NCF Nation: John Parker Wilson
When AJ McCarron steps behind center on Saturday night for Alabama's first offensive snap in its showdown against LSU, he'll be making his fourth start against the Tigers.
The senior has been the picture of stability the last three years as Alabama’s starting quarterback. His first start against LSU was Nov. 5, 2011, dubbed "The Game of the Century," one that LSU won 9-6 in overtime at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, McCarron's counterpart on Saturday night, will make his second start against the Tide. LSU hasn't quite enjoyed the same stability that Alabama has, though Mettenberger has provided a steady hand and productive play this season, making LSU's offense the talk of the program for once; hard to do in a program known for its defense.
That's simply a microcosm of these two power programs. Both are championship-caliber teams that are annually in the BCS national championship discussion. Both have stable coaching staffs and a foundation built on great defense and the ability to run the football. Both recruit at a high level and, of course, play in the same division, the SEC West.
But since the Nick Saban took over at Alabama in 2007, the Tide have had just three quarterbacks start against LSU: McCarron, Greg McElroy (2009-10) and John Parker Wilson, who predated Saban and started for the Tide from 2006-08.
In that same time span, the Tigers have had a different starter vs. Alabama six times. In 2007 it was Matt Flynn, who was a senior. Jarrett Lee started the 2008 game, while Jordan Jefferson started in 2009 and 2010. In 2011 Lee started the November "Game of the Century," and Jefferson started the BCS national championship later that season. Though the Tigers have had four different quarterbacks in that span, it's been rare that the same one has started twice in a row against the Tide like Mettenberger will do Saturday.
Despite that contrast, the series has been back-and-forth. Alabama has won four times since 2007, LSU three. The Tigers' success despite quarterback turnover is even more fascinating in an age where quarterbacks dominate the headlines and up-tempo spread offenses are en vogue.
Take last season as an example, one in which the Tigers didn't make a change at quarterback but didn't get strong play from the position either. Florida (3rd), Oregon State (13th) and Kent State (25th) were the only schools other than LSU with a Total QBR of less than 55 for the season to finish in the top 25 of the BCS standings at the end of the regular season. The team with the worst QBR of thos, LSU (38), finished eighth in the final BCS standings last season.
Even in 2011, when the Tigers went 13-1 and went to the BCS title game before falling to Alabama, the quarterback situation was far from stable. Lee made nine starts that season, Jefferson made five. There was even discussion in the aftermath of the 21-0 title game loss to the Crimson Tide about LSU coach Les Miles' decision to not play Lee at all that night and leave Jefferson in, which Miles later said was because he wanted a mobile quarterback who could avoid Alabama's tenacious pass rush in the game.
The reason the Tigers were able to succeed despite a sometimes uncertain quarterback situation is their defense. LSU finished in the top 12 nationally in total defense each season from 2010-2012 and had a 34-5 record in that time span. They've also had a reliable running game to turn to move the chains offensively.
Alabama has enjoyed the fruits of both of those traits during their run of three BCS titles in four seasons, but the stability at quarterback is evident. The Tide have finished the season with a better QBR than LSU each of the last five seasons.
Stable or not, life is tough for the quarterbacks in this game. During the Saban era, Alabama quarterbacks have a QBR of 42.8 against LSU, while LSU's is 33.1 against the Tide. The touchdown-to-interception ratios aren't pretty (8-to-6 for Alabama, 7-to-11 for LSU) as the defenses take center stage in this matchup.
But the Tigers have shown that even in this era of offensive dominance, good defense can still get you far. And now, they just might have the quarterback to knock off the nation’s top team.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions on Thursday placed Alabama's sports teams on three years' probation as a result of its student-athletes improperly obtaining approximately $40,000 worth of textbooks from the school's bookstore.
What does it mean for the Crimson Tide's football program, which is really the only sport that matters to most fans in Tuscaloosa?
Alabama will have to vacate as many as 21 victories from the 2005 through '07 seasons. The NCAA has asked Alabama officials to identify any games in which seven ineligible football players participated during the three-year period.
