Auburn fades against No. 2 Alabama in 42-14 loss
Auburn coach Gene Chizik started taking stock of the season in
the immediate aftermath of the frustrating finale.
The review, predictably, was mixed.
The Tigers (7-5, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) couldn’t pull off
another magical Iron Bowl comeback or muster much offense in
Saturday’s 42-14 loss to No. 2 Alabama. Now, the defending national
champions wait for what will likely be a mid-tier bowl
”It’s been a lot of ups and downs this season for 12 games,”
Chizik said. ”We’ve had some really good games. We’ve had some
disappointments, and this is certainly one of the huge
disappointments. I’ve got a locker room full of guys right now and
coaches that are hurting and a lot of fans that are hurting as
well. So this is a tough day.”
Auburn hung in there against the Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1), going
into the fourth quarter within 13 points. Then Clint Moseley had an
interception returned 35 yards by Dee Milliner for a touchdown and
Alabama added another TD.
”We wanted to keep the game close in the fourth quarter and
have a chance to win the game,” Chizik said. ”We got to the
fourth quarter and felt like we were somewhere in that ballpark,
and the fourth quarter got away from us. We kind of
Trent Richardson rushed for a career-high 203 yards and AJ
McCarron threw three first-half touchdown passes for the Tide in
what amounted to a statement game.
Alabama coach Nick Saban began taking a different kind of stock.
He said he thinks the Tide is one of the nation’s best two teams,
Richardson’s the top player and `Bama deserves a second shot at No.
1 LSU for a national title.
”This team lost one game in overtime to a very, very good team
who’s No. 1 right now,” the Tide coach said. ”And we lost in
overtime. Everybody’s got to make their choices and decisions about
”But I think we’ve got a great football team and a great bunch
of young men who have done a wonderful job and played some really
dominant football on both sides of the ball. I think they deserve
an opportunity, the best opportunity that’s out there for
The Tide 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. 5 Oklahoma State, fourth in the BCS standings, and No. 1 LSU
have big games remaining against No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 13
”That’s out of our hands but I think we’ve proven we should be
there without a doubt,” said Alabama tight end Brad Smelley, who
had six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
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.
”To me, Trent’s the best football player in the country,”
The thousands of `Bama faithful in the stands seemed to
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.
Richardson said he’d already gotten a call from LSU star Russell
Shepard saying ”See you in New Orleans” for the title game.
Even if the national picture remains fuzzy, it’s pretty clear
which is the best team in the state.
Alabama entered the quarter with a 309-44 advantage in total
yards but also gave up touchdowns on Ken Carter’s fumble recovery
in the end zone and an 83-yard kick return by Onterio McCalebb.
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.
”Any time you’ve got No. 3 in your backfield, a team’s going to
challenge you,” McCarron said.
The result 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.
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.
”It was the best defense we’ve played against this year,”
Moseley said. ”I feel pretty confident saying that.”
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.
All those were blowouts but Chizik said his team wasn’t having
”It wasn’t here we go again,” he said. ”It was just let’s
keep fighting and let’s keep playing and let’s get this thing in
the fourth quarter and keep it close enough where we could win
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
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