The much better team won by a very big margin in the 85th Iron Bowl. Even though legendary Alabama head coach Nick Saban was unable to be on the sidelines due to COVID-19 protocols, the Crimson Tide dominated the Tigers in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Both teams got off to a slow start as the defenses forced punts from the opposing offenses.
However, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones found superstar wide receiver Devonta Smith behind the Auburn defense for a 66-yard touchdown with five minutes left in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead and the Crimson Tide never looked back.
The Auburn offense was unable to get much of anything going against the Crimson Tide defense and the Alabama offense ran roughshod over the Tigers defense for the entirety of the matchup. Auburn spent the whole day searching for answers that Alabama clearly had.
Take a look at three things that led to Alabama blowing out Auburn 42-13.
Mac vs. Bo
The quarterbacks were never on the field at the same time and certainly didn’t directly compete against one another, but Alabama’s Mac Jones and Auburn’s Bo Nix had wildly different experiences today. Mac Jones was able to continue his stellar play in this 2020 season, completing 18 of 26 passes for 302 yards and five touchdowns. Clearly it helps that Jones is surrounded by outstanding talent, but he delivered very accurate passes all over the field against the Tigers defense. It was yet another spectacular performance by Mac Jones.
On the other side of the field, Auburn’s Bo Nix struggled mightily once again on the road. Outside the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium, Nix has been unable to get comfortable, and that continued in Tuscaloosa against the Crimson Tide tonight. Nix had multiple turnovers, few big plays and was unable to lead the offense into the endzone until late in the fourth quarter when the outcome of the game had already been decided. Nix did deliver one beautiful, deep ball that should have been a touchdown (was dropped), but that was the only real big-play that Auburn threatened on the day.
Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith was the most dominant player on the field during the 2020 Iron Bowl. Alabama has a roster full of future NFL players, but Smith stood out above them all today. Devonta Smith did damage catching screen passes, slants and deep balls. Smith put on a clinic that NFL scouts are sure to love. Auburn was unable to account for Smith even when attempting to double team him.
The Crimson Tide have stand outs at every position group (including other wide receivers), but Devonta Smith may be the player who gets picked by the NFL the earliest, and he showed why in his seven catch, 171-yard performance against Auburn.
Bama’s defense delivers
The Crimson Tide offense understandably gets most of the headlines, but the Alabama defense continued an impressive streak of holding opponents without a touchdown for the third game in a row until Auburn scored in garbage time with Alabama leading 42-6.
The Alabama defense didn’t allow Auburn to have success running the ball until the final five minutes of the game when the result was nowhere near in doubt. Even including those final two drives, Auburn was still held to a paltry 2.9 yards per carry for the contest.
Crimson Tide defenders also managed to intercept two of Bo Nix’s passes, allowed no passing touchdowns and generally just frustrated the Tigers’ quarterback. There were very few easy passes for Nix to complete and the Bama defense dodged the one dangerous bullet when Auburn’s Seth Williams dropped a would-be touchdown pass while behind the Crimson Tide defenders. T
The Crimson Tide defense held up its end of the bargain against the Tigers and helped secure an easy victory for Alabama.
Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @z_m_shaw