,” said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on last week. “He has stayed healthy this year and has been a big-time impact player. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he accomplishes that.”

The Crimson Tide and Tigers will meet for the 81st time in series history, with Alabama owning the all-time advantage, 44-35-1. Most recently, the Tide claimed a 29-13 victory in Auburn to clinch the SEC Western Division title and close out the 2015 regular season schedule.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 8-6 in his career against Auburn, including a 5-3 overall mark while with the Crimson Tide and a 3-1 record at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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