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November 24, 2012

Alabama demolishes Auburn

TUSCALOOSA | In defiance of Mapquest, Alabama showed the easiest route from Tuscaloosa to Atlanta was to go right through Auburn.

The Tigers didn't even provide a noticeable bump in the road in the regular-season finale for the Crimson Tide on Saturday, with Alabama rolling to an easy 49-0 blowout to clinch the Southeastern Conference Western Division title and what amounts to a BCS semifinal game against Georgia next Saturday.

It was the second most-lopsided win in series history, surpassed only by Alabama's 55-0 win in 1948, and could have been far worse if Nick Saban had been less merciful. The Crimson Tide led 42-0 at the half, pulled its starters after one series in the third quarter and halted its final possession by taking a knee at the Tiger 5-yard line.

The loss ended a miserable season for Auburn, which finished 3-9 overall, 0-8 in the SEC. The Tide has outscored AU 91-14 in the past two meetings and Auburn has not scored an offensive point in either game.

Embattled Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who has a 4-12 SEC record over the past two seasons, declined comment on his job status in the wake of the loss.

Saban, meanwhile, had praise for his team, which will advance to the SEC title game for the third time in his six-year Alabama tenure.

"We really executed well offensively in the first half," Saban said. "I feel great about the seniors being able to close out their career with a win like this. This is a great rivalry game and it means a lot to our players and our fans.

"We had a lot of people who played well. Eddie (Lacy) did a good job running the ball, the offensive line played well and Amari Cooper had some big catches. But this was a great team victory.

Tide starting quarterback AJ McCarron, who left the game after just one series in the second half, completed 15 of 21 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns. Lacy, who also came out after the initial third-quarter possession for the Crimson Tide, gained 131 yards on 18 carries, scoring twice on short runs. TJ Yeldon also had a 2-yard touchdown run, while Cooper and Kevin Norwood each had two touchdown catches from McCarron.

Alabama converted its first 11 third-down chances in the game.

"We did a good job of keeping drives alive on third down," Saban said. "But a lot of that has to do with what you do on first and second down. I thought we kept ourselves in manageable situations."

Auburn, meanwhile, never came close to scoring. It entered Alabama territory only twice in 12 possessions and never moved beyond the Alabama 41. The shutout was the fourth of the season for the Crimson Tide, the most in a single season since 1979.

Alabama suffered one major injury in the game. Wide receiver Kenny Bell suffered a broken tibia and will require surgery that will sideline him for the rest of the season.

The No. 2 Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1 in SEC) can reach its third BCS championship game in four years with a win over No. 3 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game next Saturday. The Bulldogs capped an 11-1 regular season with a 42-10 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.

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