AUBURN - Auburn's downtrodden football team romped and stomped past overmatched Alabama A&M on Saturday, sending the seniors out in style with 51-7 victory. No sooner was it over than the Tigers turned their attention to the game that matters most.
Tailback Tre Mason off and running for a touchdown/Robin Conn photo
It's the Iron Bowl against No. 4 Alabama. Next Saturday. Tuscaloosa. Bryant-Denny Stadium.
"We're going down there to win," senior cornerback T'Sharvan Bell said. "They know we're going down there to win. They know they are going to get our best shot and we know we're going to get their best shot."
Alabama (10-1, 6-1) is expected to be a five-touchdown favorite against the Tigers (3-8, 0-7).
A win in the biggest Auburn game of most any season, Auburn coach Gene Chizik said, would go a long way toward getting rid of the bitter taste of a season gone so bad that his job security is in question
"Just the meaning of that game and what it means to the fan bases on both sides is huge," Chizik said. "We have an enormous challenge in front of us, but we're going to embrace it and have a lot of fun going over there and playing.
"... I think anytime you get a win in the Iron Bowl, it really sets the tone for pretty much whatever has happened previously in that year. And I think it sets the tone for the next year. A win in the Iron Bowl, for anybody, is huge."
The Tigers certainly had a lot of fun Saturday against FCS foe Alabama A&M, playing a BCS opponent for the first time. They led 21-0 after a quarter, 35-0 at halftime and coasted home.
Tre Mason ran 86 yards for a touchdown, the fourth longest touchdown run in school history, and 19 yards for another. He finished with 181 yards on 12 carries. Onterio McCalebb rushed 15 times for 112 yards and scored touchdowns on runs of 19 and 14 yards.
Sophomore safety Trent Fisher, getting his second start of the season, was the first Auburn defensive back this season to intercept a pass. He took it 60 yards for the final touchdown of the game. Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace completed 10-of-18 passes for 171 yards and threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Coates.
The Tigers broke the 50-point barrier for the first time since they beat South Carolina 5-17 in the 2010 SEC Championship Game. They rushed for 341 yards and had 512 yards offense. Alabama A&M rushed for just 22 yards and finished with 208 yards.
A reworked offensive line led the way up front. Redshirt freshman Christian Westerman got his first start at left guard. John Sullen moved to right guard and Chad Slade started at left tackle. Redshirt freshman Greg Robinson did not start for the first time this season.
Chizik said it was an enjoyable day before a crowd liberally estimated at 74,832.
"Certainly, it was fun for our seniors to go out right and to have fun on their last day (at Jordan-Hare)," Chizik said. "Hats off to the seniors. They've accomplished a lot here. They have a championship ring and have won a lot of games. It was good to see those guys go out on a good note."
With school out for Thanksgiving, Auburn players will not practice Sunday. They will return to the practice field Monday.
Alabama warmed up for the Iron Bowl with a 49-0 victory over FCS foe Western Carolina.