AUBURN, Ala. – Alabama coach Nick Saban was in a good as a mood as he’s been all season after the Crimson Tide’s win over Auburn.

Alabama defeated the Tigers, 29-13, in its regular-season finale Saturday, clinching the SEC West title and a berth in next week’s SEC Championship Game in the process.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our team in terms of the way they competed really all year long since the Ole Miss game,” Saban said. “This was a tough one today, but they certainly responded well and did the things they needed to do to have success.”

Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) overcame a somewhat surprisingly competitive first half against Auburn, leading only 12-6 at halftime on four Adam Griffith field goals. But the Crimson Tide, ranked No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, pulled away in the second half, thanks largely to junior running back Derrick Henry, who rushed for a career-high 271 yards on a school-record 46 carries. His lone touchdown of the game, a 25-yard run with 26 seconds to go, sealed the win.

“There’s been a lot of great players play at Alabama, lot of great running backs, so I don’t know if they all got as many opportunities as he got when they played,” Saban said in response to a question about the player. “We’ve had some really good running backs here, first- and second-round draft picks, guys that are playing well in the NFL.

“But what Derrick has done for this team, because this team needs him to do what he does, I would say he’s made as significant of an impact on this team as any player as we’ve ever had.”

Because his team won, he even joked about Auburn’s 77-yard circus touchdown pass, saying it reminded him of two of the Tigers’ famous 2013 plays: the tipped touchdown pass to beat Georgia, along with the missed field goal returned for a score against his own team.

Later, when told a story about kicker Adam Griffith – who was a perfect 5-for-5 on field goal attempts on Saturday – from earlier this season, Saban again shared a laugh with reporters.

Alabama will play Florida in the SEC Championship Game held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT.

Watch the video above to hear all of Saban’s postgame reaction.

(Thanks to BamaOnLine for Saban’s video.)

Watch postgame player interviews from Saturday's win:

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