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Mac Jones, No. 1 Alabama Remain Undefeated with Iron Bowl Win vs. No. 22 Auburn

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2020

FILE- In this Jan. 1, 2020, file photo, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws a pass during the second half of the Citrus Bowl NCAA college football game against Michigan in Orlando, Fla. Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and Auburn's Bo Nix have taken different paths to their starting jobs. Now, they'll lead their teams into the Iron Bowl for the second straight year. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
John Raoux/Associated Press

Alabama continues to roll.

The top-ranked team in the country handled the rival Auburn Tigers 42-13 in the latest edition of the Iron Bowl at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith, John Metchie III and Najee Harris led the way for the Crimson Tide, who are 8-0 and well on their way to a College Football Playoff appearance. Alabama was without head coach Nick Saban after he tested positive for COVID-19.

No. 22 Auburn fell to 5-3 as its three-game winning streak ended.

         

Notable Player Stats

  • Mac Jones, QB, ALA: 18-of-26 for 302 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs
  • Najee Harris: RB, ALA: 11 carries for 96 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches for 34 yards
  • DeVonta Smith, WR, ALA: 7 catches for 171 yards, 2 TDs
  • John Metchie III, WR, ALA: 6 catches for 55 yards, 2 TDs
  • Bo Nix, QB, AUB: 23-of-38 for 227 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs

       

Mac Jones Makes Heisman Push in Head-Turning Showing

The Heisman Trophy is there for the taking for Jones.

After all, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence already missed multiple games because of COVID-19, and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields will play a maximum of six games before the Big Ten Championship after the Buckeyes' contest with Illinois was canceled.

There is still Florida quarterback Kyle Trask to deal with, but Jones wasted no time making a statement on a national stage Saturday with touchdown passes to Smith, Metchie and Jahleel Billingsley in the first half.

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The one to Smith started the scoring after he streaked past Auburn's secondary and was wide open, while the ones to Metchie and Billingsley were perfectly dropped over the secondary to open up a commanding lead.

It was more of the same in the second half, as Smith took a short slant and broke free for a 58-yard score before Harris all but ended the game with a 39-yard touchdown run. Jones mixed in another touchdown strike to Metchie just for good measure.

Frankly, Alabama's collection of weapons is borderline unfair. Auburn didn't devote enough attention to Smith early, and he used his speed to torch the secondary for multiple scores. Of course, if a secondary shades further away from the line of scrimmage and toward Smith, it opens up lanes for Harris to steamroll his way into the end zone.

The Crimson Tide will surely face more difficult challenges in the SEC title game and perhaps College Football Playoff than an overmatched Auburn team, but they looked like an absolute offensive juggernaut that is rounding into form with a championship in sight.

            

Alabama's Defense Overwhelms Bo Nix, Auburn

While Jones and the litany of Alabama playmakers generate many of the headlines for the Crimson Tide, Auburn's best chance in this game came on the other side.

Alabama's defense has been stellar of late and allowed a combined three points in wins over Mississippi State and Kentucky, but it also looked quite vulnerable when it gave up 48 points in an October win over Ole Miss.

Whether Bo Nix could do what Matt Corral did in that one and carve up Alabama's secondary figured to determine if this would be a close game or a blowout, and things could not have started much worse for the Tigers.

Seth Williams dropped what should have been a walk-in touchdown to keep Auburn within striking distance in the final minute of the first half, and Nix fittingly threw an interception to Malachi Moore four plays later as the game slipped further away for the visitors.

That sequence represented the Tigers' final realistic chance, as the second half was defined by Nix under constant pressure, an interception to Brian Branch, a stagnant rushing attack and once-promising drives stalling into Anders Carlson field-goal attempts.

The Alabama defense that was completely overwhelmed by Ole Miss was nowhere to be found, which is a terrifying proposition for the rest of the country.

If the Crimson Tide's defense continues to play like it did in Saturday's dominant showing with Jones and Co. lighting up the scoreboard on the other side, everyone else in the country is playing for second place.

         

What's Next?

Auburn hosts No. 5 Texas A&M next Saturday, while Alabama visits LSU.

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