By: Garrett Franks
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Despite the Auburn Tigers coming out strong in the first half, the Tide lay claim to the 87th iteration of the Iron Bowl 49-27.
The scene in Tuscaloosa was one of overcast skies and wet bleachers. The poor weather didn’t do much to damper either sides spirit as both teams came out playing with high emotion. Auburn led by Interim Head Coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams came into today with a 5-6 record looking to get bowl eligible.
The Tide came out firing on all cylinders on offense. The team accounted for 348 total first half yards. Much of that came over the air, as Bryce Young diced up the Auburn secondary thanks to help from his offensive line and his wide outs.
A bright spot today for the Tide was the wide receiver position. It’s been a position group that has largely struggled throughout the season. Today the unit stepped up in a big way. Jermaine Burton and Ja’Corey Brooks were pivotal for the Tide’s success today. Both wide-outs accounted for 163 yards, with Brooks hauling in a touchdown pass before the second half.
In what could be Young’ s last game in a crimson and white uniform, Young played like man on fire. He further cemented himself as one of the best passers in Alabama history. Young accounted for 343 passing yards, 48 rushing yards and four total touchdowns.
After the game Young was seen running over to the student section to thank the fans.
“Its meant the world to me, just the support I’ve felt, being from California… everyone made it feel like home,” said Young “It’s the best environment in college football.”
Another player who played in possibly their last game in an Alabama jersey, Will Anderson left it all out on the field. As Usual, Anderson had a big grin after the game. He had another excellent performance leading the team with two sacks and three tackles for loss. When asked what it meant to go 3-0 against Auburn in the Iron Bowl – Anderson could not contain his excitement.
“It means everything, you know this is a big game and it means everything to a lot of people,” said Anderson “To have that under my belt really means a lot to me.”
After the game Coach Nick Saban was very complimentary of his Captains Bryce Young and Will Anderson.
“I think those two guys not only have been good players for the University of Alabama, they’ve been great leaders for our team,” said Saban. “They’ve set marvelous example for any young person wanting to play sports.”
While the score indicates a big Alabama win, the game was won by the Tide in turnovers.
The first came off a fumble by Auburn Running Back Jarquez Hunter where he was hit by a teammate who jarred the ball loose. It was Defensive Lineman D.J. Dale who fell on the loose ball to give the Tide possession near the end of the first quarter. Dale, who was honored during senior day, said after the game he wanted to take the ball back for six, but couldn’t due to a cast on his right hand.
The second turnover came off a muffed punt from Auburn’s returner Keionte Scott. It was recovered by Alabama Long Snapper Kennan Hibbett. After the recovery, possession was swiftly given to Alabama but was sent back to the SEC offices in Birmingham for review. It was a very close call which the refs spent a while on. It was ultimately ruled to be a muffed, Alabama ended up scoring four plays later
Those two turnovers proved to be critical, as they both resulted in 14 points for Alabama. Those 14 points were too much for the Tigers of Jordan-Hare to overcome.
Although the result was tough for the Tigers to stomach, Quarterback Robby Ashford played his heart out all game. It wasn’t the prettiest of stat lines, that being 11/23 with 77 passing yards and a passing touchdown. Where Ashford left his mark on the game was on the ground. He had 17 attempts for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Ashford’s pair of rushing touchdowns both came on busted plays where he was able to scramble.
In fact, the Auburn rushing game gave Alabama a headache all game long. The Tigers rushed for a total of 318 yards. Running back Jarquez Hunter led the Tigers with 134 yards on only 11 attempts.
Saban joked about seeing Auburn line up in ways he hasn’t seen since his Pop Warner days. Regardless, whoever gets the Auburn job will have some fun weapons in their disposal at running back.
With this Alabama win, the Tide move to 10-2. This is their 15th straight ten plus win season, dating all the way back to 2008. While it looks like a long shot for Alabama to make the play-offs, their still in line for a nice New Years Six Bowl Game.