TUSCALOOSA, ALA. - 318 rushing yards. Two players rushed for more than 100 yards again. Auburn had one of their best rushing performances in Iron Bowl history. It was not enough to get past the Crimson Tide.
"I told them guys they were going to have to be special. Auburn interim head coach Cadillac Williams said about Auburn's running backs. "I sat them down and said, y'all are going to have to be that spark. To whom much is given, much is required, and the good lord has blessed them tremendously."
The Auburn Tigers (5-7, 2-6 SEC) fell 49-27 to the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-2, 6-2 SEC) in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa this afternoon.
Auburn got the scoring started, as its second drive covered 80 yards in six plays and was capped off by a 24-yard touchdown run by quarterback Robby Ashford.
Alabama answered right back with a five-play, 62-yard drive that was sealed with a five-yard touchdown run by quarterback Bryce Young. Auburn was never able to reclaim the lead.
Young was a crucial piece of the Crimson Tide's success in this one, going 20-30 for 343 yards and three touchdowns. He had no shortage of options to throw to, as nine Alabama receivers caught a pass, three of them catching for more than 50 yards. Jermaine Burton led the way, catching three passes for 87 yards.
The ground attack was by far the biggest strength for the Tigers in this one. Jarquez Hunter ran for 134 yards off of 11 carries. Ashford ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns off of 17 carries. Tank Bigsby ran for 63 yards off of 15 carries.
"I pray to God that my two boys got his type attitude, his work ethic," Williams said about Hunter. "That young man is special. And I'm not just talking about on the field, by the way, he treats people and the way he goes about his business."
Auburn was not able to establish an air attack. Ashford went 11-23 for 77 yards and one touchdown. Shedrick Jackson was Auburn's leading receiver, catching two passes for 26 yards.
Cadillac Williams made history, being the first African-American to ever be a head coach in the Iron Bowl.
"I always wanted to play in this game. I dreamed about it, visualized it, spoke it into existence." Williams said. "Auburn and Alabama have been playing since 1893. I shared that with my players last night, to be the first African-American to coach, to be a head coach in this game, it almost broke me down last night."
Things started to look up for the Tigers when Williams was named interim head coach. Ashford had some things to say about the impact that Williams had on the team.
"What Coach 'Lac has brought to this program is just what we needed," Ashford said. "We were in a dead spot. I'll tell anybody: I'll go to war for Coach 'Lac any day. I love him to death. Just the confidence he instilled in me when I was down, it just helped me more than he ever knows. I'm forever thankful for Coach 'Lac and just so proud of this team for overcoming adversity. No, this wasn't the season we wanted to have, but I wouldn't go to war with any other guys. Like I'll tell anybody, this is the best decision I've ever made in my life, coming to Auburn. Coach 'Lac, he's great. He's one of the best. I love him to death."
This likely will be the last game that Williams will be the head coach for, but he has taken advantage of the opportunity.
"Regardless of what goes on, I have been blessed by Auburn," Williams said. "I have been blessed by the Auburn Family, these players, this staff. So, the future is bright regardless of what goes on.
This was the last game of the 2022 season as Auburn did not qualify for the postseason.