Hot Reads: Roll... Eagle! - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Hot Reads: Roll... Eagle!

The good times could continue to roll for the Tigers in Auburn if they take out their rival Alabama. (Source: Todd Van Emst/ Auburn Athletics) The good times could continue to roll for the Tigers in Auburn if they take out their rival Alabama. (Source: Todd Van Emst/ Auburn Athletics)
Once Henry Josey (20) and Missouri got past Georgia, they proved they were a force in the SEC and a contender for a national title. (Source: John Kelley/Georgia Athletics) Once Henry Josey (20) and Missouri got past Georgia, they proved they were a force in the SEC and a contender for a national title. (Source: John Kelley/Georgia Athletics)

(RNN) - Die-hard football fans are not normal people. Want to know how I know that?

First, there's at least one person reading this right now who considers the combination of the Alabama and Auburn rallying cries sacrilegious. You have problems.

Also, normal people wouldn't use paint, glitter and multi-colored wigs as the only shields between their vital organs and the lethal blades of freezing temperatures. Normal people don't plan major life events around all the Saturdays between August and December.

And finally, the most solid piece of evidence, normal people can't hold their breaths for an entire week.

That's what people in Florida, Alabama, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi and California are doing right now. That's just to name a few.

Thankfully, the fans of Ole Miss and Mississippi State get their misery over with Thursday. It's not like that state needs more self-induced medical problems, am I right?

Before we get to the goodies, Hot Reads presents to you the semi-regular, semi-popular feature called "Ask a Midwesterner." This was an exciting week because I was dying to interview someone from Ohio. And after speaking with three women, I was losing hope that there was a man in Middle America willing to answer my ridiculous questions.

We killed two birds with one stone. I present to you Kevin Wallace, a father of five in Cincinnati who believes in hard work and looking out for his neighbors. Fifty years ago, his life would have made great material for a sit-com.

Hot Reads: So, it's not been the greatest year for Ohio. The Buckeyes are the most overlooked 11-0 Big Ten team in history, you had the Steubenville rape case [not to mention Ariel Castro], and Republicans blame Ohio for helping swing last year's election in favor of Obama.

Kevin Wallace: Well, Steubenville is in other corner of Ohio. The people here, especially in north Cincinnati where I live, everyone around me wakes up and goes to work, does their job, comes back and takes care of their family and takes care of their neighbor. For me, that's what you look for in a community.

HR: You have an interesting accent. It sounds like there's a little twang in it.

KW: There is some twang. I think I'm a mix because we are right here close to the South, if you consider Kentucky southern. We do get a lot of people through here that are country and a lot of people from the north. It's Ohio.

HR: So you have five kids. How much sleep do you get at night?

KW: I average about six hours. Luckily, I have a great wife. We're raising some football players - right now there's three of them, and another one running around on the sidelines. Our youngest is our only daughter, and she's going to be our cheerleader.

HR: OK, so let's get down to business. What would Ohio State's record be if they were in the SEC this season?

KW: I think they'd be in the top three, maybe come out with two losses.

HR: Just two losses? You realize I'm quoting you, right?

KW: Oh, yes sir. I know we can run with anybody, we would just have trouble stopping them. If Alabama played Ohio State in the national championship, I honestly don't think it wouldn't be like last time [HR note: Ohio State lost the 2006 BCS Championship Game 41-14 to Florida and lost 38-24 to LSU the next year]. Honestly, I could see Alabama beating us in a tight one, but not a blowout.

HR: What are Braxton Miller's chances of winning the Heisman?

KW: Honestly, I don't think that great just because his backup came in while he was hurt and did exactly what he did. I just don't think he's there.

HR: What will you be doing around noonish on Saturday?

KW: I'll be on the couch with a cold one in my hands watching the Ohio State-Michigan game.


Alabama at Auburn, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

I had this game analysis done, complete with an ending that went something like, "…but Auburn has had a great season regardless." Then I had to trash everything I had written.

For weeks I've been ragging Auburn about its poor pass defense, and then I looked at the film more closely and realized a lot of their "problems" are by design. I'm not saying Auburn gives up yards on purpose, but there's some strategy behind how much cushion they give opposing quarterbacks.

You'll see the Tigers' defensive backs lined up five to eight yards off the line of scrimmage a lot. That allows them to do several things. First, it's a way to keep from getting beat deep. Second, it lets linebackers in zone coverage to redirect receivers on long routes and still react to passes underneath. Third, it allows the defensive backfield time to read and react to running plays.

