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Alabama 42 … at Auburn 14

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 26, 2011


Week 13 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Alabama at Auburn

2011 Prediction & Game Story

Week 13 - Alabama at Auburn

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Nov. 26 Alabama 42 … at Auburn 14
CFN Analysis: The rivalry is always going to be an X factor, but Alabama was supposed to beat up and blow away a mediocre Auburn team with no run defense. This was a stat-padder game, and Trent Richardson did his part with 203 yards on 27 carries, while catching a five-yard score. … AJ McCarron was terrific, completing 18-of-23 passes for 184 yards and three scores, and Richardson was unstoppable, but the defense was the real star. The front seven didn’t let the Tiger running game breathe. … Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower dominated. … It’s off to the national championship. There’s no question that this is one of the top two teams in America, and it’ll get its shot at a rematch with LSU.

The Tigers are still in rebuilding mode – obviously. This is a young team with a ton of talent, but there’s no Cam Newton to bring it all together. Next year the experience should be a plus, but the run defense didn’t get any better and the quarterback situation is still a question mark. … Getting blown out by Alabama isn’t anything to get into a twist about – it’s a national title-level team the Tigers lost to – but the offense went absolutely nowhere and the defense whiffed for a full sixty minutes. … Darren Bates was a bright spot with ten tackles, and Corey Lemonier made one huge play, but there were too many missed stops. … The Tigers went win-loss-win-loss over the final eight games of the year after starting 4-1.

(AP) AUBURN, Ala. -- Trent Richardson and No. 2 Alabama turned the Iron Bowl into a statement game. Now, they'll wait and see what happens in the national title and Heisman Trophy races.

Richardson rushed for a career-high 203 yards and AJ McCarron threw three first-half touchdown passes to lift the Crimson Tide to a 42-14 victory over rival Auburn (No. 24 BCS) on Saturday.

The Tide (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) has a week before finding out if its resume is good enough to secure a shot at a second national title in three years. No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 1 LSU have big games remaining against Oklahoma (No. 9 BCS, No. 12 AP) and No. 13 Georgia, respectively.

Richardson ran 27 times and caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in his final chance to impress Heisman voters. He had runs of 35 and 57 yards to set up second-half scores.

Fans began chanting first "Heisman" and then "LSU" in the fourth, with a sizable contingent wearing crimson and white remaining in the stands afterward clamoring for a rematch. By then, there wasn't all that much orange and blue left.

The Tide fell to LSU 9-6 in an overtime game that Bama fans at least feel didn't settle the matter of which one is better.

It's pretty clear who's best in the state.

In the end, the win might have given the Tide enough style points to hold onto No. 2 in the BCS rankings despite whatever happens next week.

The Tide dominated statistically but didn't put Auburn (7-5, 4-4) away until Dee Milliner's 35-yard interception return early in the fourth quarter. Alabama entered the quarter with a 309-44 advantage in total yards but also gave up touchdowns on a fumble recovery and a kick return.

McCarron completed 18 of 23 passes for 184 yards but only attempted five second-half passes. Richardson handled the rest. He gained 142 yards on 13 carries in the second half against a defense ranked 98th nationally against the run.

It was more than enough to end Auburn's streak of 14 straight wins at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Tigers' biggest offensive weapons were mostly nonfactors. Tailback Mike Dyer, the SEC's No. 2 rusher, had three carries at the half and finished with 13 for 48 yards.

Clint Moseley completed 11 of 18 passes for a paltry 62 yards and the pick-6. Freshman backup Kiehl Frazier played much of the game but didn't complete either of his two pass attempts.

The Tigers did threaten an offensive touchdown in the fourth but stalled on downs after getting it to the 5. Then Richardson scampered down the left sideline and sprinted to the other side of the field for the 57-yarder.

Auburn managed to hang around for three quarters. Then Milliner intercepted a badly overthrown pass by Moseley, who has now had three passes returned for TDs in Auburn's three biggest games against LSU, Georgia and Bama.

The two-point play made it 35-14, and Auburn couldn't come close to a second straight huge Iron Bowl comeback.

Like last season, Alabama led 24-7 at the half. This time the Tigers didn't have Cam Newton pulling the trigger on a comeback en route to a Heisman and a national title.

Auburn struck instantly in the second half. Onterio McCalebb returned the opening kick 83 yards for a touchdown, the Tigers' first score on a kick return in Iron Bowl history.

The Tigers then held Alabama to a field goal and converted a fourth-and-1 near midfield but couldn't sustain the momentum change.

Auburn followed it up with a fumbled pitch for a 10-yard loss, a penalty and a lateral to Frazier, who badly overthrew a receiver deep.

Alabama outgained the Tigers 397-140 and held Auburn to 3 of 15 on third downs.

Alabama (10-1) at Auburn (7-4) Nov. 26, 3:30, CBS

Here’s The Deal … Alabama was screwing up Auburn’s dream season, and then Cam Newton solidified his season as one of the greatest in the history of college football with a comeback for the ages to pull off a 28-27 win on the way to the national championship.

In 2009, Alabama was rolling through its slate, and then it needed everything in the bag to get by Auburn in a 26-20 before rolling over Tim Tebow and then Texas on the way to the national title.

