TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Second-ranked Alabama (11-1 overall; 7-1 in the Southeastern Conference) scored touchdowns on its first seven offensive possessions to quickly put away struggling arch-rival Auburn (3-9; 0-8 in the SEC), 49-0, in the latest renewal of the Iron Bowl before a capacity crowd of 101,821 on a crisp, sunny Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The victory gave Alabama the SEC Western Division title and a berth in the SEC Championship Game next Saturday in Atlanta against Georgia.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron passed for 216 yards and four touchdowns, completing 15 of 21 passes without an interception, running back Eddie Lacy rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and receiver Amari Cooper caught five passes for 109 yards and two scores to highlight the Crimson Tide output. Meanwhile, Alabama's defense garnered its fourth shutout of the 2012 season, the most in a single season by a Crimson Tide team since 1979.
Senior safety Robert Lester led the Alabama defense with five tackles and an interception and the Alabama defense created seven tackles for losses, forced three fumbles (recovering one), intercepted two passes and had two quarterback sacks. Alabama held Auburn to 163 total yards, 92 rushing and 71 passing, and only seven first downs on the day.
Alabama's offense racked up 483 total yards in the game, 267 rushing and 216 passing, while gaining 25 first downs and averaging 5.7 yards per play. The Tide was 11-for-14 on third down and held possession for 33:11 of game time.
Alabama took the lead in the early stages by scoring on its opening possession, marching 75 yards in 10 plays on a drive that was aided by two Auburn penalties. Lacy rushed for 21 yards on five carries on the drive, capping the possession with a two-yard run around left end for the touchdown. The big gainer on the march was a 20-yard pass from McCarron to Cooper from the Alabama 44 to the Auburn 36. That play was augmented by a 15-yard personal foul incurred when Tigers safety T'Sharvan Bell was penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cooper at the end of the play. Three plays later, Alabama converted a third-and-five situation via a pass interference penalty on Auburn during an incompletion intended for receiver Kevin Norwood in the end zone. Lacy scored on the next play. Placekicker Jeremy Shelley's point-after kick gave Alabama a 7-0 lead with 11:07 left in the first quarter.
The Tide defense forced Auburn to punt after three plays on the Tigers' first possession. The Tide's ensuing drive began at the Alabama 39 and was sparked by a 10-yard pass to receiver Christion Jones on third-and-four to the Auburn 45. After an Auburn offside penalty negated an incompletion, McCarron passed to Cooper on an out pattern at the left sideline for a 16-yard gain as Cooper was knocked out of bounds at the Auburn 24. Facing third-and-seven at the Auburn 21, McCarron passed to receiver Kenny Bell on a crossing pattern. Bell took the pass at the Auburn 20 and ran to the Auburn six-yard line before being forced out of bounds by T'Sharvan Bell. On first down, running back T.J. Yeldon was stopped for no gain, then McCarron rushed from the pocked for four yards to the Tiger two-yard line before Yeldon carried off right tackle for two yards and a touchdown with 5:01 remaining in the first quarter. The 61-yard, 10-play drive gave Alabama a 14-0 lead with Shelley's conversion kick.
After a short Auburn drive into Alabama territory was stopped at the Tide 41, Alabama resumed possession at its own 11-yard line as the first quarter came to a close. From there, Alabama marched to its third touchdown in as many possessions to take a 21-0 lead with 12:38 remaining in the second quarter.
A seven-yard pass from McCarron to Norwood converted a third-and-six to the Alabama 23, and then McCarron passed to Christion Jones, who eluded two tackles for an eight-yard gain to the Tide 31. Lacy then took a handoff from a falling McCarron, raced through a hole at left tackle and split two downfield tacklers on a 32-yard run to the Auburn 37. On the next play, McCarron faked a handoff and passed deep on a post pattern to Cooper, who caught the pass deep in the end zone behind the Auburn defense for a touchdown to cap a six-play, 88-yard drive that put the Tide up by three touchdowns.
Auburn's next possession ended in an interception. After the Tigers moved from their 15 to the Tiger 38, quarterback Jonathan Wallace threw to tight end C.J. Uzomah who was open in a seam of the Tide defense. But Wallace's pass was slightly high and Uzomah reached but could only tip the ball into the air. Alabama safety Robert Lester hauled in the pass at the Alabama 40-yard line and returned it 31 yards to the Tiger 29 with 9:58 left in the second quarter. The interception was Lester's 14th career theft, moving him into a tie for fifth on the Crimson Tide career interceptions list.
Starting at the Tiger 29, Alabama's offense moved goalward quickly. After an incompletion, Yeldon took a draw play off right guard and muscled through defenders for 19 yards to the Tiger 10. After an incompletion, Yeldon gained three more on another draw to the Auburn seven to set up third and goal. After an Auburn timeout, McCarron lined up in the shotgun formation and calmly connected with Norwood in the middle of the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Shelley's kick gave Alabama a 28-0 lead with 8:39 left in the second quarter.
After forcing another Auburn punt on the Tigers' next possession, Alabama marched 64 yards in seven plays to its fourth touchdown in as many possessions to take a 35-0 lead with 4:43 left in the first half. Lacy was the stalwart on the march, carrying on six of the seven plays for 54 of the 64 yards on the march, including runs of 23, 15, six, seven and two yards before ending the drive with a one-yard dive off left tackle for the score. Lacy moved past the century mark for rushing yards on the drive, reaching 111 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns following his second marker of the day.
Auburn's half of misery was prolonged on its next possession. After moving from their own 26 to the Tiger 42, running back Tre Mason fumbled after a five-yard rush with Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner scooping up the ball and returning it 17 yards to the Tiger 35-yard line. After a Yeldon rush gained seven and a false start moved the ball back to the Auburn 33, McCarron passed for four yards to Christion Jones then hit Cooper on a short slant pattern. Cooper bounced off a pair of Auburn tacklers and popped free, racing 29 yards for Alabama's sixth touchdown of the half and a 42-0 lead with 31 seconds left in the second period.
That lead marks the largest halftime lead by either team in the history of the Iron Bowl series, surpassing a 34-0 lead by Auburn in 1957, a game that ended with a 40-0 verdict for the Tigers over the Tide.
The Tide increased the lead on its opening possession with another touchdown, this one a 38-yard pass from McCarron to Norwood that gave Alabama a 49-0 lead with 9:03 left in the third quarter. The march went 61 yards in seven plays following an Auburn punt. Lacy moved past 1,000 rushing yards for the season on the drive. That drive ended the day's work for the Alabama starters.