TUSCALOOSA — With state bragging rights and Gene Chizik's job on the line, Auburn had every chance to upset No. 2 Alabama Saturday in Tuscaloosa.
And then came the kickoff.
The Tide scored six touchdowns by halftime, added one more in the third quarter and cruised to a 49-0 massacre to win the Iron Bowl and clinch the SEC West.
“I feel great about our seniors being able to close our their career here with a pretty memorable victory,” coach Nick Saban said. “This is a great rivalry game, and for our players to be able to win is always a big thing for our fans, our players and all of our supporters.”
With second-ranked Bama (11-1) sporting only one loss and Auburn (3-9) bumbling to nine, the state's hottest rivalry was seen as an epic mismatch long before either team took the field for its 77th rendition.
The Tide still somehow managed to exceed expectations, scoring on their first seven possessions, converting their first seven third-down attempts and keeping the Tigers from staging a single threat to put points on the board.
Even FCS Western Carolina appeared to be as much or more of a challenge for Alabama the week before than Auburn ever was on Saturday.
Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon started the scoring early with respective 2-yard touchdown runs in the first quarter before AJ McCarron took over the offensive reins, finding the end zone three times in the second quarter.
His first was a snazzy 37-yard strike to Amari Cooper one play after a 32-yard run from Lacy, while the next came on a 7-yard toss to a wide-open Kevin Norwood in the back of the end zone.
Cooper again reached paydirt less than a minute before the half, breaking loose from two defenders and scampering past the goal line on a 29-yard play.