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Rue's Rant on College Sports in Alabama


November 29, 2009 4:02 PM

Iron Bowl leftovers mighty tasty for Tide

Upchurch vs. Auburn.jpg

Alabama's Roy Upchurch (5) reacts after scoring on a 4-yard pass from quarterback Greg McElroy late in the fourth quarter to lift the Crimson Tide to a 26-21 victory against Auburn Friday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Excuse me while I finish off some holiday leftovers from the Iron Bowl ...

 

  • Alabama's thrilling rally from an early 14-point deficit to defeat arch-rival Auburn 26-21 on Friday bodes well for the No. 2 Crimson Tide (12-0) heading into the Southeastern Conference Championship Game against the No. 1 Florida Gators (12-0) Saturday at the Georgia Dome. For most of this season, Alabama had gotten early leads and then let its dominating defense and powerful running attack control the flow of the game, but after Auburn jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Tide had to rely on a more balanced attack to come back. They did that and more, demonstrating plenty of character in the process, even after Auburn had taken a 21-14 lead in the third quarter.
  • A few weeks ago, I wrote that junior quarterback Greg McElroy held the key to Alabama's national championship hopes. Against Auburn, he showed he was up to the task. He completed 21-of-31 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns, and engineered a game-winning 15-play, 79-yard scoring drive by completing 6-of-7 passes for 63 yards and converting three first downs with completions. His 4-yard touchdown toss to Roy Upchurch with 1:24 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Tide the victory. McElroy will be asked to deliver again against the Gators.
  • Alabama sophomore running back Mark Ingram can forget about winning the Heisman Trophy. Auburn decided it wouldn't let Ingram beat them and held him to only 30 yards rushing on 16 carries before he left on the Tide's game-winning touchdown drive with a hip-pointer. Ingram is expected to play against Florida and he still should get an invitation to the Heisman awards ceremony, but Alabama's trophy case will still be minus the coveted Heisman.

  • The Tide's celebrated defense showed it can take some hits and still come up big when it matters. Auburn threw just about every play in its playbook at the Tide to score touchdowns on its first two possessions, but after that Alabama's defense put a chokehold on the Tigers' offense. Auburn did manage one more big play -- Chris Todd's 72-yard touchdown pass to Darvin Adams early in the third quarter - but the Tigers' never seriously threatened again. Even their desperation pass into the end zone on the final play of the game didn't come close to being completed as Tide safety Justin Woodall and linebacker Rolando McClain batted it down.
  • Auburn (7-5) showed it could be on the verge of becoming a factor in the SEC West again. Despite losing five of their final seven games, the Tigers displayed marked improvement in Gene Chizik's first season as head coach. If Auburn can develop some depth, get a dynamic quarterback and have a great recruiting class - indications are it's headed in that direction - it might not be long before the Tigers are challenging Alabama and LSU for supremacy in the division.
  • Alabama has put together consecutive 12-0 regular seasons for the first time in its storied program's history. Now let's see if this Tide team can tie the school record of 13, set by the 1992 national championship team. All they have to do is beat Florida Saturday. And should they do that, they can break the record with a win in BCS Championship Game. I'll save my thoughts on that likely scenario for another day - real soon.  

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