published Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Richardson keys Tide romp

AUBURN, Ala. -- Trent Richardson and No. 2 Alabama turned the Iron Bowl into a statement game. Now they'll wait and see what happens in the national title and Heisman Trophy races.

Richardson rushed for a career-high 203 yards and AJ McCarron threw three first-half touchdown passes to lift the Crimson Tide to a 42-14 Southeastern Conference victory over state rival Auburn on Saturday.

The Tide (11-1, 7-1) has a week before finding out if its resume is good enough to secure a shot at a second national title in three years. No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 1 LSU have big games remaining against No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 13 Georgia, respectively.

Richardson ran 27 times and caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in his final chance to impress Heisman voters. He had runs of 35 and 57 yards to set up second-half scores.

Fans began chanting first "Heisman" and then "LSU" in the fourth, with a sizable contingent wearing crimson and white remaining in the stands afterward clamoring for a rematch. By then, there wasn't all that much orange and blue left.

The Tide fell to LSU 9-6 in an overtime game that Bama fans, at least, feel didn't settle the matter of which one is better. It's pretty clear who's best in the state.

In the end, the win might have given the Tide enough style points to hold onto No. 2 in the BCS rankings whatever happens next week.

The Tide dominated statistically but didn't put Auburn (7-5, 4-4) away until Dee Milliner's 35-yard interception return early in the fourth quarter. Alabama entered the quarter with a 309-44 advantage in total yards but also gave up touchdowns on a fumble recovery and a kick return.

McCarron completed 18 of 23 passes for 184 yards but threw only five second-half passes. Richardson handled the rest. He gained 142 yards on 13 carries in the second half against a defense ranked 98th nationally against the run.

It was more than enough to end Auburn's streak of 14 straight wins at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Tigers' biggest offensive weapons were mostly nonfactors. Tailback Mike Dyer, the SEC's No. 2 rusher, had three carries in the opening half and finished with 13 for 48 yards.

Clint Moseley completed 11 of 18 passes for a paltry 62 yards and the interception return. Freshman backup Kiehl Frazier played much of the game but didn't complete either of his two passes.

The Tigers did threaten an offensive touchdown in the fourth quarter but stalled on downs after getting to the Tide 5. Then Richardson scampered down the left sideline and sprinted to the other side of the field for the 57-yarder.

Auburn managed to hang around for three quarters. Then Milliner intercepted a badly overthrown pass by Moseley, who has had three passes returned for TDs in Auburn's three biggest games against LSU, Georgia and Bama.

The two-point play made it 35-14, and Auburn couldn't come close to a second straight huge Iron Bowl comeback.

Like last season, Alabama led 24-7 at the half. This time the Tigers didn't have Cam Newton pulling the trigger on a comeback on the way to a Heisman and a national title.

Auburn struck instantly in the second half. Onterio McCalebb returned the opening kick 83 yards for a touchdown, the Tigers' first score on a kick return in Iron Bowl history.

The Tigers then held Alabama to a field goal and converted a fourth-and-1 near midfield but couldn't sustain the momentum change.

Auburn followed that up with a fumbled pitch for a 10-yard loss, a penalty and a lateral to Frazier, who badly overthrew a receiver deep.

Alabama outgained the Tigers 397-140 and held Auburn to 3-of-15 third-down conversions to firsts.

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