Not saying that Alabama wasn’t taking any chances, but in 2010 a 24-point halftime lead against Auburn wasn’t good enough. The Tigers came back and went on to the national championship. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Bama made its next step on the way to a possible third national championship in four years with a 42-point lead at intermission.
Alabama wrapped up the Southeastern Conference Western Division championship with the win over Auburn. Alabama, ranked second in the nation going into this weekend’s games, is now 11-1, including a 7-1 SEC mark. Auburn finished winless in eight league games and 3-9 overall.
Alabama’s next stop is the SEC Championship Game next Saturday in Atlanta against Georgia. The Bulldogs also finished regular season play with an 11-1 record. The SEC Eastern Division Champions defeated Georgia Tech, 42-10, Saturday.
A.J. McCarron completed 15 of 21 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns in leading Bama to the rout of the cross-state rivals. McCarron and the rest of his offensive first teamers (and some back-ups) finished the game after their first possession of the second half, which made it 49-0.
Alabama second and third teamers twice had the Tide knocking at the Auburn goalline in the second half, but one possession ended with a lost fumble by freshman tailback Kenyan Drake at the Auburn seven, and the other ended with second quarterback Blake Sims taking a knee from the Tigers five.
Alabama finished with 25 first downs (12 rushing, 10 passing, 3 penalty) to 7 for Auburn (3 rush, 4 pass).
Bama had 47 rushes for 267 yards and three touchdowns, the Tigers 32 runs for 92 yards. With Sims having one incomplete pass, Alabama passing was 15-22 for 216 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, Auburn 5-15 for 71 yards and two interceptions. Total offense was Alabama 69 plays for 483 yards, 7.0 yards per play; Auburn 47 plays, 163 yards, 3.5 yards per play.
Both teams lost a fumble. Bama was penalized twice for 10 yards, the Tigers 8 times for 77 yards. The Tide had the ball for 33:11, Auburn for 26:49.
Alabama converted 11 of 14 third down opportunities, Auburn only 4-12. The Tide scored on 4-6 Red Zone opportunities. The deepest penetration by the Tigers was only to the Alabama 41.
Lacy led the Tide with 18 carries for 131 yards, 7.3 yards per carry, with two touchdowns and a long run of 32 yards. Kenyan Drake had 10 carries for 67 yards with a long of 38. T.J. Yeldon had 8 runs for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Amari Cooper was the Tide’s top receiver with 9 catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Kevin Norwood had 5 receptions for 65 yards and two touchdowns.
Cody Mandell did not punt until the fourth quarter. His two punts were good for a 48.5 yard average, including a 50-yard punt to the Auburn one.
Robert Lester led the Bama defense with five tackles (four primary) and an interception he returned 31 yards to set up a touchdown. Freshman safety HaHa Clinton-Dix also had an interception. Landon Collins and Tana Patrick were in on four tackles. Nico Johnson caused a fumble that was picked up by Dee Milliner and returned 17 yards to set up a touchdown. Adrian Hubbard and Reggie Ragland also caused fumbles.
Alabama had six first half possessions and scored six touchdowns. Auburn had six first half possessions and had five first downs, less than 100 yards of total offense, and two turnovers that led to Bama scores.
McCarron passed for three touchdowns in the first half, two of them to Cooper, and Lacy ran for two touchdowns as Bama put the game away in the first half. Four of Bama first half scoring drives were long marches, but two came after Crimson Tide takeaways – Lester’s interception and a fumble caused by Nico Johnson and recovered by Milliner.
On the first possession of the game, Alabama went 75 yards in 10 plays (and got some help from Auburn penalties). Lacy went in from two yards out. Big play in the march was a 20-yard, third down pass from McCarron to Cooper, but the Tigers were helping with two big penalties, a helmet-to-helmet and a pass interference in the end zone. Jeremy Shelley kicked the first of his seven extra points.
After holding Auburn to three-and-out and a short punt, Alabama went 61 yards in 10 plays, including pass completions of 10 yards to Christion Jones, 16 yards to Cooper, and 15 yards to Kenny Bell. Yeldon took it in for a 14-0 lead.
Very late in the first quarter, Bama got the ball back. Very early in the second quarter, the Tide scored the first of four second period touchdowns.
From the Alabama 12-yard line after a punt, Bama went 88 yards in six plays with McCarron hitting Cooper for 37 yards to make it 21-0. Lacy had a 32-yard run on the play prior to the touchdown.
Auburn showed a little spark on its next possession with a couple of first downs, but on a third-and-eight quarterback Jonathan Wallace’s pass went off the hands of intended receiver tight end C.J. Uzomah and into the hands of Lester at the Tide 40. Lester made a nice return, 31 yards to the Auburn 29.
A 19-yard Yeldon run make it first and goal. On third and goal from the seven, McCarron hit Norwood in the end zone for a 28-0 lead.
The Tide’s defense turned in another three-and-out and Bama started a drive from its 36. And started well, Lacy going 33 yards on first down, McCarron hitting Norwood for 10, Lacy running for 15 to the Auburn 16. From there it was four more Lacy runs, the last from a yard out for a 35-0 lead with just 2:22 to play.
Auburn might have expected to get to halftime with no more damage, but it wasn’t to be. The Tigers got a nice run from Tre Mason for a first down at the Auburn 42, but two plays later Mason was hit by Nico Johnson and fumbled, and Tide cornerback Dee Milliner picked it up and returned it 17 yards to the Auburn 35.
Although Bama had to overcome a false start penalty, the 35-yard drive took only three plays. McCarron passed to Cooper on a a third-and-four, and Cooper broke three tackles in turning a short gain into a 29-yard touchdown and 42-0 lead with just 31 seconds remaining in the first half.
On Bama’s first possession of the second half, after an Auburn three-and-out, the Tide moved efficiently to a final score. From the Alabama 39, it took only seven plays, four of them Lacy runs for 20 yards and the last one a 38-yard first down pass from McCarron to Norwood. That wrapped up the scoring at 49-0.