Tide executed when it mattered the most
There’s one simple stat that tells the story of Alabama’s 55–44 Iron Bowl victory. And at first glance, it appears that Auburn did quite well executing its offense in the red zone. After, all the Tigers scored on seven of their eight trips inside the Alabama 20-yard line. But five of those seven scores ended in field goals, including four of fewer than 25 yards. Auburn had seven possessions that went 60 yards or more — an amazing feat against the Alabama defense — but only two of those seven ended with a touchdown.
“I think the name of the game really was that when we got in the red zone, we had to kick field goals,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We kicked five of them and didn’t score our touchdowns. We had enough yards to score a whole bunch of points and that was probably the name of the game.”
Alabama, on the other hand, converted its opportunities into touchdowns, finding the end zone on all five of its trips into the red zone.
The Tide was especially efficient in the second half; after Alabama’s first drive of the third quarter ended with a Blake Sims interception — his third of the game — it proceeded to score a touchdown on its final five possessions of the game. A 36–27 deficit gradually turned into a 55–36 lead.
“We started making some plays on offense can got the momentum of the game back,” coach Nick Saban said.
Alabama’s outstanding execution in the second half resulted in some gaudy final stats. Despite running only 61 plays — the second-fewest of the season — the Tide accumulated 539 yards of offense and averaged 8.84 yards per play, the most against an SEC opponent since they went for 9.1 in a 52–7 win at Ole Miss in 2011.