In 2004, an undefeated Auburn was blowing through everything in its path, but it had a hard time getting past a mediocre Alabama team in a 20-13 win.

All three of those games were on the road, and in all three the team careening towards a possible national championship got the A effort from the other side. This year, Alabama got all the breaks needed to move up to the coveted BCS No. 2 slot with a shot at playing for the national title simply by beating Auburn at Auburn. It’s possible Oklahoma State could blow away Oklahoma and move up in the polls, and Arkansas could jump ahead of the Tide if it shocks LSU, but it would unprecedented for a No. 2 team to win in late November and then drop in the polls. If Alabama wins impressively, then forget about everyone else; the ticket to the BCS Championship will be punched.

Auburn has predictably had a rocky season after losing so much talent and with such a big transition following its epic national title run. The D hasn’t shown up from the opening kickoff against Utah State, and the offense has been sporadic at best thanks to a passing game that can’t seem to find any semblance of efficiency or consistency. Alabama is an awful matchup for anyone, but it’s a particularly bad one for a Tiger team with nothing but a running game on offense and a defense that can’t stop anyone from pounding away. Even so, despite all the problems and issues, a win over the Tide would make this a successful 8-4 transition season. Of course, burning the archrival’s shot at a second national title in three years would be sweet, too.

Could the underdog finally screw up the favorite’s title run for the first time since Auburn beat Alabama 30-20 in 1989? Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, and Stanford wouldn’t mind.

Why Alabama Might Win: Auburn has to run to win. The ground game worked in losses to Clemson and Arkansas, but two of its worst performances of the year came against LSU – running for 87 yards – and against Georgia – running for 51 yards on 25 carries. The offensive line hasn’t done much of anything in pass protection and it needs to try to open up holes against a defense that’s stopping the run at an all-timer of a level. The Tide has given up just three touchdowns on the year, and while it allowed 302 yards last week to Georgia Southern’s triple-option attack, that was a quirk. Only two other teams – Penn State and LSU – were able to run for over 100 yards, and neither offense was effective. Auburn has the backs to run for over 100 yards, but it doesn’t have the talent to run for over 250 like it must to make up for the woeful passing attack. By the way, Alabama is No. 1 in the nation against the pass.

On the other side of the ball, the Tide should be able to run all day. The Tiger defensive front has been tissue paper up the middle, and while the ends have generated a little bit of pressure, it hasn’t been doing enough to make up for the problems on the inside. Georgia ran for over 300 yards, Ole Miss ran well, and even Samford had a little bit of success. The Tide won’t have to do anything quirky; it just needs to get physical early and keep pounding away.

Why Auburn Might Win: Maybe, just maybe, the Auburn running game could work. The Alabama backs are terrific, but the Tiger runners take a backseat to no one with Michael Dyer close to 1,200 yards with ten scores even though everyone and the waterboy has loaded up to try to stop him. Onterio McCalebb has been great in a complementary role and should be effective if the Tigers decide to get a bit quirky. If Georgia Southern could make the triple option work against the Tide D, could Auburn try to do some of the same things? It would be crazy to not give it a try.

There’s no pressure whatsoever on the Tigers. Last year’s recruiting class was tremendous and the talent base is there to be a contender in the West again for years to come, and yes, this was a rebuilding season. They’re supposed to get blown away by a Tide team that despite the LSU loss really might be the best in America, so the team should be able to play loose and take a few chances. However, Alabama did that last year, and then in crunch time it gagged. Auburn wouldn’t mind having a 24-7 halftime lead like the Tide did last year.

What To Watch Out For: Welcome to Trent Richardson’s Heisman moment. Has he been the best player in America this year? No. Has he been the best running back in America this year? Not really, and he might not even make some All-America first teams. 15 of his 20 rushing scores so far have come against Kent State, North Texas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Georgia Southern, but he ran for 111 yards and two scores against Penn State and came up with five catches for 80 yards against LSU. In a wide open race, the voters are looking for splash on a national scale, and Auburn has the soft defense to do it. In 2009, Mark Ingram won the Heisman in an MVP sort of a way, coming through with a monster performance to beat Florida in the SEC championship. However, he was held to 30 yards on 16 carries in the win over Auburn. Richardson isn’t likely to get a shot at the SEC title game, so he needs to come up with at least 150 yards and two scores to get a ticket to New York.

Sophomore quarterback Clint Moseley has been trying to get the passing offense going, but he’s not having too much luck. Thrown to the wolves, he has thrown five touchdown passes, with four coming against Ole Miss, and just two picks as he tries to add some semblance of balance to the attack. He did his job against the Rebels, completing 12-of-15 passes, but he’s not airing it out much and he’s taking mostly safe throws when they’re available. Against the Tide he’ll have to push the ball down the field a bit and hit on a few deep balls to do something, anything, to keep the linebackers from teeing off on Dyer.

What Will Happen: Alabama is nothing if not self-aware. The players and the coaches appear to get it: they want to end the debate now. So you don’t think the Tide deserves to play a rematch against LSU? It’s going to show that it really and truly might be the best team in America with a dominant performance on both sides of the ball. The Tiger offense won’t be able to breathe, while Richardson will come up with a huge day to put himself front and center in the Heisman chase.

CFN Prediction: Alabama 34 … Auburn 10
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