No. 1 Alabama visited sixth-ranked Auburn on Saturday with a berth in the SEC Championship Game on the line. Here is how UA answered some key questions:
1. How will Alabama handle Auburn’s balanced offense?
Auburn kept Alabama’s defense on its heels for a good portion of the game. The Tigers gained 408 total yards, the most UA has given up in a game this season. Auburn passed for 240 yards and gained 168 yards on the ground, mixing things up with 29 passes and 49 running plays. Alabama got a few key stops, but not enough.
2. Can the Crimson Tide run on Auburn’s defense?
Alabama’s best drive, a long touchdown march to start the second half, saw big runs by Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, but the running backs didn’t get a lot of opportunities. Harris, Scarbrough and Josh Jacobs got only six carries apiece, with quarterback Jalen Hurts leading a 209-yard ground attack with 80 yards on 17 attempts. UA averaged 5.6 yards per run, but didn’t stick with it.
3. Which team will win the turnover battle?
This came out even. Alabama lost a fumbled snap late in the first quarter to give Auburn possession at the UA 44-yard line, and the Tigers marched all the way to the Alabama 4 before handing the ball back with their own fumbled snap. Neither quarterback threw an interception, and while UA had two more fumbles, it recovered both.
4. Who will be the playmaker who comes through for his team?
Auburn got a big game from quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who completed 21 of 28 pass attempts for 237 yards and ran for 51 yards and a touchdown, but running back Kerryon Johnson was able to grind out 104 yards on 30 carries with a touchdown. He also completed a jump pass for another score.