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Alabama humbles Auburn in 49-0 rout

The SportsXchange

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When fans think back to the 2012 version of the rivalry game known as the Iron Bowl, the image of an anvil should come to mind.

As in the University of Alabama grabbing one and dropping it squarely on Auburn.

With junior quarterback AJ McCarron throwing four touchdown passes and junior running back Eddie Lacy tallying 131 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Alabama reached the end zone on its first seven possessions while destroying its archenemy 49-0.

Consequently, rivalry weekend atop the Southeastern Conference was turned into a mere formality Saturday. Combined with Georgia's 42-10 win against Georgia Tech, the two division winners will meet for the league title next week in Atlanta with a trip to the BCS Championship Game on the line.

"It's been awesome, it's been a great ride, what a way to end it," senior center Barrett Jones said about his last game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. "I thought we came out and did our job, and beat them pretty soundly. I thought we changed the way they thought."

Actually, the Crimson Tide pretty much made the Tigers quit ... in the second quarter.

While the defense notched its fourth shutout of the season, the most by an Alabama team since the 1979 national champions, the offense converted its first 11 third-down opportunities.

"That's as close to prefect as we can get," Lacy said.

Alabama could have made the 77th game in the rivalry the most lopsided, topping the 55-0 victory in 1948 when the series was renewed after a 41-year break in the series, but held back in the second half.

The only setback for No. 2 Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC), was the loss of junior receiver Kenny Bell, who broke his leg in the second quarter. Bell's leg will require a rod to be inserted.

Freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper had 109 yards on five catches with touchdowns of 37 and 29 yards, while junior Kevin Norwood had touchdown receptions of 38 and 7 yards.

With Nick Saban's "Never again" still echoing from the last meeting here in 2010, when Auburn came back from a 24-point deficit for a 28-27 victory, Alabama executed two 10-play touchdown drives in the first quarter to set the tone.

"It's really frustrating, but we dug ourselves into a hole," Auburn running back Tre Mason said.

The second quarter was even worse for the Tigers, when two turnovers and poor tackling helped turn the game into a rout. Safety Robert Lester's interception of a tipped ball and cornerback Dee Milliner's fumble recovery both led to touchdowns, and Alabama went into the break with a 328-99 edge in total yards.

"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," Milliner said. "The ball bounced right into my hands and I just took off running with it."

After Alabama scored on its first possession of the second half, both teams went to their reserves, with Auburn temporarily pulling freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace. He completed just 5 of 14 pass attempts for 71 yards and two interceptions.

Just two years after winning the national championship, Auburn (3-9) finished winless in SEC play for the first time since going 0-6 in Doug Barfield's final season in 1980. It had never gone 0-8 before.

The Tigers' struggles have led to widespread speculation about coach Gene Chizik's job status, compounded by the numerous reports earlier in the week that the NCAA is once again investigating Auburn.

"Obviously, that was a very disappointing and embarrassing loss to our in-state rivals," Chizik said. "It was obvious to everybody. It was a sad performance and the Auburn fans and the Auburn alumni don't deserve that. We did all the classic things in a football game that you can't do and expect to win. We just got beat.

"We've got to coach better. We've got to play better. They just soundly beat us tonight. That's it."

Notes: Before the game, Alabama held its annual Senior Day ceremony, this time honoring Quinton Dial, Nico Johnson, Barrett Jones, Robert Lester, Damion Square, Carson Tinker, Chance Warmack, Jesse Williams and Michael Williams, along with a dozen walk-ons including kicker Jeremy Shelley and H-back Kelly Johnson. Only Colorado, Indiana and Rice had fewer scholarship seniors this season with eight. The senior class, which has already won two national titles, is 47-5, which set a Crimson Tide record. ... The 42-0 score was the largest halftime lead Alabama has ever had against rival Auburn. It was also the first time in the history of the series that either team has scored more than 40 points in two consecutive games. ... McCarron moved into sole possession of second place on Alabama's career touchdown passing list with 44. John Parker Wilson holds the school record with 47. ... Auburn hasn't scored an offensive touchdown against Alabama in 131:55 of game time, dating back to the opening minutes of the fourth quarter of the 2010 game. ... Auburn (3-9) posted the worst record by a team within two years of winning a national championship during the Associated Press poll era.
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