By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Iron Bowl Review
Alabama utilized a monstrous second half to turn a 17-14 halftime lead into a 52-21 victory over Auburn in the Iron Bowl last week-end in Tuscaloosa. UA quarterback Tua Tagovailoa likely secured the Heisman Trophy with his performance as he completed 25-of-32 passes for 324 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for 26 yards and a touchdown.
After Alabama took a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the game, Auburn had an impressive 10-play, 73-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 9-yard touchdown run by freshman Anthony Schwartz. The Crimson Tide scored 10 straight points but a turnover gave Auburn a chance to get back in the game as the Tigers took over on the Alabama 23-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Gus Malzahn dialed up a trick play as receiver Ryan Davis threw a 23-yard pass to Malik Miller to close the gap to 17-14.
The Tide started the second half with two straight touchdown drives to extend the lead to 31-14, but the Tigers answered on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Stidham to Darius Slayton to cut the lead to 31-21. Alabama res-ponded with a three-play touchdown drive, however, and dominated the rest of the game.
Stidham completed 13-of-30 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while JaTarvious Whitlow rushed for 61 yards on 19 carries. Alabama’s running game wasn’t very effective but the Tide was dynamic in the passing game. Jalen Hurts completed one pass for 53 yards and a score. Jerry Jeudy caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Jaylen Waddle caught three passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.
Auburn dropped to 7-5 overall and 3-5 in SEC play. The Tigers will learn next Sunday where they will play in the bowl game. Meanwhile, Alabama improved to 12-0 overall and 8-0 in conference play and faces Georgia on Saturday, Dec. 1, in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
SEC football rankings
1. Alabama (12-0, 8-0)
2. Georgia (11-1, 7-1)
3. LSU (9-3, 5-3)
4. Florida (9-3, 5-3)
5. Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4)
6. Texas A&M (8-4, 5-3)
7. Auburn (7-5, 3-5)
8. Kentucky (9-3, 5-3)
9. Missouri (8-4, 4-4)
10. South Carolina (6-5, 4-4)
11. Vanderbilt (6-6, 3-5)
12. Tennessee (5-7, 2-6)
13. Ole Miss (5-7, 1-7)
14. Arkansas (2-10, 0-8)
SEC Championship Preview and Prediction
Week 12 record: 9-0 Season: 92-19
Game of the Week: Alabama vs. Georgia (+13.5). About 11 months ago, the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs met at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the national title game. With Alabama trailing 13-0 at halftime, Tua Tagovailoa entered the game and led the Tide to a 26-23 victory in overtime after he converted a second-and-26 pass to win the game.
Now the two teams meet again, and there’s a possibility both could reach the playoffs for the second straight season.
Alabama likely is in the playoff field regardless of Saturday’s outcome. The Tide have done more than enough to earn a spot in the field, and the committee likely recognizes that Alabama is one of the four best teams in the country even if the Tide is upset by Georgia. The Bulldogs have one loss at LSU from earlier this season but likely will make the playoffs if they beat Alabama on Saturday.
Both offenses are dynamic, so could be a much higher scoring game than the national title matchup. Alabama leads the SEC in scoring offense at 49 points per game, while Georgia scores 40 points per game. The Bulldogs aren’t as prolific defensively as they were a year ago, and the Alabama offense should have another big day on Saturday. Prediction: Alabama 45, Georgia 27.
Akron at South Carolina (-29). Earlier in the year, the Gamecocks had a game cancelled against Marshall due to bad weather. Mar-shall is making up that game against Virginia Tech, so South Carolina is hosting Akron on Saturday for the 12th game of the year. The Zips had a game cancelled against Nebraska, so they are wrapping up their sea-son in Columbia. South Carolina hasn’t lived up to expectations this year but can finish with a winning record at 7-5. Prediction: South Carolina 41, Akron 16.