His team called, and he answered. It called and it called and it called again, and every time he answered. Derrick Henry rushed 46 times for 271 yards to lead No. 2 Alabama past Auburn 29-13 Saturday evening in the Iron Bowl. The win sends Alabama to the SEC Championship for the second consecutive year and fifth time under head coach Nick Saban.
After a field goal exhibition in the first half, Alabama found paydirt first on a 34-yard scoring strike from Jake Coker to ArDarius Stewart, pushing the lead to 19-6 with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Auburn immediately responded when Jeremy Johnson hit Jason Smith for a Ricardo Louis-style tipped 77-yard touchdown pass.
Alabama pushed the lead back to two scores with another Griffith field goal — his fifth of the day — from 47 yards out with 10:04 remaining.
The Tide forced a punt after Griffith’s field goal, then consumed more than five minutes in a 10-play, 51-yard drive that was mostly all Henry. Auburn eventually forced a turnover on downs on a 4th-and-1 at the Auburn 31, but immediately gave the ball back when Johnson threw a three-yard completion to Peyton Barber and three straight incompletions to Melvin Ray, the final a drop that hit an open Ray right in the hands with 2:09 remaining.
The win sends Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) to the SEC Championship for the second consecutive year, the third time in their last four years and fifth time since 2008. Overall, this will be the Tide’s 10th SEC Championship appearance and eighth time opposite East champion Florida. Alabama is 3-4 in the previous seven meetings.
Auburn closes its regular season at 6-6 and a dead-last 2-6 in the SEC West. No team has see-sawed this decade like the Tigers, with their two SEC championships in the last six seasons but two last place finishes in the SEC West since 2012. The loss drops the Tigers to 2-9 in their last 11 games against SEC competition.
No. 2 Alabama holds a 12-6 lead over Auburn at halftime of the Iron Bowl.
Alabama’s offense has been typical of the 2015 season — Derrick Henry and not much else. Henry rushed 16 times for 102 yards, while Jake Coker hit 9-of-15 passes for 106 yards.
Adam Griffith kicked field goals of 26, 40, 26 and 50 yards for the Tide, while Auburn’s Daniel Carlson countered with makes of 24 and 44 yards. Carlson also missed from 48 yards toward the end of the half, ending a streak of 15 consecutive makes.
Jovon Robinson led Auburn with 12 carries for 53 yards, while Jeremy Johnson hit 3-of-7 passes for 56 yards with three rushes for 14 yards.
Alabama held a slight 109-104 edge over Auburn in ground yards, and neither team committed a turnover.
Alabama will receive the ball to open the second half.
The Ole Miss Rebels are on the move in the coaches poll. After an impressive victory in Tuscaloosa Saturday night, Ole Miss jumped six spots in the coaches poll, released Sunday. The Rebels moved up to No. 5 in the poll, while TCU, Michigan State and Baylor each moved up a spot behind No. 1 Ohio State.
The Buckeyes received 61 of 64 possible first-place votes. The other three first-place votes went to No. 3 Michigan State. TCU moved up a spot to reclaim the second spot in the coaches poll after previously being jumped by Alabama. The Crimson Tide dropped 10 spots in the poll this week, from No. 2 down to No. 12. According to the coaches poll, Alabama is the best one-loss team in the nation.
Somehow the coaches poll still ranks Auburn, with the Tigers hanging on by a thread at No. 25 after losing on the road at LSU (up to No. 9 this week). Many seemed to think Auburn had no business being ranked after an overtime victory over Jacksonville State the previous week.
The only team to drop out of the coaches poll this week was BYU, after a narrow road loss at No. 11 UCLA.No. 23 Missouri, which escaped a home game with a 9-6 victory over UConn also managed to stay ranked this week, although the Tigers fell three spots.
No. 24 Stanford makes a return to the coaches poll after winning at No. 18 USC (down 11 spots). The team that defeated Stanford, Northwestern, is ranked right behind the Trojans at No. 19.
- Ohio State (61 first-place votes)
- Michigan State (3)
- Ole Miss
- Florida State
- Notre Dame
- Texas A&M
- Georgia Tech
- Oklahoma State
Only a little over four months until college football. That’s practically nothing! It’s only one-third of the year!
Fortunately, we have some stuff to talk about this Monday morning involving that first week of the season. The 5dimes sportsbook released some fresh Week 1 odds, with the following highlights:
Ohio State – 20.5 @ Virginia Tech
TCU – 19.5 @ Minnesota
UCLA – 16 @ Virginia
Alabama – 12.5 vs. Wisconsin (Arlington, Texas)
Auburn – 12.5 vs. Louisville (Atlanta, Ga.)
Notre Dame -12.5 vs. Texas
South Carolina – 7.5 vs. North Carolina
Texas A&M – 5.5 vs. Arizona State
Utah – 3.5 vs. Michigan
There’s plenty of time for transfers, injuries and suspensions to affect these lines. Ohio State and Virginia Tech may have opposite trajectories right now, but the Buckeyes being nearly a three-touchdown favorite on the road against a Power Five opponent stands out.
On the other end of the spectrum, Jim Harbaugh certainly won’t have an easy debut heading to Salt Lake City. And while Texas is still grinding through a rebuild, Notre Dame only has beat two Power Five teams at home by more than 12 points in the last three years (Michigan 2014, Wake Forest 2012).
Georgia State has a long way to go to compete with a number of high-profile programs, so for now cashing checks from those big time football powers is the only way to go. Georgia State has added a pair of SEC foes to the future schedules, with a nice guaranteed check attached to each.
According to FBSchedules.com, Georgia State will play Alabama in 2020 and Auburn in 2021. Both games will be played on the road for Georgia State and are one-year agreements. Between the two games, Georgia State will receive $1.3 million from Alabama and $1.25 million from Auburn.
Alabama will host Georgia State on September 12, 2020. Auburn will host Georgia State the following season on September 25, 2021. Neither game, of course, will satisfy Alabama’s or Auburn’s non-conference scheduling requirement in the SEC for those seasons. Alabama will still have to meet the power-conference scheduling requirement (which now includes Notre Dame, BYU and Army… yes, Army) in 2020. Auburn already has the requirement satisfied with a road game at California of the Pac-12. It is the second game of a home-and-home deal that starts at Auburn in 2020.
Alabama leads the all-time series with the still infant Georgia State program. The crimson Tide won meetings in 2010 and 2013 by a combined score of 108-10. Auburn and Georgia State have never met before.