It wasn't the worst loss by the Tigers in the history of the Iron Bowl, but it was close. Very, very close. In 1948 the Tide pounded the Tigers 55-0 in the renewal of the series.
For Tiger fans looking for a silver lining to the dark cloud hanging over their football team after the Tigers finished 3-8, a year after being pounded by the Tide in '48 the Tigers bounced back with a 14-13 victory.
The big question regarding Auburn football is whether Gene Chizik, the coach who led the Tigers to the 2010 BCS National Championship, will be around next season to try to lead the Tigers back to winning status.
In addition to winning only three times this year, the Tigers finished 0-8 in SEC competition. It was the first time the Tigers didn't win a league game since Doug Barfield's 1980 team was 0-6 in the conference while finishing 5-6 overall. That was Barfield's fifth and final season as he was fired and replaced by Pat Dye.
On Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Chizik's Tigers were ineffective on special teams, they had little punch on offense and were downright embarrassing on defense. Chizik used the word "embarrassing" to describe his team's performance. He also threw in "disappointing" and "sad" in his postgame press conference in which he wouldn't not answer questions about his job security.
"I am not going into all of the job situation," Chizik said. "This isn't about me. I have got a locker room of guys over there that are very disappointed and hurting, starting with our seniors. That is my focus. I am not going to entertain any of those questions."
He did expand on his team's performance on Saturday in which the Tigers were out-gained 483 to 163 in total offense. "The Auburn fans and the Auburn alumni did not deserve that," he said.
One of Chizik's players, sophomore tight end C.J. Uzomah, said the players will have a team meeting with the coaches on Sunday, but noted he didn't know what it would be about now that the Tigers have finished their season. Auburn president Dr. Jay Gogue, who had previously said he would consider Chizik's job performance after the season, is expected to make the call on whether or not Chizik will be back for a fifth season leading the team.
One of the few bright spots for the Tigers was that sophomore tailback Tre Mason was able to reach his goal of rushing for 1,000 yards. He carried the ball 21 times and netted 82 yards, giving him 1,002 for the season.
"I noticed they were stacking the box a lot," Mason said of the Alabama defense. "They put eight and nine people in the box because we are predominately a run team. I just tried to keep my legs moving and get positive yards.
Tre Mason runs on Saturday vs. the Tide.
Mason said reaching his personal goal was all about his teammates around him making that possible. "It is just a blessing to have those other 10 guys around me fighting with me," he said.
Mason and other Auburn players publically supported Chizik after the game. Asked how he would feel if the coach was fired, the sophomore tailback said, "I would be really disappointed. He recruited me and that is who I came in under. Of course I would like him to stay."
Coordinator Brian VanGorder's defense did a horrible job of tackling and that was matched by the confusion in pass coverage. VanGorder did not do postgame interviews.
Auburn dug itself into a major hole early in the game that got out of hand in the second quarter when the Tide scored four touchdowns with help from a pair of Tiger turnovers.
Alabama took The Opening kickoff and drove 75 yards on 10 plays before Eddie Lacy scored from two yards out. That drive was aided by an Alabama offensive line that was not flagged for flagrant holding.
On its second possession the Tide kept the ball for 10 plays with T.J. Yeldon capping another 10-play possession that was helped by a highly questionable pass interference call on third drive to keep the possession going.
The lead ballooned to 28-0 after an interception put the Tide in business at the Tiger 29 following an interception by Robert Lester, who caught a ball that deflected off of tight end C.J. Uzomah.
Chris Davis makes a tackle vs. Eddie Lacy.
With 4:31 left in the half Lacy scored from a yard out as Auburn's defensive line was dominated on the series as the Tide moved 64 yards on seven plays.
A fumble by Mason set up the final points of the half as the Tide scored in three plays from the 35 on a 29-yard pass from McCarron to Cooper.
At the half the Tigers were out-gained 328 to 99 yards with Alabama rushing for 153 yards on 23 carries. McCarron hit 13-18 passes for 175 yards.
The Tigers rushed for 55 yards in the opening half on 17 carries and Jonathan Wallace hit 3-10 passes for 44 yards. For the game the freshman completed 5-14 passes for 71 yards and was intercepted twice.
The Tigers' offense continued to struggle in the second half. Alabama scored with 9:03 left in the third quarter on a 38-yard pass from McCarron to Norwood. After that the Tide began substituting players and neither team scored the rest of the game.
Alabama needed the victory to earn a spot in the SEC Championship Game and will play the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. The Tigers will be home for the bowl season for the first time since 2008.