3 Takeaways from Alabama's Week 13 Win
Nick Saban may not have been on Alabama's sideline Saturday, but that didn't stop the Crimson Tide from getting some Iron Bowl revenge without their head coach. After losing to Auburn last season, Alabama rolled to a 42-13 win at Bryant-Denny Stadium to improve to 8-0 and continue its push toward the SEC Championship Game.
Without Saban, who missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19, the Crimson Tide still built an 18-point lead by halftime and amassed 445 total yards of offense. Alabama has won all its games by at least 17 points, and it has scored at least 41 points in all but its season opener (when it beat Missouri 38-19).
The Crimson Tide are the only undefeated team in the SEC, and they are likely going to be facing Florida for the SEC title Dec. 19. They are also likely to be heading to the College Football Playoff, as they are ranked No. 1 in the CFP rankings.
Here are three takeaways from Alabama's win Saturday.
Jones Keeps Strengthening Case for Heisman
Alabama redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones is among the top contenders to win the Heisman Trophy, and he had one of his best showings yet against Auburn. Jones went 18-of-26 for 302 yards and a career-high five touchdowns, helping the Crimson Tide build a big early lead against the Tigers.
During Alabama's 8-0 start, Jones has passed for 2,728 yards, 23 touchdowns and three interceptions. His 230.3 passer rating against Auburn was his second-best of the season, and it was the fifth time he passed for more than 300 yards this year.
Jones keeps excelling while leading a dominant Crimson Tide offense, but Saban (who watched Saturday's game from home) remains focused on constant improvement.
"I thought Mac played really, really well," Saban said, per AL.com's Mike Rodak. "I'm sure that when we look at the film, everybody will see some things they could have done better, and that's what we want to focus on moving forward—what we have to do to improve. He certainly made the plays he needed to make today."
If Jones performs even better, he could edge Florida quarterback Kyle Trask to become the first quarterback in Alabama history to win the Heisman.
Yet Another Huge Week for Smith
In Week 12, Alabama senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith set the SEC record for career receiving touchdowns, notching his 32nd and 33rd career scoring grabs in a win over Kentucky. On Saturday, Smith added to his record, scoring two more touchdowns to push his career total to 35.
It's not a surprise when Smith has a big game, and he had another against the Tigers. He had seven receptions for 171 yards, scoring on a 66-yard pass in the first quarter and a 58-yard pass in the third. It was the fifth time in the past six games that Smith had at least 144 receiving yards.
When Smith's time at Alabama is over, he's not only going to go down as one of the best wide receivers in program history, but he will be one of its greatest players of all time. And he's likely going to keep extending his SEC record the rest of the season, putting more distance between himself and former Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, who had 31 career touchdown receptions.
The Crimson Tide are soon going to be facing tougher competition, but it's unlikely that will slow Smith. In fact, he could be a big reason why this ends up being a special season for Alabama.
Defense Continues Stingy Run Against SEC Foes
Alabama's defense had a big day against Auburn. The Crimson Tide forced a pair of turnovers (interceptions by freshmen defensive backs Brian Branch and Malachi Moore) and held the Tigers to 347 total yards. Auburn's only touchdown was a 1-yard run by sophomore quarterback Bo Nix with 4 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the game.
Going back to the second half of its game against Georgia on Oct. 17, Alabama has given up only 33 points in its past 18 quarters. During that stretch, the Crimson Tide had a shutout win over Mississippi State on Oct. 31 and held Kentucky to three points Nov. 21.
"I think that our entire defense has kind of improved and gelled together as a unit," Saban said, per Joey Blackwell of Bama Central. "All 11 guys playing better—I think we play a little better in the back end than what we were playing in the beginning. We got a little better pass rush, I think we're using more players now which I think enhances everybody's opportunities to have a role and be able to go out there and contribute."
Alabama's defense is going to have some tough challenges ahead, such as a potential matchup against Florida in the SEC Championship Game. But if the Crimson Tide maintain the momentum from their recent performances, they should continue to produce positive results.