AUBURN, Ala. -- Here's a look at three lessons learned in Alabama's 34-28 loss to Auburn on Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The best case scenario might be the Sugar Bowl: The immediate concern for Alabama is its postseason destination. With the SEC Championship no longer in play, the BCS National Championship Game is almost certainly out of reach. It would take losses by at least Ohio State and Florida State in their league title games to even begin thinking about the Tide climbing back in. Putting that aside, the Sugar Bowl is likely the highest profile game the Tide can reach. And that would take Auburn winning the SEC Championship and making it to Pasadena, Calif.
Practice isn't everything: Chris Davis taking Adam Griffith's failed field goal back 100-plus yards for the game-winning touchdown shouldn't have happened. Alabama practices against it every week. But as UA tight end Brian Vogler explained, there's never a live person back to field the kick during the walk through. Instead, the kick team sprints toward the end of the field toward no one in particular. Had there been a returner back there each time, who knows? But what's certain is Alabama prepared for moments like Saturday night. The problem, as UA coach Nick Saban would lament after the game, they simply didn't execute.
Troubles with the option: It was supposed to be a battle of wills -- Alabama's stout run defense versus Auburn's potent rushing game. And despite the Tide getting its fair share of stops, the Tigers had the last laugh. UA entered the Iron Bowl having allowed just one 100-yard rusher all year. But the Tigers' Tre Mason eclipsed the century mark before the first half was even complete, gaining 164 yards overall. To make matters even more interesting, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall contributed 99 yards of his own on the ground, including a 49-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter. Auburn became the first team to rush for 200 yards on Alabama since Georgia Southern did it in 2011.