Auburn was within a field goal at halftime, and then the wheels came off.
Alabama’s huge third quarter blew open a tight game and the Tide ran away with a 52-21 victory to improve to 12-0 and finish a perfect regular season. Tua Tagovailoa threw for five touchdowns, ran for another, and 35 second half points were too much for an Auburn team that ran out of tricks early.
After trading punts to begin the game, Auburn actually struck first as Shaun Shivers split the Alabama defense for a 75-yard touchdown, but a holding penalty brought the run back, and the Tide scored on a short Tagovailoa run to take a 7-0 lead immediately after. Auburn would answer with a 10-play, 73-yard drive that was capped by a 9-yard Anthony Schwartz speed sweep to tie the game at 7-7 near the end of the first quarter. It was the first time all year that Alabama hadn’t led at the end of the first quarter.
However, Alabama ran off 10 straight points on a short touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs and a short Joseph Bulovas field goal to take a 17-7 lead, but Gus Malzahn’s bag of tricks is never-ending. Ryan Davis took a lateral from Jarrett Stidham and tossed it to Malik Miller for a touchdown with 4:04 left in the half to pull the Tigers within a field goal. Auburn actually got the ball back near the end of the quarter but chose not to press and took a 17-14 deficit into the locker room.
Unfortunately, things fell apart right out of the half. Tagovailoa tossed a 46-yard touchdown to Jerry Jeudy on the Tide’s opening drive of the third quarter, and then followed it up with a loft to Josh Jacobs for a 33-yard score to open up a 31-14 lead. Auburn answered with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Stidham to Darius Slayton that came on an underthrown ball. Slayton doubled back and found the ball, scooped it up, and surged for the end zone to pull the Tigers back within 10 points at 31-21. That was the last time Auburn would find the end zone.
Alabama got three more touchdowns to blow open the game: two more long passes from Tagovailoa to DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs, and a 53-yard strike from Jalen Hurts to Jaylen Waddle to close the door and bring up the final margin of 52-21.
Tagovailoa threw for 324 yards and 5 touchdowns, while running for another. Jerry Jeudy led all receivers with 5 catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Alabama rolled up 500 yards of offense on the night. Auburn was limited to just 283 yards, with Jarrett Stidham throwing for 127 yards and 1 touchdown with an interception.
The Tide will play Georgia next Saturday at 3 pm CST for the SEC Championship, while Auburn finishes the season at 7-5 and will await a bowl destination a week from tomorrow.