AUBURN, Ala. (AP) – Derrick Henry ran 46 times for 271 yards and Adam Griffith kicked five field goals to propel No. 2 Alabama to the SEC West title with a 29-13 victory over rival Auburn on Saturday.
Griffith emerged as an Iron Bowl hero for the Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) two years after his last-play attempt touched off the Tigers’ winning Kick-Six play. Henry, meanwhile, just did more of the same against Auburn (6-6, 2-6).
The Heisman Trophy candidate produced his fourth 200-yard game of the season against an SEC defense. He helped put it away with 19 runs in the fourth quarter, then extended his school-record streak of games with a rushing touchdown to 17 in the final minute.
The Tigers stayed close into the fourth, aided by Jason Smith 77-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter which he twice tipped back to himself.
The Tide will play No. 10 Florida next week at the Georgia Dome for the SEC championship and a second straight berth in the playoffs. Alabama entered the game No. 2 in the playoff rankings and like No. 1 Clemson had trouble shaking its previously struggling rival.
Clemson survived a 37-32 scare against South Carolina earlier in the day.
Alabama’s win also didn’t come without a fight against an Auburn team that had struggled all season.
Jake Coker completed 17 of 26 passes for 179 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown to ArDarius Stewart in the third quarter after eluding two defenders.
Auburn bounced right back with Smith’s improbable but eerily familiar touchdown catch. Smith tipped the deep ball from Jeremy Johnson into the air twice with his right hand before collecting it and racing to the end zone for the Tigers’ longest pass play of the season.
It was reminiscent of Ricardo Louis’s deflected catch for a touchdown to beat Georgia two years ago for Auburn. Only this time no SEC or national title shot was on the line.
Johnson was 10-of-23 passing for 169 yards. Jovon Robinson ran for 53 yards but only had two second-half carries.
Before Henry took over, Griffith kept the Tide ahead. His field goals went for 26, 40, 26, 50 and 47 yards. He came off the bench to attempt an even longer one on the final play against Auburn in 2013 that Chris Davis returned 109 yards for a winning touchdown.
Auburn helped set up Griffith’s fifth field goal with two 15-yard penalties on the same play. Johnathan Ford was flagged for hitting Coker out of bounds. The Tigers were also penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after defensive coordinator Will Muschamp came out on the field screaming at officials, before getting led back to the sideline by other Auburn staffers.
Auburn’s Daniel Carlson, a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, pushed his string of made field goals to a school-record 16 with two more before missing a 48-yarder.