That strategy only works if you have disruptive defensive linemen that you can count on to make plays before things go horribly wrong behind them. Auburn has held opposing quarterbacks to the fifth-lowest pass efficiency rating in the SEC. Translation: You have to throw the ball a lot to beat Auburn through the air.

If that still sounds crazy to you, consider this. Alabama's red zone defense is tops in the SEC and third-best in the country. Guess whose red zone defense is No. 2 in the SEC and 14th in the country.

That's right, kiddos. You can get close to the Promised Land against Auburn, but you ain't gonna cross over without much tribulation.

The Tigers pretty much don't care what opponents do on offense as long as they do it in front of them. With their backs to the end zone, the field is shorter and they get more aggressive. Even if the Tigers give up big plays, that means they get the ball back quicker so Nick Marshall, Tre Mason and that dominant rushing attack can perform surgery.

Having said all that, the J-Boys - AJ McCarron and T.J. Yeldon - could dink and dime, grind their spikes in the turf and keep Alabama's offense on the field all day long. They have an 18-game winning streak on the road, and that's not by accident.

Then again, Alabama looked like they were going to choke on barbecue smoke against Mississippi State and had to slam on the gas against Texas A&M, so let's not pretend that mistakes can't happen.

As good as Bama's run defense has been, it should not be a foregone conclusion that they will shut down Marshall, Mason and two other tailbacks who average at least 50 yards per game.

Does that mean Auburn has the right stuff to conquer Alabama? Ahh, errm…

Even people who believe in luck realize that it runs out at some point. No one exposes weaknesses like Alabama, and Auburn has plenty of them.

Marshall has probably been the Tigers' MVP, but after you complete a pass to yourself and later in the same season trump the most productive quarterback in SEC history with a last-second Hail Mary, there's no place to go but down.

Auburn probably needs a special teams or defensive touchdown to win this game because Alabama won't allow many opportunities with the ball.

Still, it should surprise no one if the Crimson Tide is 11-1 when the sun goes down Saturday.

Texas A&M at Missouri, 7:45 p.m. ET Saturday

The fairy tale ending has been set up for Mizzou - clinching the SEC East at home against the reigning Heisman winner on national TV.

It's only a dream if they make it happen. I could copy and paste just about everything I wrote about Auburn and apply it to the Tigers. They're a team that came out of nowhere with an impressive offense and a defense that's only good when it has to be.

There's not a prettier Cinderella in college football than Mizzou, but the wicked stepmother [Johnny Manziel] will throw out every trick to prevent that trip to the ball [SEC Championship Game]. The Tigers' only loss to South Carolina means they won't get any help from a prince, so they have to be grown-ups and buy their own shoes.

The Aggies' offense is custom-built to run all over Mizzou - or any team for that matter - but you just can't trust their defense.

James Franklin is a week healthier, the running game is second in the SEC and defenders can actually catch up to Manziel this year. This will either be a really close shootout, or an absolute drubbing, but either way it looks like the Tigers can punch their ticket to Atlanta.

There's life outside the SEC?

If Florida beats Florida State it will set off a galactic disruption so powerful that Neptune will start orbiting around Earth, and time will revert back far enough for you to have a tyrannosaurus as a house pet.

The deck was stacked against Will Muschamp this season, and he doesn't deserve to get fired any more than the little, old lady who greets people at Walmart. Although I hate Walmart, I'm a huge fans of little old ladies - even those who make poor career choices.

Michigan State plays Minnesota on Saturday. You don't care about this, and that's understandable. But if you're jonesing for a football fix before the Iron Bowl and you want to see the closest thing to an SEC defense another conference has to offer, you should spare about 15 minutes of your time.

Stat of the Week:

4: With its No. 4 ranking, Auburn is the highest ranked team Alabama has ever played during the regular season while ranked No. 1, according to the Alabama sports information department. That's hard to believe, yet it's another reason why this game has such unreal hype.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • FOX19 Poll

  • What game are you most looking forward to this weekend?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Ole Miss at Miss. State (Thursday)
    20 votes
    Alabama at Auburn
    498 votes
    Florida State at Florida
    8 votes
    Texas A&M at Missouri
    24 votes
    Clemson at South Carolina
    16 votes
    Georgia Tech at Georgia
    12 votes
    24 votes
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