Five of the players have been identified -- offensive linemen Antoine Caldwell and Marlon Davis, running back Glen Coffee and defensive backs Marquis Johnson and Chris Rogers. The NCAA and Alabama have yet to identify the other two players who were ruled ineligible.
By my calculations, the Crimson Tide might have to vacate 10 victories from the 2005 season (at least one of the ineligible players competed in each of those games), six wins from 2006 and five victories from 2007. Alabama self-reported the violations in 2007 and suspended the aforementioned players. The Tide won't have to vacate their 41-7 victory over Tennessee in 2007 or their 30-24 win over Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl, because the ineligible players had already been suspended and reinstated before those contests were played.
What does it all really mean?
Well, remember that 9-0 start during the 2005 season, when the Crimson Tide climbed as high as No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and when former coach Mike Shula actually looked a little like daddy Don?
It never happened.
Remember Tyrone Prothro's amazing over-the-defender's-back catch against Southern Mississippi in 2005?
You might find it on YouTube, but you probably won't find it in Alabama's 2009 media guide. (I'm sure the home office in Bristol will allow Prothro to keep his ESPY.)
Remember former quarterback John Parker Wilson's 2-yard touchdown pass to fullback Le'Ron McClain, which beat Ole Miss, 26-23, in overtime in 2006?
McClain should have dropped it. In the eyes of the NCAA, it probably didn't happen.
The good news for Tide fans? Alabama won't have to vacate any Iron Bowl victories. The Crimson Tide weren't good enough to beat rival Auburn during the seasons in question.
With one fell swoop, the NCAA is attempting to wipe out three years of Alabama football history.
If only the NCAA would force Alabama to vacate that 21-14 loss to Louisiana-Monroe.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
A glance at what others are saying and writing about SEC football:
- Tim Tebow and Danny Wuerffel are both former Heisman Trophy winners at Florida, but they're bound by their Christian faith.
- Thanks to Charles Goldberg of The Birmingham News, here's some video of Bo Jackson's commencement speech at Auburn last Saturday.
- Tim Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has some leftovers from Georgia coach Mark Richt's speaking engagement in Columbus, Ga., last week.
- There were no real surprises on Arkansas' post-spring depth chart, Nate Allen of The Northwest Arkansas Times writes.
- Former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson is just hoping for a chance with the Atlanta Falcons.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
By now, we all know that the 2008 bowl season culminated with Florida knocking off Oklahoma to win its second BCS national championship in the last three years. The SEC finished 6-2 in bowl games. There were memorable moments along the way and a few forgettable ones, too. Here's a look at the SEC bowl version of the Best and Worst:
|Todd Kirkland/Icon SMI|
|Tim Tebow had the SEC's best performance bowl of the year in the BCS championship game.|
Best catch: The catch itself was spectacular, but it also came at a time when Ole Miss needed to make a statement. With the Rebels trailing 14-7 in the first half, senior receiver Mike Wallace split two Texas Tech defenders and somehow managed to bring in Jevan Snead's 41-yard pass with one of those defenders hanging onto him. Wallace juggled the ball in his right hand, then in his left hand and squeezed it as he rolled into the end zone for a touchdown.
Best defensive plan: Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong had an answer for everything Oklahoma tried to do in holding the Sooners to 40 points below their season average of 54. Granted, the Gators didn't stop the Sooners in their tracks, but they made all the key plays defensively. Most importantly, they were in position to make those plays -- and that's coaching. What more does Strong have to do to get a shot at a head coaching job?
Worst protection: Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson has never spent so much time running for his life or simply trying to throw from his back. He was sacked eight times by Utah in the Utes' 31-17 victory over the Crimson Tide in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Utes used a wide array of stunts and blitzes and feasted on the absence of Alabama left tackle Andre Smith. The eight sacks were half the total the Tide had allowed (16) in 13 previous games.
