The Scoop: The Alabama Crimson Tide made their statement to the pollsters with a completely dominant 42-14 win over the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated as Auburn never seriously threatened. They didn’t score a single offensive touchdown, and were held to just 140 yards of offense. Alabama went up 14-0 early, and took a 24-7 lead to the half. Auburn returned the opening kickoff for six, but it was all Alabama from that point on as the Tide finishes the regular season 11-1, and made a strong case for a rematch with LSU in New Orleans.
Turning Point: When the game moved into the fourth quarter, despite Alabama having dominated the entire game, Auburn was still alive. Alabama led just 27-14 going into the game’s final period. Early in the quarter, with their backs to the endzone, Auburn QB Clint Mosley threw a terrible pass over the head of his intended receiver, and it was picked off by Dee Milliner. Milliner returned it 35-yards into the endzone to officially put the game away with Alabama taking a 34-14 lead.
Stat of the Game: Alabama’s defense absolutely swarmed the Auburn defense. The Tigers’ two touchdowns were a fumble recovery for six, and a kickoff return for a touchdown. Alabama held Auburn to just 140 yards of offense, and just 9 first downs. Until Auburn’s final few possessions, they were held under 100 yards for the game.
Play of the Game: Trent Richardson’s 4th quarter 57-yard run may have been the best run I have ever seen. The run displayed everything that is great about Richardson with his power, speed, and ability to cut and change directions at a blink of an eye. He broke five tackles on the play, and just emasculated two Auburn defenders by just shoving them to the ground. If he would have finished it off with a touchdown, it probably would have been the play of the year in college football.
Offensive Player of the Game: That Trent Richardson is an alright player, isn’t he? After a frustrating two years where Auburn completely shut down the Alabama running game, Richardson brought it to life today. He carried the ball 27 times for 203 yards and had a receiving touchdown in the second quarter. It was Richardson’s 1st career 200-yard game, and his 9th 100+ yard game of the season. He made a huge statement to the Heisman voters, and in the very least punched his ticket to New York City. I’ll have a piece sometime next week explaining why he deserves to hoist the Heisman.
Defensive Player of the Game: It was a total defensive effort once again for the Crimson Tide with plenty of guys deserving consideration. Courtney Upshaw harassed the QB all game long, Jesse Williams was strong up front, Robert Lester made plays, etc. But, I give the defensive player of the game to cornerback Dee Milliner for his game sealing pick-six.
Unsung Hero: With all the talk going to Trent Richardson and rightfully so, it is easy to forget how great AJ McCarron played in the first half before Alabama just started pounding the ball. McCarron finished the game with 184 yards on 18 of 23 passing and three touchdowns. Brad Smelley played great last week, and played even better against Auburn. He had 6 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in the win.
You also have to give credit to Vinnie Sunseri stepping up in a big way. He was expected to play in the dime package today with the injury to Will Lowery, but with Mark Barron banged up, Sunseri had to play much more than what was expected, and he generally played very well.
Bad Signs: Alabama’s kickoff coverage needs to improve drastically before they possibly face off with LSU again for the BCS Title. For the second straight week, they allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown with Onterio McCalebb’s 83-yard touchdown return to start the second half. That is pretty much the only complaint I have in the aftermath of this game.
Good Signs: It was great seeing Alabama finally run the football successfully against Auburn. Alabama rushed for 213 yards, 203 of which were gained by Trent Richardson. It was great seeing Barrett Jones back out there as he gutted it out, and was clearly not 100%. Alabama was 2-for-2 on field goal attempts, and Cade Foster had two touchbacks on kickoffs.
AJ McCarron played his best game since Tennessee, Brad Smelley has developed into possibly Alabama’s best receiving threat, and of course, the Alabama defense dominated once again.
What it means: Alabama is 11-1, and it seems pretty likely now that they will get a rematch with LSU in the BCS Championship Game on January 9th in New Orleans. Alabama also avenged last season’s loss to Auburn, and Tide fans get the bragging rights for a full 365-days until next year’s battle in Tuscaloosa.
Next up: Hopefully the BCS National Championship Game. In any case, Alabama will not be playing in the SEC Championship game next week, and they will have about a month and a half off before their bowl game.