Alabama made it look easy.
Getting its fourth shutout of the season, dominating rival Auburn 49-0 and clinching the SEC West—the Crimson Tide made it all look easy.
The Iron Bowl is supposed to be known as the most riveting rivalry in all of college football. But Saturday, No. 2 Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) had its way with Auburn (3-9, 0-8), slicing up its defense on the ground (267 rushing yards) and through the air (216 passing yards), and shutting down its offense (163 total yards).
"That was a very disappointing and embarrassing loss to our in-state rivals," said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. "It was obvious to everybody. It was a sad performance."
"We had to come together as a team [after those games] and figure out why we were so successful before," said left guard Chance Warmack. "I think we did a good job of finding out why and it's not about what anybody else does, it's about what we do.
"It's always good when you're scoring points and having fun with your teammates and making the right blocks and the right reads, that's fun. Football is fun. It's a fun sport."
And fun they had. Offensively, A.J. McCarron went 15 of 21 for 216 yards and four touchdowns, Eddie Lacy pummeled Auburn's defense for 131 yards and breached the 1,000-yard rushing mark (1,001 yards this season), becoming just the 16th Alabama player to do so, and Amari Cooper had his third 100-yard game, catching five balls for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
After being average on third down in the month of November, converting only 42 percent of the time, Alabama went 11-of-14 on third down.
"We didn't take our foot off the pedal until the clock said 0.00 in the fourth quarter," Lacy said.
Defensively, the Tide had three takeaways, made stops on third down and didn't allow any points.
Auburn finished up a forgettable season with as many first downs as Alabama had touchdowns (seven), eight penalties for 77 yards and didn't make it inside the red zone once.
"I don't think we made many mistakes out there," said center Barrett Jones. "We scored every drive. We came out and beat them pretty soundly and changed the way they thought."
The victory was important and the Tide gets bragging rights for the next 365 days, but the Tigers were merely a checkpoint along the road to Atlanta, where Bama will face No. 3 Georgia next week for the SEC crown. Winner goes to Miami to play for the national championship.
"We had good energy and enthusiasm," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "We have huge challenges ahead of us and we just want to focus on what we need to do to take advantage of the opportunities we've created for ourselves."
With the win, the senior class, who was honored before the game, is now 47-5, which is not only the best record in Alabama history, but currently the best record of any senior class in the FBS. The group has also won at least 10 games every year and has two national titles to its name (and may be able to add a third).
Though the victory over an archrival was sweet, Alabama knows there's still work to be done.
"It's always good to finish out strong," Warmack said. "People only remember you by your last game."
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