29 November 2008
Alabama finished a November that was a dramatic break from Novembers of the recent past in style Saturday night with a crushing 36-0 shellacking of rival Auburn before a joyous Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd of over 92,000. The Tide's defense was too much for Auburn's anemic offense, and staked the Bama offense to the opportunity to wear Auburn down with first-half body work and then finish the beaten Tigers off with second-half knockout blows.
It took the Tide offense a while to get unwound, but eventually it did so behind 144 yards rushing from Glen Coffee and long touchdown passes from both John Parker Wilson and Greg McElroy. The time it would take the Auburn offense to get unwound against the Tide is yet unknown, but obviously longer than 60 minutes.
Auburn showed faint signs of life early on, putting together two first downs in their first drive, stopping Bama on a three-and-out on the home team's first possession, and then pinning the Tide on its own 4-yard-line with a 40-yard Clinton Durst punt with 7:36 remaining in the first quarter. But Alabama used up that 7:36 on a 15-yard drive culminating in a period-ending 37-yard Leigh Tiffin field goal, and an early 3-0 lead has seldom looked so insurmountable.
Alabama would score more emphatically less than three minutes later, on a 41-yard Glen Coffee TD run after another Tide defensive stop. The Plainsmen managed to stay within shouting range for the rest of the half and late in the half broke into scoring territory for the only time in the game, only to have what was left of its back broken as the half ended. First Auburn field goal kicker Morgan Hull drilled a 40-yarder to seemingly put the Tigers on the scoreboard, only to have the play waved off due to a last-second time out by Nick Saban. Then, following a low and imperfectly-handled snap, Bama's Bobby Greenwood stuck a hand up to block Hull's low second try, and the visitors trudged to their dressing rooms without points or much hope.
The second half would be all Alabama. Auburn fumbled twice and never reached the Bama 35 while Alabama kept its ground game going and twice struck paydirt on deep touchdown passes from John Parker Wilson and Greg McElroy to, respectively, Nikita Stover from 40 yards and Marquis Maze from 32 yards. Alabama removed its offensive starters mid-way through the fourth quarter.
For the game, Alabama racked up 21 first downs to Auburn's 8, and out-gained the Tigers 412-170, including 234-57 on the ground. In addition to Coffee's 144 yards rushing, Mark Ingram kicked in 64 yards and a pair of scores, and Wilson threw for 134 yards and one TD on 8-16 passing. Brandon Fanney led the defense with 8 tackles, while Rashad Johnson added 5 tackles, a pass break-up, and one of the Tide's 3 fumble recoveries. Alabama did not turn the ball over and committed only one penalty.
With the win, Alabama broke Auburn's six-game winning streak against its in-state rival, and beat Auburn in Tuscaloosa for the first time ever. The victory also knocked Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville off the top spot for best ever Iron Bowl winning percentage among head coaches with three or more Iron Bowls. Tuberville's 3rd Iron Bowl loss dropped him back to a .700 winning percentage, well behind Paul "Bear" Bryant's .760 mark built on a record of 19 wins and 6 losses to his chief rival.