Bama crushes Auburn, wins SEC West Championship
by W. Brian Hale
Nov 25, 2012 | 2762 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama's Amari Cooper (9) heads to the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown reception as Auburn's Ryan Smith (24) and Alabama's Michael Williams (89) follow during their game at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday. Photo by Lee Walls Jr.
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TUSCALOOSA – Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban couldn't have asked for a better performance from his second-ranked team.

The 2012 edition of the annual Alabama/Auburn Iron Bowl match-up went solidly in the Crimson Tide’s favor as they shutout the Tigers 49-0 on Saturday night at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, clinching not only their second-straight win over their cross-state rivals, but also securing the SEC Western Division Title in the process.

“This was a great team victory – everybody contributed. We asked for our guys to come out and play their best today and when you commit to something, it comes from the heart. Our players committed to doing a good job and competed well,” Saban said. “I think it’s great that we won the SEC West, as this is a very competitive division with a lot of good teams. It gives us the opportunity to compete for the conference championship next Saturday against Georgia, which I know we will all be looking forward to.”

Alabama’s offense totaled 483 yards for the contest, including 267 yards on the ground, while the defense - in an equally impressive showing - held Auburn to just 163 total offense yards.

Eddie Lacy led Alabama’s rushing attack with 131 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. Quarterback AJ McCarron connected on 15 of 21 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 44 career touchdown passes — three behind the school’s all-time record of 47 held by John Parker Wilson.

The Crimson Tide put together a spotless offensive performance in the first half — scoring on all seven of its possessions to take a 42-0 lead into halftime, which was the largest halftime lead by either team in the history of the series.

Driving 10 plays on 75 yards, Alabama capped off their first possession of the game with a two-yard rush by Lacy to grab the 7-0 lead.

After holding the Auburn offense to a punt, the Crimson Tide offense went back to work — topping a 61-yard, 10-play drive on a 2-yard run by T.J. Yeldon for the 14-0 edge.

Following a Tiger punt to begin the second quarter, Alabama struck quickly on a 6-play, 88-yard scoring drive, with McCarron finding Cooper on a 37-yard touchdown strike, pulling the Tide further ahead, 21-0.

On the ensuing series, Lester intercepted Wallace and returned the ball 31 yards, setting up a 29-yard, five-play drive — with McCarron connecting with Norwood from seven yards out to extend Alabama’s lead to 28-0.

Forcing another Auburn punt on the next series, Lacy scored his second rushing touchdown of the contest on a one-yard run to end a 7-play, 64-yard drive to push ‘Bama’s edge to 35-0.

Near the end of the second quarter, Alabama’s Nico Johnson forced a Mason fumble, which was scooped up by Dee Milliner and returned 17 yards. Four plays later, Cooper hauled in a 29-yard pass from McCarron to leave the Tide in command at halftime, 42-0.

The final score of the game took place at the beginning of the third quarter, with McCarron recording his fourth touchdown pass of the night on a 38-yard pass to Norwood, helping secure Alabama’s 49-0 win.

McCarron’s favorite target on the night was Amari Cooper, who hauled in five passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Kevin Norwood also had two touchdown receptions to go along with his five-catch, 65-yard night.

Robert Lester led the Alabama defense with five total tackles and also grabbed an interception from Auburn quarterback Jonathan Wallace.

Auburn’s offense was hampered by not only the Alabama defense, but also by poor execution — turning the ball over three times which led to 14 Crimson Tide points. Wallace completed 5 of 14 passes for 71 yards and threw two interceptions. Tre Mason was Auburn’s offensive leader with 88 yards on 21 carries, which allowed him to eclipse the millennium rushing mark on the season with 1,002 yards.

Emory Blake led the Tiger receivers with 56 yards on three catches.

Former Cordova Blue Devil Ryan Smith recorded nine total tackles and recovered a fumble to lead the Auburn defense. Gabe Wright also contributed with 8 stops.

“There weren’t many positives that you can take from this game,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. “Obviously, that was a very disappointing and embarrassing loss to our in-state rivals. It was a sad performance and the Auburn fans and alumni don’t deserve it. Any time you’re 3-9 on the season, you won’t find too many things positive to talk about.”

Alabama (11-1) will travel to Atlanta next Saturday night for an SEC Championship Showdown with the fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (11-1) in the Georgia Dome. The Bulldogs topped in-state rival Georgia Tech on Saturday, 42-10, to wrap up their regular season.