#22 Auburn fell for the fifth straight time in Tuscaloosa, losing 42-13 to #1-ranked Alabama.
Auburn's offensive woes returned in full force against Alabama. Promising drives fizzled as they went on, and each time Alabama came out on the field they looked poised to do damage. Mac Jones was surgical, completing 18 of his 26 passes for five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Bo Nix, on the other hand, struggled. The Tigers asked him to throw often, and he failed to connect with Seth Williams on multiple attempts that could've moved the chains and given Auburn some life. Late in the second quarter, Williams dropped a wide-open pass that would've resulted in a desperately-needed touchdown.
The Tigers never came that close to the end zone until the final minutes of the game. Nix finished 23-of-39 passing for 227 yards with two interceptions. Auburn's lone touchdown came from Nix's legs in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
"We didn't play our best," said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. He acknowledged that the Tigers could not score touchdowns when the field grew short, paving the way to a bitter loss.
The root of Auburn's struggles ultimately came from the lack of a running game. The Tigers routinely failed to generate yards on the ground, making it difficult to set up big plays through the air and wear down Alabama's defense. Tank Bigsby returned from injury, but could only gain 39 yards on 11 touches before being pulled for rest. Backup running back Mark-Antony Richards ended up leading the team in rushing with 56 yards on 13 fourth-quarter carries.
"We didn't run the ball very effectively," Malzahn said. Prior to Saturday, the Tigers had rushed for at least 200 yards in the last four games.
On defense, the story was much of the same. The Tide limited Auburn's opportunities and adjusted when they made mistakes. For the most part, Auburn's front seven performed well against the Alabama rushing attack, but the Crimson Tide offense hardly needed success on the ground to put up points. Auburn's defensive backs found themselves routinely burned by Alabama's stable of NFL-caliber wide receivers.
"They made a lot of plays today," said sophomore linebacker Owen Pappoe. When asked about Alabama's offensive scheme, he added, "Everything that we saw on film held up... we have to execute better."
Bo Nix stated he felt that it was Alabama's defensive play that won the game. He praised the work of offensive linemen thrown into the fire due to injured starters.
"You never want to lose, especially to your rival," Nix said, "I think it's important to get back to work tomorrow and get ready for Texas A&M."
Auburn returns to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, December 5th to host the #5-ranked Texas A&M Aggies.