1. 58 points in the first half: Of the 93 points scored Saturday afternoon, in Auburn's 48-45 win over arch-nemesis Alabama, 58 points came in the first half.
Unexpected much? Uh, yes.
For a fully healthy Alabama offense, OK, scoring 31 in the first half of any game is do-able. But they had no Tua Tagovailoa, and an unproven in big games Mac Jones at the helm. That about explains it.
No, one more thing, Alabama was facing an Auburn defense that was only giving up 16.2 points per game, as well.
On the flip side, the definition of Auburn's offense has been: stagnancy, a pinch of mediocrity with a dash of a little too late, otherwise known as starting too slow.
There was no change in this, expect when Auburn was able to cross the 50 and get into the red zone where they were 3-for-3 on the day. That's when the Tigers are most dangerous — scoring on 89% of their red zone attempts entering the night.
Outside of a couple Pick 6's, big field goal attempts and makes and a kick return for scores between the two teams, that sums up the scoring outburst.
Yea, it doesn't make much sense, but the following should help.
2. Tigers face Alabama's truest self once again: One of the major questions was not just could Auburn's front play the dominant style of football it has been playing all year, but would that same front led by Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson be able to fluster Mac Jones enough to keep the ball away from the dangerous group of receivers that Alabama wields?
And despite the increased production of Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris, stopping the run would be a more than likely prognosis for an Auburn defense that came into Saturday second in the SEC in rush defense.
Alabama had other plans. It opened the game with the run three out of the five plays they recorded, as they tried to establish an offense of years passed in the absence of Tua Tagovailoa. The Tide was determined to punch Auburn in the mouth early and eat away at its stout defensive front.
That was the formula that proved to work. It was only thing that seemed to work actually, as screen attempts, shots downfield negated by penalty and a little bit of trickery to get the ball in the hands of its wideouts stalled Alabama's passing game early on.
This encouraged them, however, to keep it simple and keep running the ball and by the end of the half Harris had 94 yards on 14 carries, and a touchdown score, while averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
Auburn's defense was surrendering 3.3 yards per carry entering the contest.
Not only was Kevin Steele's defense caught off guard by the success of Alabama's reversion to the mean, we all were.
3. Not quite halftime: If you are looking for an explanation of what this game was, look no further than what transpired before the half.
You know, the part where Boobee Whitlow goes 17-yards on a reception from Bo Nix as the final seconds of the first half tick away, and time looks to expire as he's tackled to the ground, and half of Alabama's team jogs off the field into the tunnel?
But hold on, because time may have not expired, and Auburn runs its field goal team on the field and the referees call for a review — a review that determined there was a single second left on the clock giving Auburn a chance to line up for a 52-yarder with a suspect kicker.
Alabama's defense sprints back onto the field and Anders Carlson, nails that 52-yard attempt, hitting the ball with more confidence than he has any ball all year as gets nailed by Trevon Diggs.
This kick was ultimately the difference in the final tally. To think it was a kick that could have never happened.
Rushing offense — B-: The more touches Boobee Whitlow gets the better off this offense is. Five carries midway through the third is an unacceptable number. Some how Whitlow was still able to crack the 100-yard mark.
Rushing defense — C: Alabama's Najee Harris had roughly 100 yards rushing at the half. Auburn's front surprisingly struggled to slow down the Tide rushing attack.
Passing offense — C: Looked better as the game progressed, but they still struggled to complete the ball vertically, consistently. Thus, Bo Nix's completion percentage suffers.
Passing defense — B: Was great at times, was exposed at times. Two interception returns for touchdowns bolstered this grade.
Special teams — C+: Too many big plays and chunk yardage given up by the kickoff team really sours this grade for the Tigers. But Anders Carlson's 52-yarder before half makes it a little better.
Coaching — C: This was department that was up and down much like the game. There were some good calls, there were some poor adjustments.
Overall — C+: Great game with up and down play, results in an overall grade that falls right in the middle.
— Andre Toran
No. 16 Auburn 48, No. 5 Alabama 45
BAMA—FG Bulovas 43, 8:27
AUB—Nix 7 run (Carlson kick), 2:07
BAMA—N.Harris 6 run (Bulovas kick), 10:16
AUB—FG Carlson 43, 7:04
AUB—Monday 29 interception return (Carlson kick), 5:36
BAMA—Waddle 98 kickoff return (Bulovas kick), 5:22
BAMA—Ruggs 3 pass from M.Jones (Bulovas kick), 4:12
AUB—Cannella 14 pass from Nix (Carlson kick), 1:06
BAMA—Waddle 58 pass from M.Jones (Bulovas kick), :33
AUB—FG Carlson 52, :00
AUB—FG Carlson 43, 7:04
AUB—Z.McClain 100 interception return (Carlson kick), 6:31
BAMA—Waddle 12 pass from M.Jones (Bulovas kick), 4:57
AUB—FG Carlson 44, :49
BAMA—Waddle 28 pass from M.Jones (Bulovas kick), 13:44
AUB—Shivers 11 run (S.Jackson pass from Nix), 8:08
Time of Possession;35:52;24:08
RUSHING—Alabama, N.Harris 27-146, M.Jones 8-32, Bolden 1-3, B.Robinson 2-(minus 1). Auburn, Whitlow 16-114, Nix 6-44, D.Williams 8-16, Shivers 1-11, Joiner 1-1, (Team) 2-(minus 5).
PASSING—Alabama, M.Jones 26-39-2-335. Auburn, Nix 15-30-0-173, (Team) 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Alabama, Ruggs 6-99, D.Smith 5-80, Jeudy 5-26, Waddle 4-98, N.Harris 4-26, B.Robinson 1-7, M.Jones 1-(minus 1). Auburn, Stove 4-31, S.Williams 3-66, Whitlow 2-29, Hill 2-7, Cannella 1-14, Schwartz 1-13, Hastings 1-11, Shivers 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Alabama, Bulovas 30.