Alabama Hopes For LSU Rematch
Alabama fans were chanting "LSU, LSU, LSU" because Bama hopes no quirks in the BCS system crop up to deny Alabama a rematch with the Fighting Tigers in the national championship game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans.
Auburn fans were chanting "LSU, LSU, LSU" in desperate hope that the Bengals of the Bayou can do what Auburn could not, which is deny Alabama its 14th national championship.
Auburn made no bones about its primary goal. The Tigers had rejoiced over their defensive success against Alabama running backs the past couple of years. Trent Richardson ended that nonsense and also made a strong case for his Heisman Trophy hopes.
Richardson had a career game with 27 carries for 203 yards, fourth highest total ever for a Bama running back against Auburn. (Bobby Marlow had 233 in 1951, Johnny Musso 221 in 1970, and Bobby Humphrey 204 in 1986.)
It was the 11th time an Alabama running back has rushed for 200 or more yards in a game, the first since Mark Ingram rushed for 246 against South Carolina in 2009, en route to the Heisman Trophy and helping Bama to the national championship.
Richardson has now had nine games this season in which he rushed for over 100 yards. This was his third in a row and tied Ingram for most in a season.
Richardson's big day moved him up in both the single season and career rushing lists at Bama. He has rushed for 1,583 yards, second all time for one season behind Ingram's 1,658 yards in 2009. Richardson is the fifth back in Bama history to surpass 3,000 rushing yards for a career with 3,034. He ranks fifth all-time among Alabama runners for a career.
The win marked the 15th season Alabama has had 11 or more victories in a season, tying Penn State for second in that category. Bama has won 11 or more games three times under Coach Nick Saban.
With the win, Alabama increases its lead to 41-24-1 against Auburn. Bama is 4-7 in games played at Auburn, including two in a row.
Saban is now 5-5 in his head coaching career against Auburn, 2-3 while at LSU and 3-2 at Alabama.
Alabama sophomore quarterback A.J. McCarron, making his first start against Auburn, had a solid performance and has finished the regular season strong. He was 18-23 for 184 yards and three touchdowns against the Tigers. Over the past two games, McCarron is 32-42 for 374 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. Two of his three touchdown passes against Auburn were for more than 20 yards, making eight of his 16 touchdown passes this year from long distance.
McCarron tied the Alabama record for touchdown passes against Auburn with three. It is the fourth time an Alabama quarterback has thrown three touchdown passes against the Tigers. Steve Sloan did it in 1964, Jeff Rutledge in 1978 (both wins in national championship seasons), and Freddie Kitchens did it in a victory in 1996.
Senior tight end Brad Smelley finished his Crimson Tide career on a strong note with a career high six receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown. In the past two games he has 10 receptions for 144 yards and hauled in three touchdowns.
Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw had two sacks in the game to give him 8.5 in a season, the most since Wallace Gilberry had 10 in 2007. Upshaw has 15.5 sacks over the past two years. Upshaw finished the game with five tackles, including two for losses of 13 yards.
Alabama held Auburn to 78 rushing yards on 35 carries, a 2.2 yards per carry average. In Saban's 66-game career at Alabama, the Tide defense has limited the opposition to fewer than 100 rushing yards 41 times (62.1 per cent of the time).
Dee Milliner's interception and return for a touchdown gave him a Bama-best three interceptions this season. Alabama has had at least one interception in nine of 12 games this year.
Alabama has three interception returns for touchdowns this year. Upshaw had one against Florida and DeQuan Menzie one against Penn State.
Alabama had a 24-7 lead at halftime, the same halftime score as in 2010 when Auburn came back for a 28-27 win over the Tide in Tuscaloosa. Ordinarily, though, a halftime lead is a good thing for Alabama under Saban: 48-3 when leading at the half.
Barrett Jones was back in the lineup at left tackle with Alfred McCullough getting the start at right guard.
In Alabama's first defensive "dime" set, freshman Vinnie Sunseri was the sixth defensive back, taking the place of Will Lowery, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. With Mark Barron slowed with an injury, Sunseri became the regular safety for much of the game.
Auburn's Onterrio McCalebb returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown, the first time in Auburn history a Tigers return man has taken a kickoff back for a touchdown against Alabama.
Captains were linebacker Dont'a Hightower, safety Mark Barron, center William Vlachos, and nose tackle Josh Chapman.