Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


Saturday night the Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) battled back after a horrendous first half to defeat the Auburn Tigers (8-4) 55-44 in the highest-scoring Iron Bowl in the history of the rivalry.

A gutsy performance from quarterback Blake Sims and another record-setting day for All American Amari Cooper carried the Tide offense to victory in the second half while the defense finally settled in and made some massive plays in the clutch. Alabama, after winning the SEC Western Championship earlier in the day with a Mississippi State loss, saved their CFB Playoff chances with the win.

The Good

Blake Sims started out extremely efficient in the day, but then became rattled near the first quarter and ended up throwing three interceptions en route to what looked like a collapse by Alabama.

He rebounded, however, with three touchdowns in the second half. Sims looked rattled as the first half wore on and as the second half started with some of his most inaccurate throws of the season. After Jacob Coker was seen warming up on the sideline following Sims’ third interception, Sims exploded with two long touchdown passes on the next two drives.

Overall Sims was very efficient, completing 20 of his 27 passes, but the problem was that three of his seven incompletions were interceptions. Despite the horrible stretch he had in the second quarter and early third quarter, it was incredible to see the guts and fortitude that he showed down the stretch. Much like the final minutes against LSU, Sims showed that he is a winner, and when it comes down to clutch time his coaches can rely on him.

Amari Cooper continues to be, in my opinion, the best player in college football. He tied his own single game receiving record with 13 catches and 224 yards with three TDs on the game. Cooper was unstoppable in the second half and it looked like he was a man amongst boys. Auburn tried everything to stop him including zone coverage, man-to-man coverage, and even double teaming him. Nothing worked and he routinely ran past defensive backs en route to one of the finest receiving performances in Alabama history possibly punching his ticket to the Heisman Trophy presentation in December.

A healthy TJ Yeldon is dangerous, and he was the healthiest he looked all season against Auburn, running for 127 yards and two scores. If Yeldon and the offensive line can remain healthy heading into the playoff stretch it will be major for this offensive line. Derrick Henry didn’t manage to get much attention in the first half, but when Alabama needed to try to ice the game they went to big No. 27. Henry broke off a 49 yard run in the fourth quarter and then a couple of plays later punched it in for the icing touchdown.

The defense was shredded in the first half and just didn’t look like they had any way to stop Nick Marshall and the Auburn offense. They bounced back with some huge plays in the second half including a big interception and multiple fourth down stops. Despite a horrible first quarter Alabama managed to stop four red zone drives for Auburn and forced field goals which really saved Alabama to be able to make their comeback. The Tide’s red zone offense in general was excellent against Auburn despite playing pretty poorly overall, especially in the first half.

Landon Collins was all over the field as the unquestioned leader of the Alabama defense, playing the majority of the game near the line of scrimmage. He made several huge hits in the game and was a tone setter in the second half. The other defensive leader Trey DePriest also had a massive game, and one of his better of the season.

Jalston Fowler had a massive game, probably the best of his career as a blocker, and made a few big runs as well on third down.

The Bad

Eddie Jackson was burned to a crisp all game in possibly the worst game of his career. He struggled all game long and eventually was replaced by Bradley Sylve.

The defense as a whole played horrendously in the first half, other than red zone defense, getting slashed up and down the field allowing almost as many 30+ yard passes in this game than they had all year long.

The Ugly

Blake Sims’ performance in the second quarter was one of the ugliest things imaginable and pass defense may have been THE ugliest thing Alabama has put together all year.

The first half was the worst half of football this team has played and quite possibly the worst half of football under Nick Saban since 2008. The fact that the Tide stayed in the game after getting their yardage nearly tripled in the first half is a minor miracle and can be attributed to Auburn’s fumble on the first play of the game and the Tide’s red zone defense.

Alabama heads back to the Georgia Dome, where the season started, to battle Missouri in the SEC Championship which is the last speed bump in the road in the way of Alabama’s hunt for theC CFB Playoffs.

Final Stats

Blake Sims: 20-27, 312 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT; 5 carries, 23 yards, 1 TD

TJ Yeldon: 19 carries, 127 yards, 2 TD; 1 catch, 13 yards
Derrick Henry: 5 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD
Jalston Fowler: 3 carries, 11 yards; 1 catch, 15 yards

Amari Cooper: 13 catches, 224 yards, 3 TD
DeAndrew White: 3 catches, 19 yards
Christion Jones: 1 catch, 21 yards
OJ Howard: 1 catch, 20 yards

Trey DePriest: 14 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss
Nick Perry: 13 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1 INT, 23 yards, 1 pass breakup
Geno Smith: 10 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss
Landon Collins: 9 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Cyrus Jones: 8 tackles
Eddie Jackson: 5 tackles
Jarran Reed: 4 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss
Bradley Sylve: 3 tackles, 2 pass breakups
Jonathan Allen: 3 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack
A’Shawn Robinson: 3 tackles, 1 quarterback hurry
Reggie Ragland: 3 tackles, 1 fumble recovery
DJ Pettway: 2 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 2 quarterback hurries
Xzavier Dickson: 2 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack, 1 quarterback hurry
OJ Howard: 2 tackles
Jabriel Washington: 2 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Dalvin Tomlinson: 2 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 1quarterback hurry
Ryan Anderson: 1 tackle, 1.0 tackle for loss
Parker Barrineau: 1 tackle
Tim Williams: 1 tackle, 1 quarterback hurry
Dillon Lee: 1 tackle
Christion Jones: 1 tackle
Rashaan Evans: 1 quarterback hurry
Darren Lake: 1 quarterback hurry

JK Scott: 2 punts, 55.5 yards per punt (long: 70 yards)
Gunnar Raborn: 3/4 XPs
Adam Griffith: 2/2 XPs
Christion Jones: 2 punt returns, 24 yards; 3 kickoff returns, 63 yards