AUBURN — There was no Kick Six this time, just Kick Butt.
The No. 6-ranked Auburn Tigers controlled most of the game, dominating time of possession, dominating on third downs and taking a comfortable 26-14 victory over No. 1 Alabama on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The 12-point margin was Alabama’s largest in the cross-state rivalry since 1969 and propelled the Tigers, as SEC Western Division champions, into next week’s SEC Championship Game against Georgia.
The Tigers outgained Alabama only 408-377 but held the ball for more than 36 minutes. AU converted 9 of 18 third-down tries, while Alabama was just 3 of 11, with those three coming in the fourth quarter.
“We could not get off the field on third down and that led to several scoring drives for them,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “And we couldn’t convert on third down and that affects time of possession. So it was the offense and the defense.
“I’m sorry I could not do a better job as a coach and a leader for us to get us to the SEC Championship game.”
Alabama got off to a slow start, choosing to punt on a fourth-and-one at the Auburn 48 on its first possession and ultimately failing to score in the first quarter for the first time this season. AU then jumped to a 7-0 lead by marching 94 yards on the ensuing possession, capping the drive on a 3-yard pass from tailback Kerryon Johnson, who took the snap in a wildcat formation, to Nate Craig-Myers.
Alabama answered in the second quarter with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Hurts to Jerry Jeudy. Auburn then took the lead on the final play of the half as Daniel Carlson hit a 33-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 10-7.
The Crimson Tide started the second half with its most impressive drive, a ground-oriented march capped by a 21-yard Bo Scarbrough run. That gave Alabama a 14-10 lead, but the Crimson Tide couldn’t score again in the final 28 minutes. Instead, Alabama was plagued by penalties and poor execution, including a botched field goal attempt and a pair of premature snaps that short-circuited Alabama’s last legitimate scoring opportunity.
In the meantime, Auburn continued to move the ball efficiently, adding a Carlson field goal and touchdown runs by Johnson — who rushed for 104 yards on 30 carries — and another by quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
The final 12-point deficit was Alabama’s first double-digit loss since it fell to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl following the 2013 season.
Hurts threw for 177 yards, completing 13 of 23 passes, and rushed for another 80, but was harried all evening by the AU defense.
Stidham, the transfer from Baylor, completed 21 of 28 passes for 237 yards for AU.
“It’s not just big now, but big for the future,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said, echoing back to AU’s last win over Alabama. “I think our program is more stable now than it was in 2013.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.