Alabama had Auburn on the ropes early and a knockout seemed imminent. The Tigers, though, absorbed the blows and then connected on some haymakers of its own. And, in the end, it was the home team staggering around the ring very much looking punch drunk.
In a rivalry game that could really throw the College Football Playoff chase into utter chaos thanks to earlier carnage, 20 second-quarter points pushed the Tigers to a 26-21 halftime lead. The Tide took a 14-3 lead a little over eight minutes into the game before the Tigers righted the listing ship.
A pair of field goals in the second quarter bookended two scoring connections between Nick Marshall and Sammie Coates — a 34-yarder with 10:18 left in the quarter and another with :54 left.
That second scoring toss came :29 after the Tide had taken a 21-16 lead on a T.J. Yeldon touchdown.
After the second Marshall-Coates hook-up and with :37 left in the half, Blake Sims tossed his second interception of the game. Another Marshall deep ball got the Tigers on the doorstep of another touchdown, but AU had to settle for yet another field goal on a drive that went into the red zone.
It’s highly likely that Nick Saban will spend a sizable portion of his time in the locker room eviscerating his normally stout defense. Through two quarters, the Tigers put up 383 yards of offense as the Tide could do little to slow down the high-octane offense. The damage actually could’ve been worse as three early AU trips into the red zone resulted in a trio of field goals instead of touchdowns in addition to the aforementioned trip late in the second quarter.
The good news for Alabama, which has already claimed the SEC West title thanks to Mississippi State’s Egg Bowl loss to Ole Miss, is that they get the ball on offense to start the second half.