Alabama Now 60 In Row Over Unranked

With Saturday’s 29-13 win over Auburn in Auburn, Alabama has defeated 60 consecutive unranked teams under ninth-year Coach Nick Saban. The last loss to an unranked team came against Auburn to close out the 2007 season, when both were unranked.

Under Nick Saban, Alabama holds a 64-3 (60-3 after vacated wins) mark against unranked opponents, including a perfect mark in unranked matchups since 2008. The current streak began with a win over Colorado on Dec. 30, 2007, in the Independence Bowl.

Here are other notes following Bama’s win over Auburn.

The Crimson Tide holds a 44-35-1 advantage in a series.

Alabama earned its 11th victory of the season, the 19th time in program history and the seventh time in nine years under Saban (2008-09, 2011-15).

Alabama led Auburn, 12-6, at halftime on the way to the Tide win. Under Saban, the Bama is 93-6 (.939) when leading at the half. Alabama has led at the half in nine of its 12 games this year, trailing Ole Miss and Arkansas, and tied at 7-7 versus Tennessee at the midway point. The four wins in the Saban era when trailing at the half: 34-24 over No. 7 Virginia Tech in 2009 (in Atlanta); a 24-15 over No. 9 LSU in 2009; 24-20 at Arkansas in 2010; 27-14 vs. Arkansas in 2015. Saban’s Tide teams are 4-3 when tied at halftime, and Alabama’s four wins under Saban when tied at halftime: at LSU in 2008, (27-21), at Auburn in 2009 (26-21), against Tennessee in 2011 (37-6) and against Tennessee this season (19-14).

The Tide defense has recorded 41 sacks, the most sacks by a Saban coached team. The 41 sacks also ranks sixth all-time for team sack totals in a season. Next on the season total list is the 1995 team with 42. Alabama’s all-time leader is the 1988 teams that recorded 60 sacks.

Alabama limited Auburn to 260 yards of total offense, the eighth time the Tide has kept a team under 300 in 2015. Bama held LSU to 182 yards, Arkansas to 220, Georgia to 299, Louisiana Monroe to 92, Middle Tennessee to 275, and Wisconsin to 268. In Saban’s 120-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to under 300 yards of total offense 74 times, or 61.7 per cent of the time. UA held six of its 14 opponents below 300 yards in 2014.

Auburn fans reserved their loudest and most derisive “welcome” for Reuben Foster when starting lineups were announced in the pre-game. Foster had played his senior season at Auburn High School, committed to the Tigers, and then changed his mind and went with Alabama. He had a very solid game against Auburn with four primary tackles, two assists, a pass broken up, and a quarterback pressure.

Meanwhile, there is vindication for Alabama center Ryan Kelly following the game. Some made a big deal of Kelly saying on Monday before the game (and before Tide players had begun study of the gameplan for Auburn) that he didn’t know who Carl Lawson was. “The best player on Auburn’s defense!” wailed those who would make something of Kelly’s statement. It was “smack talk!” Well, after the game it’s not likely Kelly would have known who Lawson was either. Bama was not sacked and Lawson finished the game with one tackle and one assist.

Speaking of perception, what is this “adequate for this offense” statement we have heard from so-called experts analyzing college football? Senior quarterback Jacob Coker continually out-duels his counterparts. On Saturday, Coker completed 17 of 26 passes for 179 yrds and one touchdown with no interceptions. His counterpart, erstwhile Heisman Trophy candidate Jeremy Johnson of Auburn, completed 10-23 for 169 yards and one touchdown. Coker wasn’t sacked and Johnson was sacked three times. Coker also had three rushes for 13 yards.

Over the past eight games, Coker is completing 72 per cent (136-for-189) of his passes for 1,499 yards and seven touchdowns.

Johnson’s biggest pass play was the fabulous tip and catch by Auburn wide receiver Jason Smith for a 77-yard touchdown play. It was not only Smith’s first touchdown reception, it was the first game in which he started for the Tigers.

It was Auburn’s longest play this season.

With Adam Griffith’s 26-yard field goal on the Tide’s opening drive, the Tide has scored in the first half of its last 115 games, the longest streak in the nation. The last time Bama failed to score in the first half was on Sept. 29, 2007, when Alabama and Florida State headed into halftime in a scoreless tie. The Seminoles won that game, 21-14.

Alabama has now scored in 195 consecutive games, the longest streak in program history.

Alabama is 77-4 since the start of the 2008 season when rushing for at least 140 yards. The only losses were at Auburn in 2013, Ole Miss and Ohio State in 2014, and Ole Miss this year.

Griffith’s five field goals made is the second-most in a game by an Alabama kicker, tied with Leigh Tiffin at Ole Miss (Oct. 10, 2009) and Jeremy Shelley against LSU (Jan. 9, 2012). It sets the record for the most field goals in a game against Auburn, passing the four Van Tiffin collected in the 1985 Iron Bowl.

Griffith has made 19 of his last 22 field goal attempts. He missed his first four attempts of the season, but made eight straight before a blocked attempt at Mississippi State (Nov. 14). Griffith not missed an extra point in 48 attempts this season. He also has a career-best 42 touchbacks on kickoffs this season, getting seven on eight kicks against Auburn.

Alabama’s captains were seniors Ryan Kelly, Reggie Ragland, and Jarran Reed.

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