Alabama Trounces Auburn, 42-14
Alabama went to Auburn and routed the Tigers, 42-14, Saturday, in all likelihood securing a rematch against LSU in the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans on Jan. 9.
Alabama was ranked second in the nation in all polls, including the BCS rankings, going into this weekend's games. LSU was number one and defeated Arkansas, 41-17, on Friday to keep its record undefeated at 12-0. The Fighting Tigers will go to Atlanta to play Georgia for the Southeastern Conference championship to assure LSU's place in the national championship game.
Alabama improved to 11-1 on the year, the lone loss an overtime 9-6 setback to LSU. Bama finishes 7-1 in SEC games. Auburn, a year after winning a national championship, fell to 7-5 overall, 4-4 in SEC games.
In one respect, the final score was misleading. Alabama's defense did not surrender a point. Auburn's two touchdowns were scored by the defense and by the kickoff return team.
A.J. McCarron had an exceptional game, passing for three touchdowns and completing 18 of 23 passes for 184 yards. Trent Richardson had 27 rushes for 203 yards, including a 57-yard run late in the fourth quarter that gave third team tailback Jalston Fowler the opportunity to tack on a a 15-yard touchdown run and close out the scoring.
Alabama was particularly effective in the first half with McCarron getting all of his touchdown passes. He also connected with tight end Brad Smelley for six first half completions, including a touchdown. His other touchdown tosses went to Kenny Bell and to Richardson and he also had a two-point conversion pass to tight end Michael Williams.
The rout was reflected in the statistics. Alabama had 399 yards going to the final play of the game, when McCarron took a knee for a two-yard loss, leaving the Tide with just 397. But that was plenty more than the 140 total yards by Auburn, 45 of those coming on a final, futile drive.
Bama had 19 first downs to 9 for Auburn. The Tide had 35 rushes for 213 yards, Auburn also 35 runs, but for only 78 yards. The Tigers were held to 11-20 passing for just 62 yards.
Auburn suffered one costly interception as Bama cornerback picked off a Clint Moseley pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
Alabama was led on defense by linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who was in on nine tackles (six primary) and one tackle for loss. Freshman Vinnie Sunseri played much of the game at safety for Mark Barron and had a nice game with six tackles (four primary).
Alabama -Auburn Statistics
For the second consecutive year, Alabama had a 24-7 halftime lead. But it didn't seem much like last year's game -- the one when the Tigers valuable quarterback Cam Newton brought Auburn back to a 28-27 win.
The Crimson Tide had dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage, the Tigers getting a touchdown on an offensive turnover and otherwise unable to move, unable to stop Alabama. And, specifically, unable to stop the McCarron-Smelley battery. McCarron was pitching and Smelley was catching like Auburn was North Texas or Georgia Southern. Smelley had four receptions against those two teams. Against Auburn in just the first two quarters, had a career high six receptions for a career high 86 yards. (Perhaps the Tigers made an adjustment, because Smelley did not have a second half catch.)
One of those Smelley receptions was a 35-yard first quarter touchdown, one of three first half touchdown completions by McCarron.
After the teams swapped three-and-outs, Bama started at its 11 yards line. On third and seven from the 22, Smelley caught a first down pass. Three plays later he had another first down catch.
There had been a lot of pre-game talk about the trick plays of Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, but it was Bama Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain who drew first gadget blood. On a first-and-10 from the Auburn 41, McCarron handed to Richardson, who turned and tossed it back to McCarron -- a flea flicker. McCarron then hit a wide open Kenny Bell for the touchdown, the ninth play of the 81-yard drive. Jeremy Shelley kicked it to Alabama 7, Auburn 0 with 4:35 left in the first quarter.
Auburn had another three-and-out, followed by a shanked punt that went only 10 yards and set Bama up at the Tigers 35.
McCarron went back to Smelley. Alabama was in a three tight end formation with Smelley on the right side. He crossed the field and was left unattended, catching the pass at the 10 and trotting in to make it 14-0 with 4:25 to play.
Auburn moved into Alabama territory -- to the 49 -- on its next possession, where the Tigers faced fourth and three. It appeared Auburn might gamble, but instead AU quarterback Clint Moseley quick kicked to the 10.
Alabama wanted to pass and McCarron had protection, but couldn't find a receiver. Finally he was hit by defensive end Corey Lemonier and fumbled into the end zone. Kenneth Carter fell on the ball for Auburn for the touchdown. With four seconds remaining in the first quarter, Bama's lead had been cut to 7 at 14-7.
Alabama responded with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that was helped by an Auburn pass interference. McCarron completed third down passes for first downs to Bell (5 yards), Smelley (6 yards and 21 yards), and finished the drive with a five-yard pass to Trent Richardson. With 5:53 to play in the first half, Alabama had a 21-7 lead.
Auburn had another three-and-out on its next possession and Bama started at its 36. The drive included a 15-yard personal foul call against Auburn and a fourth down pass to Smelley for a first down, but the Tide couldn't get a touchdown, settling for a 30-yard Smelley field goal and a 24-7 lead with 1:44 to play.
Alabama's kickoff team, which has been mediocre to awful much of the year, bot an awful kickoff from Cade Foster to the 17 that was returned 83 yards by Onterio McCalebb through awful coverage for a touchdown that cut Bama's lead to 24-14 just 11 seconds into the second half.
Alabama responded, but not quite satisfactorily. Bama drove to a first down at the Auburn 12, but could cash only a field goal. After an Auburn kickoff to the end zone, Bama managed first downs on a seven-yard pass to Marquis Maze, a 35-yard Richardson run, and a 16-yard Richardson run. On second and nine the Tide was hit with a delay of game penalty, and ended up settling for Shelley's 28-yard field goal and a 27-14 lead.
There would be no more scoring in the third quarter. For the most part, Alabama had poor field position owing to another nice kickoff return by McCalebb after Bama's field goal. But after Auburn failed on a fourth-and-one from the Alabama 47, Cody Mandell punted Auburn back to its nine on the final play of the third quarter.
That poor field position turned into a big Alabama play. The Tigers had two passes go incomplete, one that probably should have been intercepted by Dre Kirkpatrick. No problem.
The third Mosley pass was picked off by Tide cornerback Dee Milliner at the 35 and run back for a touchdown to make it 33-14. McCarron hit Williams on the two-point conversion with 14:38 to play in the game.
Auburn drove to a first-and-goal at the 10 and second and goal at the five, but the defense with a sack from Courtney Upshaw and a tackle on a scramble took over on downs at the 10.
It was no surprise that it would be Trent Richardson time, and he delivered with a performance that should enhance his Heisman Trophy chances.
He pulled Alabama out of the hole with a 13-yard run and two plays later went around left end, pounded a couple of defenders off him with stiff arms, and went back down the middle to the Auburn 16, a 57-yard run that put him over the 200-yard mark and ended his day.
Two plays later, Jalston Fowler went around right end and into the end zone.
Auburn's final offensive thrust ended with Moseley scrambling on a third and long and fumbling when tackled. At that time, Alabama had 399 yards of total offense to 140 for Auburn, but the Tide correctly took a knee to end the game, and fell short of 400 yards.
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