Alabama’s Iron Bowl victory on Saturday will be remembered for Derrick Henry’s inhuman effort. But the Crimson Tide used big plays from every unit to put away rival Auburn, 29-13.
Let’s break down the victory:
Several stalled drives resulted in Adam Griffith field goals, and Jake Coker was back to his inconsistent ways. The fifth-year senior threw at least two passes that should have been intercepted, including one that likely would have been a pick six if the defender hadn’t dropped it.
So what saved the Alabama offense? Derrick Henry. The Tide bled plenty of clock in the second half thanks to a large chunk of Henry’s 46 carries and 271 yards. He carried the ball 14 straight times down the stretch, one off the ‘Bama record.
An Ole Miss-esque fluke touchdown was the only score the Tide gave up in the second half. The Tigers managed 29 yards on their final four drives, during which time Henry was able to pound them into submission on the other side of the ball.
Alabama’s staunch defensive performance came despite zero forced turnovers — a good sign that the Tide don’t need to rely on timely interceptions or fumble recoveries to win games.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
If Henry hadn’t broken out late, Griffith was the clear MVP. He drained five field goals, including a 50-yarder near the end of the first half. Without his kicks, the Tide likely would’ve been in major trouble on Saturday.
The junior was also rock solid on kickoffs, allowing just one return for 26 yards. Punter JK Scott racked up 145 yards on just three kicks, and Damien Harris atoned for a flubbed kickoff return attempt with a 30-yarder to begin the second half.
Head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart drew up another excellent gameplan to combat Auburn, while offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin found his groove in the second half by crafting a run-heavy attack that still managed to keep Auburn guessing.
Yes, the Crimson Tide were 14.5-point favorites, but any Iron Bowl win is a big one, especially away from home. Alabama did enough to convince the College Football Playoff committee they should have a chance at the No. 1 spot this week.