Top 25: No. 1 Alabama 36, Auburn 0
Associated PressTUSCALOOSA, Ala. ó Nick Saban has Alabama on top again.
The national rankings and SEC West? That’s old news.
Already No. 1 in the nation, Alabama emphatically reclaimed the premier spot in the state by overwhelming bitter rival Auburn 36-0 on Saturday to end a six-year Iron Bowl losing streak and fashion the biggest margin in the series in 46 years.
This is what it feels like to beat the Tigers, ‘Bama. Even the normally stoic Saban promised he was celebrating inside ó and in the privacy of the locker room with players and wife Terry.
“I’m happy, I really am happy,” said Saban, smiling to prove it. “I was happy and dancing in the locker room. Miss Terry gave me a big kiss coming up here. I was real happy about that.”
The dominant win set the stage for Alabama (12-0, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) to face No. 2 Florida in the league championship game with a berth in the BCS national title game on the line.
Of more immediate concern for Tide fans, the state belongs to them again. And there was little question of that by the middle of the third quarter when a 10-0 game turned ugly ó or beautiful, depending on the perspective.
“Our seniors didn’t want to leave without beating Auburn,” quarterback John Parker Wilson said. “We don’t have to hear about it anymore. We beat them good. We left no doubt. It’s a good way to finish them off.”
The loss left Auburn (5-7, 2-6) shut out of a bowl game for the first time in nine years and cast another shadow on the decade-long tenure of coach Tommy Tuberville. Auburn, which had been 7-2 under Tuberville in the rivalry, has lost six of its last seven games after starting the season ranked in the top 10.
“Well, all good streaks come to an end, and it came to a screeching halt,” said Tuberville, who is expected to meet with university President Jay Gogue early next week. “It was a tough night for us.”
Tuberville expressed confidence he could get the program back on track while accepting the blame for an aborted attempt to switch to a spread offense.
“I’m committed to getting this thing turned around,” he said. “I have total confidence we can get this thing turned around.”
Saban’s already managed that feat for ‘Bama, which will play for the SEC championship for the first time since 1999.
The Tide scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to let the fans start the celebration early and complete its first perfect regular season since 1994.
Auburn had been 6-0 in Tuscaloosa and allowed only 35 points in those games. Yet another streak crushed into oblivion with the one-sided performance. It was the most lopsided Iron bowl since Bear Bryant’s 1962 group won 38-0.
The game was also ‘Bama’s first Iron Bowl shutout since a 17-0 win during the 1992 national championship season. None of the Tigers’ six straight wins had been decided by more than 10 points and the collective margin was 47 points.
It was the kind of result the Tide was looking for upon hiring Saban two years ago: Somebody to wrest control of the state from Auburn and put the Tide back in the national title hunt.
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