Favored by 48.5 points, the Crimson Tide dominated all aspects of the game and had little trouble with the Mocs on a day in which the football program honored its seniors.
“We wanted to go out today and improve as a team, play better as a team and play for the seniors,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “Pretty emotional day today for a lot of those guys. … Kind of an emotional thing for me, too, at the end of the game because a lot of those guys have meant a lot to the program.”
Now that the Crimson Tide’s sacrificial lamb is out of the way, we can return to our regularly scheduled Iron Bowl. Saban’s 24-hour rule on how long players can celebrate a victory may get cut a little short with in-state rival Auburn on the horizon.
“Our focus needs to immediately shift to the opportunities that we have created for ourselves and the games that we have in the future,” Saban said. “Obviously, the one that we have this week coming up against Auburn is a very important game. They have a great team. They’ve had a great season.”
Important may be the understatement of the year. With help from the college football world, the Iron Bowl has found a way to become a top-five matchup. When the polls are released Sunday, Alabama likely will remain No. 1, while Auburn should benefit from losses by No. 3 Baylor and No. 5 Oregon and move up from No. 6.
It will be only the second Iron Bowl with top-five teams, the other coming in 1971 when No. 3 Alabama rolled No. 5 Auburn 31-7.
“It’s going to be important for everybody in our organization to make a commitment to doing their very best job to play the best football because that’s probably what it’s going to take to have success against a very good team,” Saban said.
The players won’t say publicly they were looking ahead as the one-game-at-a-time mentality has been carved into their brains. But they all know what’s riding on this one: An undefeated regular season, a second straight trip to the SEC Championship Game and a third straight national title will hang in the balance six days from now.
Some players noted that the rivalry is more fun when both teams have something to play for.
“When you have something to play for, you have a lot more motivation,” wide receiver Kevin Norwood said. “You play your best and we know they’re going to play their best.”
Added receiver Christion Jones: “They always play us effectively and play us with passion. They know what the Iron Bowl means, and we know what it means so they’re going to give us all aspects of the game with the toughness and physicality.”
That wasn’t the case with AJ McCarron.
“I really don’t care what their record is,” McCarron said. “They’re the next team in our way, trying to take what we’ve worked for. We’ll come out ready to play.”
Linebacker C.J. Mosley said he has seen Auburn play a few times this season, but only as a fan and not to scout the Tigers. Mosley expects the Iron Bowl to be fun. He also agreed with McCarron.
“It doesn’t matter (if Auburn is good) as long as we get that win,” Mosley said.