Nov. 29, 2008
Box Score |
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
by Scott Latta, UA Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA - Top-ranked Alabama forced three fumbles and scored 26 second-half points, rolling up more than 400 yards of offense on its way to a 36-0 win over Auburn in front of a sellout crowd of 92.138 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
The win over Auburn improved Alabama to 12-0 overall, 8-0 in the Southeastern Conference, and gives Alabama its first 12-0 start since 1994. The Crimson Tide is now tied with Utah for the longest active winning streak in the country at 13 games. Auburn falls to 5-7 overall, 2-6 in the SEC.
"It was obviously a great win for our fans, and it was a great win for our players," said Alabama coach Nick Saban. "We don't have a player on our team who has experienced this before so that was our goal."
Alabama took a 10-0 lead to halftime but exploded after that, forcing three second half fumbles that the Crimson Tide offense converted into touchdowns. The first two came on consecutive possessions in the third quarter and extended Alabama's 10-point lead to 22-0 in less than six minutes. On Auburn's first drive of the half, Kareem Jackson forced a Brad Lester fumble that was recovered by Rolando McClain at the Tigers' 39. One play later, quarterback John Parker Wilson hit Nikita Stover for a 39-yard touchdown to put the Tide up 16-0.
On Auburn's next drive, quarterback Kodi Burns fumbled the snap, which was recovered by Terrence Cody at the Auburn 45. After a pair of first downs, Alabama punched the ball in the end zone on a 1-yard run by tailback Mark Ingram to go up 22-0.
The touchdown was the first of two for Ingram on the afternoon. His second came on Alabama's next drive, when he broke up the middle of the Auburn defense for 14 yards and a score to put Alabama up 29-0. Ingram finished the game with 15 carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Glen Coffee led the Alabama ground attack, carrying the ball 20 times for 144 yards and a touchdown, a 41-yarder in the second quarter that put the Tide up 10-0.
Auburn came into Saturday's game giving up 130 yards per game on the ground and had allowed just four rushing touchdowns on the season. In total, Alabama ran for 234 against the Tigers and scored three times on the ground.
"[The offensive line] showed up like they do every game," Coffee said. "Running behind them doesn't really give us that much to do except hit those holes full speed and take care of the rest."
Through the air, Alabama passed for 178 yards and two touchdowns on the Auburn defense. Wilson finished the game 8-of-16 for 134 yards and a score, and backup quarterback Greg McElroy finished 2-of-2 for 44 yards and a touchdown, which came with 2:49 to go in the game to put the Tide up 36-0.
Stover finished with one catch for 39 yards and a touchdown, Julio Jones caught three passes for 36 yards and Marquis Maze caught McElroy's touchdown pass, finishing with one catch for a 34-yard touchdown. In total, Alabama rolled up 412 yards against the Tigers and had just one penalty.
"To come out and score all these points, it feels good, but we have a lot left that we have to do," Wilson said. "We will learn from this game and get ready for the next one."
The Alabama defense did not allow Auburn's offense to enter the red zone, giving up 170 total yards, including just 74 in the second half. Five of Auburn's six first-half possessions ended in punts, and the other drive ended with a blocked field goal to finish the half. Of the Tigers' seven second-half drives, four ended in punts, three ended in turnovers and one ended on a turnover-on-downs.
Saturday's shutout was Alabama's first against the Tigers since a 17-0 win in 1992. The 36-point win was the largest margin of victory in the Iron Bowl since Alabama beat Auburn 38-0 in 1962.
"It means a lot to earn the shutout," safety Rashad Johnson said. "We were just trying to get better every week. We practiced hard and were able to finish the game."
Having clinched the SEC's Western Division, Alabama now heads to the SEC Championship in Atlanta to face the Florida Gators (11-1; 7-1 SEC) on Saturday, December 6. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on CBS.