Alabama, Auburn move on from FCS warmups to Iron Bowl
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Alabama and Auburn dispatched their usual pre-Iron Bowl FCS opponents as expected.
Now, the top-ranked Crimson Tide and No. 16 Auburn can focus on what really matters in this state: The Iron Bowl. `Bama has moved on from a lackluster performance against Chattanooga (still a 31-3 victory), and the Tigers' 55-0 win over Alabama A&M was hardly indicative of what they'll face Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Ditto for Alabama, which shouldn't have any issues getting up for this one.
''It's pretty easy because it's a rivalry game, the biggest one of the year, you could say,'' Tide defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson said. ''I still feel like some of my teammates who were here when we lost to Auburn a couple of years ago still feel the pain of losing to them. It's pretty easy to focus up just because we don't want to have that feeling again.''
Alabama (11-0, 7-0 Southeastern Conference, No. 1 CFP) has won the past two meetings and 23 games in a row. Auburn (8-3, 5-2) No. 15) is battling injuries to quarterback Sean White (throwing shoulder) and tailback Kamryn Pettway (left leg) that kept both out of the Alabama A&M game. Pettway also didn't play in a loss to Georgia that kept this from being a showdown for the SEC West title.
Alabama has already clinched that and will face Florida in the SEC championship game.
Senior Jeremy Johnson replaced White against Alabama A&M, passing for a touchdown and rushing for two more. Coach Gus Malzahn didn't offer any indication of White's status for the Iron Bowl after the game.
''I think at this point it's just being able to officially practice probably more than anything,'' Malzahn said. ''We'll see where that's at. I'm not ready to predict how he's going to feel in a day or two, or how he's going to do.''
For the most part, players from both teams skirted questions about the Iron Bowl after their respective games.
Not Tide receiver Gehrig Dieter, who will experience his first after transferring from Bowling Green.
''I feel like everyone in the country kind of watches that game growing up,'' said Dieter, who caught two 1-yard touchdown passes against Chattanooga. ''I always watched it growing up, and it's exciting that I have the chance to play in it. It's pretty exciting, as a team, what we've been doing this year, so we will come out next game and have an intensity about us.''
The general consensus among coach Nick Saban and Alabama players was that that intensity wasn't up to par in the latest game. The Tide fell behind early and led by a modest 14-3 at halftime.
Tomlinson said players had already addressed the issues in the locker room before Saban came in wanting to know, ''Do you believe me now?''
''He was angry, because Saban's always angry,'' Tomlinson said. ''He just got on everybody and made sure we were all focused.''
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