Alabama’s Derrick Henry reaches for a touchdown Saturday against Chattanooga.|       Alabama Athletics
Alabama’s Derrick Henry reaches for a touchdown Saturday against Chattanooga.| Alabama Athletics

Saban: (Auburn) is a very, very good team

Published 12:00am Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Alabama coach Nick Saban may have opened up his weekly press conference on Monday with a little joke at the microphone, but there wasn’t any laughing when the Crimson Tide started talking about the 2013 Iron Bowl, which will be played on Saturday at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Top-ranked Alabama (11-0) and No. 4 Auburn will battle on the gridiron for a shot to play in the SEC Championship game next week.

Saban said the Tigers have “played extremely well all year long.”

“Their offense is one of the leading offenses in the country,” the coach said, hinting to Auburn’s use of the run game. “(Tigers coach) Gus (Malzahn) has done a tremendous job. They have the ability to run the ball effectively, throw it when they need to, and score when they need to score.”

Nothing was as evident than during Auburn’s 43-38 victory over Georgia not two Saturdays ago. Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall threw the ball up on fourth down, where it was then deflected into Auburn’s Ricardo Louis’s hands, who then ran the ball into the end zone untouched.

Marshall is a talented quarterback who can present a challenge for the Crimson Tide, Saban said.

“I think the guy has really played well all year long,” Saban said. “I think he’s played his best football this season as of late, in terms of confidence and executing their offense.

“The No. 1 challenge he represents is his physical ability. He’s made a lot of good plays, and especially is a good deep-ball thrower.”

Defensively, Saban said the Tigers (10-1) play on that side of the ball “really, really well.”

“They’re hard to score on,” he said. “That’s the most important thing about playing defense. They have a really good pass-rushing team.

“All the way around, this is a very, very good team,” he said. “I think their record reflects that.”

Kick off is set for 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on CBS.

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