Alabama 49, Auburn 0.
If you want to memorialize this Iron Bowl blowout in one of those expensive paintings with a catchy slogan, you could recall the scene during the final minute. Even though this one had long since been decided, Alabama coach Nick Saban screamed bloody murder at an official, who apparently had wronged the Crimson Tide in some way. You could could call the painting “Domination.”
The second-ranked Crimson Tide (11-1) carried the game from the opening kickoff all the way to Saban’s closing argument against that official. Alabama clinched a spot in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game against Georgia, while Auburn completed its season at 3-9, the worst record for a team two years after winning a national title in the poll era.
You have to go back to 1948 to find the only instance in which the Crimson Tide beat Auburn by more than it did Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama beat Auburn 55-0 back then.
“We didn’t take our foot off the gas,” Alabama running back Eddie Lacy said. “We kept going and going until the clock reached zero in the fourth quarter.”
AJ McCarron tied a career high with four touchdown passes, including two each to Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood. Lacy rushed for two touchdowns, and T.J. Yeldon managed one.
Alabama scored touchdowns on its first seven possessions, converted its first 11 third-down plays, led 42-0 at halftime, and never allowed the Tigers past the Tide 41-yard line. Auburn crossed the 50 only twice all day and not once after halftime.
Alabama dominated so completely, even Tide defensive back Dee Milliner admitted he was a bit surprised: “I never thought it would get like that.”
Afterward, Saban even appeared downright jolly, as he opened his postgame news conference joking about how he couldn’t get any of the postgame pizza in the locker room. He said he asked one of the linemen to share but was refused.
“We asked for everyone to play their best game today,” he said. “When you make a commitment to something, it comes from the heart, and I really thought our players did that.”
Maybe McCarron provided the key offensively as he returned to playing the type of game he played earlier in the year: the game manager who can produce a big play when needed.
Saban said McCarron did an even better job than usual of keeping Alabama out of bad plays, especially when changing plays at the line of scrimmage.
“Sometimes it’s run-to-run or sometimes it’s run-to-pass,” Saban said, “but he is a pretty bright guy and he did a pretty good job.”
Three times on the first four drives, as Alabama built its large lead, McCarron found secondary receivers to convert third-down situations. In each case, he completed a crossing route.
On the second touchdown drive, McCarron found Kenny Bell for 15 yards on third-and-7. On the third drive, he completed a 7-yarder to Norwood on third-and-6. Then on the fourth drive, he threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Norwood on third-and-goal.
So instead of having those three drives fizzle, they produced touchdowns.
“I felt good,” McCarron said. “I felt like I had a good week of study. I felt like I knew what to do.”