Alabama shook off a sluggish first half and rival Auburn on Saturday, scoring a 52-21 victory to close the regular season undefeated.
Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was 25-of-32 passing for 324 yards, with five passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown, advancing his Heisman Trophy campaign in the process.
Next up for Alabama (12-0, 8-0 SEC) is Georgia (11-1, 7-1) on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the SEC Championship game.
The Tide broke open the game at the start of the second half, scoring twice in a three-minute span to expand a 17-14 halftime lead to 31-14 over the Tigers (7-5, 3-5).
Biletnikoff Award finalist Jerry Jeudy was on the receiving end of a perfectly arched Tagovailoa 46-yard TD pass to start the second-half onslaught.
Moments later, tailback Josh Jacobs reached over his shoulder for another Tagovailoa pass, sprinting into the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown that made the score 31-14.
Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham (13-of-30 passing, one touchdown, one interception) provided some resistance, finding Darius Slayton deep with a 52-yard pass to cut the margin to 31-21 with 3:31 left in the third quarter.
The Alabama offense needed only three plays for Tagovailoa to strike again.
Tagovailoa hit DeVonte Smith over the middle and Smith did the rest, putting a move on Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene to polish off the 40-yard touchdown play and make the score 38-21.
The Tide went up 45-21 on Tagovailoa’s fifth and final touchdown pass, a 22-yarder to Henry Ruggs. The sophomore quarterback from Hawaii was 11-of-12 passing for 208 yards and four touchdowns in the second half alone before he was replaced by 2016 SEC Offensive Player of the Year Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter.
Hurts took a bite out of Auburn, too, completing a 53-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle to run the score to 52-21.
The Tigers kept the score close through the first two quarters, while holding the Tide to a season-low 186 yards of first-half yardage. Auburn’s special teams set up some play trickery that cut the margin before halftime.
The Tigers blocked a punt and two plays later scored on a double-pass, Stidham lateraling into the flats to Ryan Davis, who in turn pivoted and passed to a wide-open Malik Miller for a 23-yard touchdown.
Tagovailoa opened his highlight package in the first quarter. Facing a third-and-5 at the Alabama 40, Tagovailoa eluded two pass rushers and sprinted up field, leaving defenders sprawling on a 21-yard gain.
Five plays later, Tagovailoa hit Ruggs with a 4-yard touchdown pass that put the Tide on top 14-7.
Tagovailoa opened the game’s scoring on the second series, scooting seven yards around left end.
Auburn tied the score at 7-7 when Anthony Schwartz came in motion and took a jet-sweep handoff, turning the corner and beating the Alabama defense to the corner of the end zone.
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