EditorsNote: Added reference to the SEC title game, fixes spelling of DeVonta Smith
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw five touchdown passes, including three that went for at least 33 yards in the third quarter, and ran for a score as the No. 1 Crimson Tide finished off the visiting Auburn Tigers 52-21 in their annual Iron Bowl matchup at Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Tagovailoa went 25 of 32 for 324 yards for the Tide (12-0, 8-0 in the SEC), the champs of the conference’s West Division, who have a date in the SEC title game next Saturday against the East champion, No. 5 Georgia.
Auburn (7-5, 3-5 SEC), which last year knocked off Alabama when it was again the top-rated team, trailed only 17-14 entering the third quarter, before the game quickly turned.
Tagovailoa needed only five plays to take the Tide 75 yards, capped by a 46-yard strike to Jerry Jeudy, to extend the lead to 24-14.
When the Alabama defense forced Auburn into a three-and-out, the offense quickly capitalized, with Tagovailoa finding running back Josh Jacobs for a 33-yard strike and a 31-14 lead.
Two possessions later, Auburn made a last gasp. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham caught the defense in a blitz and hit Darius Slayton for a 52-yard touchdown to make it 31-21.
Auburn’s defense, however, was helpless to slow down Alabama’s offense, which finished with 500 yards of total offense, just shy of its season average of 541 per game. The 52 points surpassed the Tide’s average of 48.
Tagovailoa hit DeVonta Smith for a 40-yard pass late in the third quarter, and then Jalen Hurts came in at quarterback and quickly found Jaylen Waddle for a 53-yarder.
Stidham went 13 of 30 for 127 yards with the one touchdown, and he was intercepted once. The Tigers finished with 283 yards on offense.
The Tigers’ frustrations began early with dropped passes on their first drive, and accelerated when Shaun Shivers had an apparent 75-yard touchdown run called back on a holding penalty.
After Auburn punted, it took Alabama only five plays to get on the board, when Tagovailoa knocked a Tigers defender out of the way to score at the pylon on a 7-yard run.
Auburn came right back, however, finishing off a 73-yard drive by a 9-yard sweep by Anthony Schwartz to tie the score at 7-7.
Henry Ruggs III caught a 4-yard touchdown pass as the Tide went back in front, and a 30-yard field goal by Joseph Bulovas made it 17-7 with 8:59 to go before halftime.
Auburn closed the gap on a double-pass, with Stidham lateraling to Ryan Davis, who found Malik Miller for a 23-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 17-14 at the half.
—Field Level Media