The Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers met last Saturday for what turned out to be a blowout. But the events of Saturday afternoon did not have the feel of an actual football game. The pulse of Tuscaloosa was unusual for an Iron Bowl weekend. In the few days prior, there was no indication of uneasiness among Tide fans.
Not even nightmare scenarios of Alabama possibly losing were entertained; such foolish hypotheticals need have an outside chance of actually happening in order to discuss them. The butterflies, which I have become accustomed to having before this game every year, were absent.
Well before kickoff, I paced along the iron fence and the red brick pavers that outline the perimeter of the field at Bryant-Denny, wondering to what history I might bear witness, and peered at the Auburn players warming up in their end zone. I studied them, unsure really what I was looking for, but eventually realized I was looking for signs of life. An inkling, perhaps, that their last glimmer of hope had not been extinguished. Something; anything, to tell me,” Hey, it’s time to start worrying.”
But as I watched their movements I found nothing. A player would occasionally jump up and down trying to uplift their downtrodden team, but these clearly transparent and forced acts of encouragement had no effect and were largely ignored by their teammates. They were already defeated.
As the Auburn players headed back to the locker room before they would eventually run out of the tunnel to meet their doom, their body language had all the indications of a group of men who had accepted their fate, like gladiator slaves being sent to violent slaughter for the amusement of bloodthirsty college football fans.
The 77th installment of the Iron Bowl was not a game. It was the college football equivalent of a public execution. The Tide demolished the Tigers in Bryant-Denny Stadium 49-0.
AJ McCarron was highly efficient, going 15-of-21 for 216 yards and four touchdowns. Eddie Lacy rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns, and Amari Cooper added 109 yards receiving and two touchdowns as well. Lacy eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing mark with his performance.
The final score was a product of ‘Bama’s first seven possessions, which all resulted in touchdowns. It was the second shutout in as many wins for Alabama in an Iron Bowl played at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Auburn’s miserable season has mercifully come to an end. In Auburn’s nine losses, they were outscored 298-100.
Auburn has predictably fired head coach Gene Chizik. Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs hired Chizik, and it turned out to be the worst hire in the history of the modern SEC. In attempt to circumvent responsibility this time around, Jacobs is employing the use of a committee to hire their next coach. For an athletic director to delegate such an important responsibility as hiring a head football coach to a ‘braintrust’ of former players and coaches is astonishing. This is just another example of the distance between the Alabama and Auburn programs.
With the formality of victory over the Auburn Tigers on Saturday, Alabama clinched the SEC West and will take on SEC East champion Georgia in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Saturday, December 1st, and have opened as 8-point favorites. The winner of this game is assured a spot in the BCS Championship Game on January 7.
For Auburn, the future is anyone’s guess.
Follow Jeff on Twitter.