AUBURN – The Auburn Tigers (6-6, 3-5 SEC) gave it everything they had against the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, 8-0 SEC) but ended up falling 27-24.
“Just first, really proud of our kids and the way they fought," Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze said. "Obviously, it stinks to not get the win tonight. We just didn’t play good enough in the critical moments. Had a turnover with probably three minutes to go, four minutes to go. And then obviously we didn’t execute fourth and whatever it was there. It really came down to those few plays in a game like this. But man, there's a lot of hurt in that locker room, and it stinks. Kids gave themselves the chance to win the Iron Bowl tonight, and it’s going to stick with us for a while.”
What are the biggest takeaways from the 88th Iron Bowl?
Auburn put itself in a good position
Auburn had chances to get it done.
A muffed punt by Koy Moore late in the fourth quarter ended up being a fatal mistake, but Auburn had things under control for most of the day.
Auburn managed to stay out of its own way for the most part. That has been one of its biggest weaknesses this season.
Auburn's dynamic running back duo showed out
Auburn had two solid performances from running backs Damari Alston and Jarquez Hunter.
Alston picked up 85 yards and one touchdown off of 10 carries. Hunter had 93 yards off of 14 carries.
Auburn was able to rely on the run early and often that played a factor in its ability to remain competitive in this game.
“It started in practice," Hunter said. "I think we had a great week in practice. We practiced hard. We came out here and showed everybody we can compete with anybody, and we showed that today. We just have to do it in the ball game. I think we played hard as a team. I think we fought together as a team. We just came up short.”
Auburn was able to get pressure on Jalen Milroe
Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe frequently found himself having to escape the pocket. The unfortunate thing for Auburn was his ability to extend plays being on full display.
Milroe frequently used his legs to create a play. He ended up with 107 yards off of 18 carries.
Auburn was only able to bring Milroe down for a sack one time.
Auburn's defensive secondary held its own for the most part
The unfortunate fact for Auburn's defensive secondary is that the only play that will be remembered from this game is the touchdown pass by Jalen Milroe to Isiah Bond with 0:32 left in the game.
“Stay deep," Auburn defensive back Jaylin Simpson said on the message before the late Alabama touchdown. "Just keep the ball in front of you. I knew we were rushing two, so we knew he was going to have a lot of time to scramble back there. But the main point was to stay deep, keep it in front of you and bat the ball down.”
That one play does not do an accurate job of depicting the game the unit had. Auburn had three important pass breakups. Additionally, it avoided giving up big plays for the most part.
Milroe had to go through his progressions to find open targets. Although his line of 16-24 for 259 yards and two touchdowns is nothing to ignore, it could have been significantly worse for Auburn.
Auburn did not have a good day on third-down conversions
Auburn went 4-12 on third-down conversions. Alabama was not much better, going 6-17, but the Tigers hindered themselves in that category.
Extending more drives could have put Auburn in a better position to close the game out.
Auburn is bowl-eligible. The Tigers will find out what bowl game they will be playing in on Sunday, December 3.
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