Best comeback: Kentucky looked dead and buried in the first half of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Wildcats trailed 16-3 at halftime, and it was one of those games where it appeared they could play for 20 quarters and still not score an offensive touchdown. But David Jones opened the second half with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and the Wildcats outscored the Pirates 22-3 in the second half to win their third straight bowl game.
Worst offense: How's this for irony? Vanderbilt wins its first bowl game in 53 years with a 16-14 victory over Boston College in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, but is the only one of the eight SEC teams in bowl games that doesn't score an offensive touchdown. That's right, the Commodores broke their bowl drought without finding the end zone offensively and finishing with just 200 yards of total offense. Talk about a clinic in opportunistic football.
Best defensive play: Florida sophomore defensive tackle Torrey Davis had made all of five tackles coming into the FedEx BCS National Championship Game and had found his share of trouble off the field. But his second-quarter tackle of Oklahoma's Chris Brown for a 2-yard loss on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1 was textbook. And not only that, but it kept the game tied 7-7 at the half and shifted the momentum into the Gators' favor.
Worst team performance: This was an easy call. South Carolina's 31-10 loss to Iowa in the Outback Bowl was the kind of performance that makes you scratch your head and say, 'Why even bother showing up?' Some would argue the Gamecocks didn't. They were down 31-0 before most of their alarm clocks had gone off, and the only semblance of a pulse came when Steve Spurrier had to break up an argument on the sideline.
Best run: The great part is that it didn't even come from an offensive player. Kentucky defensive tackle Ventrell Jenkins scooped up an East Carolina fumble in the fourth quarter and barreled 56 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. It's debatable what was better -- his mean stiff-arm of East Carolina quarterback Patrick Pinkney or the balance the 285-pound Jenkins showed to stay on his feet and score?
Best hit: It's the kind of hit that puts every offensive player on alert. Florida safety Major Wright timed it perfectly on a deep pass down the sideline, torpedoed over from his center field position and absolutely unloaded on Oklahoma receiver Manuel Johnson on the third play of the game. The hit occurred right in front of the Gators' sideline. The Florida players went crazy, and Johnson somehow wobbled to his feet and slowly jogged off. The tone had emphatically been set by Wright and the Florida defense.
|AP Photo/Alex Brandon|
|Alabama's John Parker Wilson is sacked by Utah linebacker Stevenson Sylvester in the first half of Saturday's 31-17 Sugar Bowl loss to the Utes.|
NEW ORLEANS -- For weeks Utah made it no secret that its top priority heading into the Allstate Sugar Bowl was stopping the run.
Coach Kyle Whittingham even laid out the gameplan of stacking the box with seven or eight players and making Alabama beat the Utes with the pass.
The Crimson Tide fell right into the Utes' trap.
"We knew they had a good run game that set up the play action," cornerback Sean Smith said. "The front seven did a great job of applying pressure and it took an average quarterback and it took him down another notch because he has to make a move or run when he's not really ready to let the ball go."
Alabama had 33 carries for 31 rushing yards and the bulk of those yards were lost on sacks. The Utes had eight sacks for 53 yards and most of the sacks came off run blitzes up the middle instead of the edges where Alabama was expecting the pressure.
The Crimson Tide came into the game ranked 21st in the country with just 17 sacks allowed and Wilson hadn't thrown two interceptions in a game all season.
Utah linebacker Stevenson Sylvester tied a BCS bowl record with three sacks and was one of five players that rolled past the Tide's meaty offensive line with pure speed.
"It was all hype," Sylvester said of Alabama's physicality. "We were a lot faster than they were and speed kills, that's what we preach over here. It was great. We just got back there on them and used our athleticism."
Wilson completed 18-of-30 passes 177 yards and two interceptions. He also had several passes that he threw up for grabs andx were dropped by the Utah secondary. He never looked comfortable in the pocket, which was exactly what the Utes hoped to accomplish. Alabama running backs Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram managed 62 rushing yards, but neither had a run longer than 13 yards.
Prior to this game, only Tulane had held Alabama for fewer than 100 yards (99).
The limited running game gave the Utah secondary free reign to focus on the receivers. The much-anticipated matchup between Alabama receiver Julio Jones and cornerback Smith was almost non-existent. Jones had seven catches for 77 yards, but 30 of those yards came on one catch when he found a seam in the Utes zone defense early in the game. Other than that play, Utah kept the Alabama receiving game quiet.
"Our front seven was amazing," said safety Robert Johnson, who had both of Wilson's interceptions. "They made it easier for the secondary to get back, get comfortable and make interceptions. We all knew that Alabama was power and the quarterback set up with most of his yards on play action. They had two receivers that were real good and the rest of the receivers don't really get the ball as much when you're looking at the stats. So it made it easier for us to make them one dimensional."
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Nick Saban prides himself on building teams that are physical, resilient and disciplined.
They were all the ingredients that made this season so special for Alabama.
They were also the ingredients that were nowhere to be found Friday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, as Alabama uncharacteristically melted in a season-ending 31-17 loss to Utah that will resonate all offseason in Tide Land.
It was supposed to be a feel-good offeseason with all the Crimson Tide accomplished this year.
The Tide (12-2) were outcoached and outplayed in their first venture onto the BCS stage in nine years. Saban admitted afterward that he didn't have his team ready to play.
And you can't help but wonder what Andre Smith is thinking right now.
His suspension because of improper dealings with an agent rocked this team in more ways than one, and it only got worse after Mike Johnson went out in the first half with an ankle injury. Johnson was the one who slid over to Smith's left tackle position after playing left guard all season.
Without Smith, Alabama's offense was anemic, and it's hard to call it a coincidence, either.
Smith, this season's Outland Trophy winner, didn't play in two games this season. The first one was against Tulane in the second week, and Alabama was held to 172 yards and one offensive touchdown in an ugly 20-6 win.
The second time was Friday night in the Superdome, and Alabama was held to 208 yards of total offense. The Utes feasted on the left side of the Crimson Tide offensive line and sacked John Parker Wilson eight times.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
A quick preview of Friday night's Allstate Sugar Bowl between Alabama (12-1) and Utah (12-0):
WHO TO WATCH: Freshman receiver Julio Jones has been the 'X' factor all season for the Alabama offense. When teams insisted on cramming the line of scrimmage with defenders to stop the Crimson Tide's running game, quarterback John Parker Wilson simply found Jones, who's next to impossible to cover one-on-one with his size, strength and speed. Jones may have to play an even bigger role now that the Alabama running game has taken a hit with the suspension of left tackle and Outland Trophy winner Andre Smith. Look for the Tide to go to Jones early to spread out that Utah defense.
WHAT TO WATCH: With Smith out of the lineup, the Crimson Tide will go with junior Mike Johnson at left tackle. Johnson is normally the left guard and a very good player. Obviously, though, he's not Andre Smith. The key spot is at left guard, where sophomore David Ross will move into the starting lineup. The last time Smith didn't play, the Crimson Tide finished with just 172 yards of total offense earlier this season against Tulane, their lowest output in eight years. Think the Utah defense will test out that revamped left side of the Alabama offensive line?
WHY TO WATCH: The Alabama seniors said it best leading up to this game. It's been a great season, but it all goes for naught if the Crimson Tide stumble now. Great teams find a way to fight back from disappointment, and they also find a way to overcome adversity. The loss to Florida in the SEC Championship Game was a bitter one, and losing Smith to a suspension was a shock. But lasting impressions are what count in college football, and the last thing Alabama wants to do is cap this magical ride with back-to-back losses.
NEW ORLEANS -- Utah coach Kyle Whittingham reiterated during Wednesday's press conference that his team would not change its defensive gameplan with Alabama All-American offensive lineman Andre Smith out of the lineup.
"Andre's absence does not change anything for us, we won't make any schematic changes," Whittingham said. "We are pretty confident it won't change any of [Alabama's] schematics either. It was a situation where that was never one of the battles. It's Alabama. We are sure they have several blue-chip guys right behind him. We understand they have very capable players that can replace him. We don't anticipate Alabama doing anything differently."
Earlier in the week, Whittingham expressed disappointment that Smith wasn't playing because he wanted his team to go against the best the Crimson Tide has to offer. Smith, the Outland Trophy winner and a projected top draft pick, is Alabama's biggest offensive lineman by about 25 pounds and he protects the back side of quarterback John Parker Wilson. Defensive end Paul Kruger, who was eager for the matchup, also was disappointed.
"It would have been a good matchup and I was really confident going in," Kruger said. "It would have been a great experience. We'll see who they throw in there. I'm sure they've got some awesome players to back him up."
Although nothing has formally been announced, Alabama likely will slide left guard Mike Johnson to tackle and allow second string left guard David Ross to start. It's the same formation the Crimson Tide used against Tulane when Smith was out with a leg injury earlier in the year. During that game, Alabama managed just 172 total yards in a 20-6 win. Two of its scores came off punt return touchdowns.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
It's been nine years since Alabama last walked among college football's elite in the BCS bowl bonanza.
Chances are it won't be another nine years or even another three or four years. Chances are the Crimson Tide are here to stay.
"This is where Alabama football is supposed to be," Alabama senior center Antoine Caldwell said. "This is where everybody associated with the program made a commitment to get it to, and the foundation is in place to keep it here."
|Marvin Gentry/US Presswire|
|John Parker Wilson hopes to finish his college career with a win in the Sugar Bowl.|
Alabama, which spent the month of November as the country's No. 1-ranked team, will do its best Friday night against Utah in the Allstate Sugar Bowl to put a cap on what's been a memorable season.
The suspension of star left offensive tackle Andre Smith on Monday was a downer, and so was the bitter 31-20 loss to Florida in the SEC championship game.
Still, this is the kind of season you build on, the kind of season that proclaims to the rest of the college football world that you're indeed back.
But there is one caveat, according to the Alabama players.
Winning this game is a must if the Crimson Tide are going to make that proclamation stick.
"We've had a great season up to this point, something we'll all remember," Alabama senior quarterback John Parker Wilson said. "But I think if we don't go out and win this game, it's going to be all for nothing. We're looking at this as a one-game season, that we're going to go out and take care of business and kind of put a cap on our legacy as seniors.
"It's a huge game. We're playing in the Sugar Bowl. We're putting a lot on this game."
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Checking in around the SEC to see what else is out there:
- Alabama seniors want to make sure they go out the right way with a win in the Sugar Bowl.
- Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is knocking on doors and establishing relationships with high school coaches in the state.
- South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman proposes that Gamecock Club dues be frozen in 2009 to help out fans during these tough economic times.
- Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford bring different quarterback styles to their battle in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game.
- Vanderbilt linebackers Patrick Benoist and Chris Marve have spearheaded the Commodores' defense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Not long after Alabama had put the finishing touches on a 36-0 battering of Auburn on Saturday night, somebody asked Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson about being the nation's No. 1 team and still being an underdog this coming Saturday in the SEC Championship Game.
Not that the Vegas line had come out by that time, but it's the assumption college football has made for the last several weeks.
Florida is the team to beat.
"It doesn't matter to us," Wilson said, his smile widening. "It's about the guys in the locker room. It's about our attitude. Underdog or favored, it's not going to affect the outcome of the game at all. The whole season, people have not expected us to do the things that we've done.
"We'll just keep taking it that way, and we've seemed to handle it pretty well."
Nobody on Alabama's team was coming right out and saying it, but you could tell they're reveling in the whole notion that Florida is a cut above.
Never mind that the Gators did lose to Ole Miss earlier this season and that the Crimson Tide have won 12 straight without stubbing their toe. It's hard to find anybody (at least outside the state of Alabama) who thinks Alabama is going to win what is essentially the SEC's own play-in game for the right to play for the national championship.
"They're a lot flashier than us," said Alabama's 365-pound nose tackle, Terrence Cody, who looked more like his old self Saturday after spraining his MCL against Ole Miss on Oct. 11. "We don't care about being flashy. We're just going to do what we've done all year to win games."
Senior center Antoine Caldwell has seen Florida on television several times this season. He's been impressed.
"They've got a lot of speed and they like to move around a lot," Caldwell said. "They're not awfully big guys, but are good at moving around and creating mismatches up front."
Auburn's Tommy Tuberville stopped short of picking a winner in Saturday's game, but he said Alabama was the best team the Tigers have faced this season.
Auburn senior center Jason Bosley, though, gives the nod to the Gators based on what he's seen on tape.
"Florida's been the most impressive team I've seen all year on film and everything they do," Bosley said. "If I had to make a prediction, I'd pick Florida. But you never know. They're playing with great confidence, Alabama is."
And great consistency, too.
In fact, the 36-point pummeling of the Tigers might have been the Tide's most complete performance of the season. They're like a vice-grip.
When they get a hold of you, there's no letting go. They've been tied or led in just under 756 of the last 780 minutes, and they've scored first in 12 of their last 13 games dating back to the end of last season.
"We've still got stuff we want to do," Wilson said. "We've had a good season. But if we don't finish it, it's not going to be what anybody wants."
What they want is a 13th national championship ring.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
|John Reed/US Presswire|
|The loss left Tommy Tuberville and Auburn shut out of a bowl game for the first time in nine years.|
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The disaster that was Auburn's football season this year was Tommy Tuberville's fault.
That comes straight from Tuberville's mouth Saturday following the biggest flop in a series of flops for the Tigers this season. This one was magnified even more, though.
This was Alabama, and 36-0 beatings at the hands of the Crimson Tide have a way of making life even more tenuous for the head football coach at Auburn, the same coach who's been under fire ever since his experiment with Tony Franklin and the spread offense blew up in his face.
Will Tuberville be back next season?
He says so, and his athletic director at Auburn, Jay Jacobs, is saying all the right things, too.
Still, there's a sense of uneasiness on the Plains, and senior center Jason Bosley said it's "ridiculous" that Tuberville's job security is even an issue, and he didn't stop there in an emotional Auburn interview room.
Bosley said those individuals who are trying to run Tuberville out of town after one bad year aren't true Auburn fans.
"I don't know where it comes from," Bosley said. "When you face adversity, the cream rises to the top and so do the turds. That's the way it is. People start pointing fingers, and it's easy to point fingers at the head coach. But it shouldn't even be a topic of discussion, in my opinion."
Bosley pointed out that the last time there was an attempted coup against Tuberville that he came back and went unbeaten the next season and won the SEC championship. That was 2004 following the secret trip by Auburn officials to meet with Bobby Petrino on prominent booster Bobby Lowder's private jet.
"That's just college football today," Bosley said. "You have one bad year, and everybody wants to fire the coach. People don't understand that you don't do that. You don't get rid of somebody who's done what he's done. It's ridiculous to even have that conversation.
"I don't know who it's coming from, our fans, boosters, whoever. I don't think true Auburn people feel that way. I think true Auburn people love Coach Tub and are going to stand by him. They're not Auburn people if they're behind those kind of things and saying those kind of things."
Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman admitted that he was shocked to hear that Tuberville's job could be in jeopardy, but added, "You never know. This is one big business. They got rid of Phillip Fulmer. But there's no doubt in my mind that he'll be back next year."
Tuberville said he's certainly committed to being back for his 11th season and getting Auburn back to competing for SEC championships.
He's supposed to meet with Jacobs next week and has already started the search for his new offensive coordinator. Tuberville acknowledged that he would also take a long look at his staff.
He repeated several times Saturday that he put his coaches in a terrible situation this season by trying to go to the spread.
"I have total confidence that we can get this thing turned around," Tuberville said. "It was my fault that we got it this way in terms of the offense."
Tuberville said his offensive assistants will take a lot of hits, but added, "The buck stops with me. I'm the one that put them in that situation."
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
|Doug Benc/Getty Images|
|Alabama's offensive line made things easy for quarterback John Parker Wilson in Saturday's 36-0 dismantling of Auburn.|
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- For an offensive lineman, there is no sweeter music.
Alabama senior center Antoine Caldwell could see it in the Auburn defenders' eyes and hear it in their voices to start the third quarter Saturday.
The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide were about to lower the boom, and the Tigers knew it.
And perhaps most importantly, there was nothing they could do about it.
"We started grinding on them," Caldwell said. "You kind of see them getting a little tired, and they got worn down. When a offensive lineman sees that, especially the offensive line we've got here at Alabama, that makes us go into that killer instinct mode.
"You want to put the pedal down, and that's what we did."
The Crimson Tide didn't just put the pedal down. They mashed it through the floorboard in a 36-0 dismantling of the Tigers that ended Auburn's six-game winning streak in this bitter rivalry.
The last time an Iron Bowl was this one-sided was 46 years ago when Alabama won 38-0 in Birmingham.
It had been a long time coming for the Alabama players.
"Too long. Those losses stick with you," Alabama senior safety Rashad Johnson. "But to go out against them like this is the way you want it."
The sweetest part is what's ahead.
Alabama (12-0, 8-0 SEC) can finally focus on Florida in the SEC Championship Game, a matchup that's been set for the last three weeks. The Tide players have heard plenty about the Gators the last few weeks and the path of destruction they've woven throughout the SEC.
They've heard about their speed, all their playmakers, how well they're playing.
It's a classic contrast in styles.
"They score a lot of points. We pound people," Alabama senior quarterback John Parker Wilson said. "They run reverses. We run power.
"We know what kind of offense they have and how we're going to have to play on offense to keep up with them."
The blueprint won't change. The Crimson Tide are going to run the ball just like they did Saturday to the tune of 234 yards. They're going to be patient. They're going to capitalize on mistakes. They're going to play their game.
Caldwell has no doubt that their game will be good enough.
"We're not a flashy group, but we're good at what we do," Caldwell said. "We play old-school football, and that's what we're going to do. We're not going to change for anybody. We're going to go out there and prepare just like we have for the other 12 games and we'll be ready to go.
"We're big on grinding it out. Time of possession is huge for us. Whenever you can do that to a team, it doesn't matter who you're playing or how explosive they are (on offense) if they can't get on the field. We take a lot of pride in doing that."
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Auburn did what it needed to defensively to hang around in the first half.
The Tigers got after Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson, pressured him and got their hands on a few balls.
But offensively, it was the same old story for the Tigers. They couldn't move the ball.
Alabama took a 3-0 lead as the first quarter expired on Leigh Tiffin's 37-yard field goal and did so with one of those drives that has made the Crimson Tide so dominant in the first half this season.
They kept the ball more than seven minutes and moved 76 yards in 15 plays. Included was a fourth-down conversion at the Auburn 30.
As a side note, Auburn has now gone 12 straight years without giving up a first-quarter touchdown to Alabama.
The more you watch these two teams play, the more it looks like the Tigers are going to need a big play from their defense or special teams to get their offense going.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It's anything but a new theory, but it's going to be Auburn's theory Saturday.
If the Tigers are going to have any chance of upsetting No. 1-ranked Alabama, they have to get to Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson early and force him into the types of mistakes he hasn't made this season.
Wilson's management of the Alabama offense has been masterful. A big part of that has been the fact that he hasn't been in a lot of third-and-long situations and has taken care of the ball. He's only thrown five interceptions, and Alabama has allowed just 15 sacks this season.
The trick for Auburn is trying to put Wilson into some obvious passing situations early and not allow Alabama to get its running game cranked up.
The Auburn defense has not allowed a first-quarter touchdown all season, which is exactly the way the Tigers need this game to go.
Sen'Derrick Marks and Antonio Coleman have both had productive seasons for the Tigers on the defensive line. They need great games Saturday, though, if Auburn is going to win its seventh straight in this series.