Alabama vs. Auburn score, takeaways: No. 7 Tide roll past gritty Tigers to win third straight Iron Bowl

No. 7 Alabama topped Auburn 49-27 in the Iron Bowl on Saturday afternoon, securing its 16th straight double-digit win season and third consecutive win over its intrastate rivals from The Plains. The Crimson Tide have now won 12 of the last 16 meetings with the Tigers since 2008.

Auburn struck first to go up 7-0 in the first quarter, but it was all Bama from that point. The Tide ripped off three straight touchdowns -- a 5-yard rushing score from quarterback Bryce Young, a 10-yard pass from Young to RB Jase McClellan, and a 5-yard run from RB Roydell Williams -- to take control that they would never relinquish.

Auburn did its best to stay in the game when QB Robby Ashford hit Ja'Varrius Johnson in the back corner of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown to make it 21-14 in the second quarter. Otherwise, Auburn's offense was decidedly one-dimensional and Ashford couldn't consistently move the chains through the air.

As was the case earlier in the game, three straight Tide touchdowns put it out of reach following Johnson's scoring grab. Young hit Ja'Corey Brooks for a 32-yard score and Traeshon Holden for a 27-yarder touchdown to close out the first half. McClellan added a 2-yard run on their first drive of the second half to stretch the lead to 42-14.

Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Draft-eligible junior, likely played his final game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. He finished with 343 yards passing with those three touchdowns and one interception. Ashford was 11 of 23 for 77 yards and one touchdown, adding 121 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground. 

Was this Young's last dance?

If this was Young's last ride in Bryant-Denny, he went out with a bang. His ability to go through progressions -- under duress or with a clean pocket -- was immaculate all afternoon. More importantly, he played his best when it counted the most. He was 5 of 7 for 93 yards on third downs, with all five of those completions moving the chains. Ten of his completions were for 15 or more yards, including eight in the first half to put the Tigers in an impossible hole. 

That's what legends do: Take control when it matters most. 

It's unlikely that Young will get a chance to win a national championship as a starting quarterback. Sure, he got a ring in 2020 behind Mac Jones, but the Tide fell short in each of Young's two seasons atop the depth chart. That shouldn't take away from his legacy or how important he has been to this program, however. He became the first Alabama quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy last year, and that came after coach Nick Saban orchestrated an offensive transformation with a QB-friendly scheme over the last decade. Young strengthened that foundation during his two years taking the snaps, even if he didn't get a ring. 

Strength in the trenches

Alabama's offensive line has been a weakness for Saban's crew over the last two years, but it didn't look like it against the Tigers. Young wasn't sacked a single time, and Auburn managed just three tackles for loss on the afternoon. For comparison, Alabama had been giving up 5.18 tackles for loss per game this season.

The offensive line's success against the Tigers allowed Young to show out in his final game of the regular season. It helped the offense stay on the field against an Auburn offense that, while one-dimensional, was still effective thanks to the creative play-calling of the interim staff. The Crimson Tide converted six of their nine third-down attempts, which played a huge roll in the overall outcome.

Cadillac should be remembered fondly

It's unlikely that Carnell Williams will be given the full-time head coaching gig at Auburn with Hugh Freeze reportedly in line to take over. However, that shouldn't take away from the impact he made in four short games on the sideline. 

Auburn was shattered under former coach Bryan Harsin. Players, coaches, administrators and fans -- everybody seemed to be moving in totally different directions. That changed in November when "Cadillac" brought a newfound energy to the sideline and the locker room. There was an energy on the sideline that the program desperately needed. He brought the program together and sent it in the right direction with a 2-2 record. Even in a losing effort in the Iron Bowl, he showed what kind of fight he brought to this team.

Williams set the groundwork for the future. Will he remain on the staff even if he doesn't get the job? That remains to be seen. Whatever happens in the future, Auburn is in a better place now and Cadillac deserves a ton of credit for it.

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6:38 Q3: No. 7 Alabama 42, Auburn 21

It still seems like this game is out of reach, but Auburn isn't packing it in quite yet. Quarterback Robby Ashford took it in from 14 yards out on third-and-goal to cap off a 75-yard touchdown drive. Ashford deserves a ton of credit in this game. He is operating the offense with precision, even though it is clearly limited. Interim offensive coordinators Ike Hilliard and Will Friend have done a great job mixing things up within the running game as well.

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9:57 Q3: No. 7 Alabama 42, Auburn 14

The Crimson Tide came out of the locker room in the exact way it went in ... on fire. Jase McClellan scored from two yards out to cap off a 9-play, 72-yard drive that lasted 4:54 to turn this game completely sideways. Auburn's defense hasn't been able to get pressure on Bryce Young all afternoon, and it doesn't seem like that will change after the first drive of the second half.

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