CECIL HURT: No magic needed as Alabama football methodically mashes AU, 42-13
There are times when the Alabama-Auburn game lives up to the hype, with amazing plays and unexpected twists and, if the game is In the carnival funhouse atmosphere of Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn wins its fair share and then some.
There’s another side of the coin, though. Those are the games when the hammer meets the nail with blunt force and predictable results. No one has to send a search party into the hedges to find missing fans, no fines are imposed by the SEC for the field being stormed. The main excitement, such as it is, comes from guessing when the backup quarterback will go into the game.
When it is one of those games, Alabama wins.
The fans go home happy, a few snapshots of the scoreboard are taken and the Crimson Tide keeps climbing inevitably toward goals at higher altitudes. No one talks about it for the next decade.
Saturday was one of those games.
The final score was 42-13. The game was not “closer than the score indicated.” The margin was descriptive. The game, in Sabanese, was what it was. Auburn had no more chance of winning than it did of containing DeVonta Smith, perhaps not a Heisman winner but as deserving as any non-quarterback in America.
Auburn had one viable chance at a touchdown while the game was still a game, and it slipped through Seth Williams’ hands. When it missed such a chance, Auburn had little chance to generate another.
Bo Nix did not have his best effort. Running back Tank Bigsby might not have been at 100 percent. Allowed to tee off, the Alabama defense disrupted the Tigers all afternoon. If it wasn’t the defense’s best game, it was certainly the most disruptive.
Credit AU for a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that might as well have been listed as 100-yards plus as Nix narrowly avoided a safety as the drive started. By that point, though, Alabama probably wasn’t entirely upset at AU grinding out a six-minute march.
The sole unique feature on Saturday was the absence of Nick Saban, stuck at home while quarantining due to coronavirus. His physical presence wasn’t exactly needed. Alabama was the machine he has built, functioning smoothly even with someone else pushing the buttons.
His quarantine should be over in time for a return when UA plays in Baton Rouge next weekend. Will things be different? Probably not, although it might actually be a more emotional game than Saturday’s was.
The intriguing question that is starting to arise in the Alabama-Auburn cycle is this: why does Auburn look so overmatched one year, only to pull a rabbit, a rooster and the occasional rhinoceros out of its hat the next year? Various theories try to explain it. One is that Alabama recruits at such a dominant level that its talented roster rarely suffers any fluctuation. Auburn recruits well, but not at the elite national level every year, so maybe some blips are inevitable.
Another theory is that Auburn “cares more” because the game is “its whole season,” while Alabama aims for the College Football Playoff. If that is true, though, why doesn’t it show up more than 50 percent of the time? Does Alabama care more in those years?
Regardless, all signs point to Alabama steaming on course to a three-game postseason. Beating Florida in Atlanta will be a chore, but the Crimson Tide showed that it is more than willing to win efficiently if that’s what it takes.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt