As I have explained many times on this blog, I am about as neutral as they come regarding the national football scene. I am willing to keep an open mind about any school, or any conference, or any player.
In the Alabama vs Auburn rivalry, or the Auburn vs Alabama rivalry, I am not in favor of any team winning.
Sometimes, I will admit, that I will often have a favorite player on one of the teams and I will pull for that guy. For example, I always liked Bo Jackson and wanted the Tigers to win when he was there.
The same was true of Cam Newton. On the other side, I have written about Bama players on this blog like Major Ogilvie, Woodrow Lowe and Johnny Musso and I pulled for Alabama when they were there.
But, either way, I will always enjoy a good ball game no matter who is out there and the Iron Bowl has produced a lot of great games over the years. It’s tough to pick a top ten, but for me these were the top Iron Bowl games that I have seen.
1. Kick Six: Any football fan remembers this game that just took place in the 2013 season. The Auburn Tigers were coming off of one of their worse seasons ever when they only won 3 games in 2012. They fired head coach Gene Chizek and brought in Gus Malzahn who was Chizek’s Offensive Coordinator in 2010 when they won the national championship. Surprisingly, Malzahn had the Auburn Tigers at 10-1 coming into this game with a miracle win over Georgia the previous week. The Tigers were ranked #4 with the Alabama Crimson Tide coming in at #1. Alabama was a big favorite coming in, but Auburn kept hanging around and tied the game up at 28 a piece with time running out. Instead of playing to go into Overtime, Alabama coach Nick Saban went for the win. That might have been a good decision, but it did backfire on him when the Tide attempted a Field Goal that fell way short and was returned for a Touchdown by
Auburn’s Chris Davis 109 yards for an Auburn win and the SEC West Championship. One of the most shocking endings of any game of all time.
2. The Cam Back Game: One of the more incredible games I have ever seen in the 2010 season with Auburn in the hunt for a national title. 11th ranked Alabama impressively ran up a 21 to 0 lead over the 2nd ranked Auburn Tigers in the 1st quarter. In the 2nd quarter, the Tide kicked a Field Goal and went up 24 – 0. Even more stunning, Alabama had 314 yards to 2 total yards for Auburn. Alabama had a 21 point lead before Auburn even got it’s first 1st down of the game. The Tigers finally managed to get something going and scored before the half making the score 24 to 7 at intermission. The second half was all Auburn and they impressively came from behind to win 28 to 27. Auburn’s Quarterback Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy and the Tigers went on to win the national championship.
3. Punt Bama Punt: If any Bama fans read my blog I am not making fun of anyone. I wrote about this game on my blog previously: Punt Bama Punt For anyone that has ever followed college football closely, the blocked punts that happened in this game is extremely rare. For the exact same guy to block the punt twice in a row and then another exact same guy to pick it up on a dead run and score a Touchdown is one in million type of odds if you are a gambling type of person. Read my other post about Punt Bama Punt and the blocked Punts in a Miami versus Florida State game for more details. Auburn won 17-16 just on blocked punts. The really remarkable thing about this game is it happened in 1972 under Bear Bryant one of the best coaches of all time and such a special teams blunder was pretty unique.
4. The Drive: Another dramatic ending to a classic rivalry series. Huge underdogs before the game got started, in 2009, the Auburn Tigers jumped all over the Crimson Tide and established a 14 to 0
Bama fought back and came back to tie it up at 14 a piece. In the 3rd quarter, the Auburn Tigers once again scored to go up 21 to 14. Once again, the Crimson Tide fought back gamely. They picked off a pass and drove down to kick a Field Goal. The same thing happened and the booted another Field Goal to close the gap to 21 – 20. Alabama Quarterback then helped lead the Crimson Tide down the field with time running out and he completed a Touchdown pass to Roy Upchurch with 1:24 left in the game to take a 26 to 21 lead. The Tigers made a valiant effort at a last second win but their Hail Mary came up just short. Alabama went on to win the national championship.
5. The Kick: This game, in 1985, was one of the wilder Iron Bowl games. The ending was pretty amazing. With 4 lead changes in the 4th quarter, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Quarterback Mike Shula got the ball back at their own 12 yard line with 37 seconds left in the game. The Tigers were winning 23 to 22 and just needed one more stop. Mike Shula and the Tide apparently didn’t want to be stopped and drove the ball down to the Auburn 36 yard line. From there, Van Tiffin kicked a 52 yard Field Goal as the clock ran out giving the Tide a remarkable 25 to 23 victory. This game would be ranked higher if there was more on the line that season.
6: Bo over the top: This Iron Bowl game took place in 1982 in what was Bear Bryant’s last game and Bo Jackson’s first. I wrote about it on my blog recently and you can read more details here: Bo Over the Top This was a game mostly dominated by Bama until Bo got it going in the second half.
Alabama had a 9 game win streak over Auburn coming in, so this game was significant in turning that around. Bo Jackson dove over the top of everybody with about 2 minutes left in the game to give the Tigers the win and he would obviously go on to even more fame and win the Heisman Trophy. After retiring, the legendary Bear Bryant died two months later. Love the Tide or hate the Tide, you will have a hard time convincing me that Bear Bryant was not the best coach ever in college football.
7. Wrong way Bo: Bo Jackson was one of the best players in college football history, but even a great one like Bo made a mistake once and this was a huge one. In 1984, it was 4th down and goal from the Alabama 1 yard line with time running out and the Tide desperately clinging to a 17 to 15 lead. Instead of kicking the Field Goal, Auburn coach Pat Dye elected to go for it. They pitched to Halfback Brent Fullwood and Bo ran the wrong way missing a key block and allowing the defense to force Fullwood easily out of bounds. It’s hard to say who made the biggest blunder, Bo or Pat Dye. Most any kicker in the world could have made it from the 1 yard line and he went for it. It should be hard for any Auburn fan to be too upset with either of them.
8. The run in the mud:I had to include this game because of how bizarre it was. The game at Legion Field in 1967 was pelted by heavy rains. The score was 3 to 0 in favor of Auburn late in the game. Alabama Quarterback Kenny Stabler took the ball on a 47 Touchdown run where people claim he clearly was out of bounds. The play is posted on Youtube for those that haven’t ever seen it and he doesn’t even look close to the sideline and if he had there was still time on the clock and it would have been first and goal. Here is the video so you can see for yourself:
9. Lawyer Tillman Reverse: This 1986 version of the Iron Bowl had yet another fantastic finish. Alabama had a 17 to 14 lead with 32 seconds remaining in the game. Auburn had driven to the Alabama 8 yard line and on 2nd down, they ran a reverse play featuring none other than the name this game became known as, Lawyer Tillman. Running through heavy traffic, Tillman weaved his way through Bama defenders and dove into the End Zone giving the Tigers a thrilling 21 to 17 win.
10. The Fumble: Can you imagine yet another thriller in this game? Any college football fan whether you love these teams, or hate them, has to admit that these two teams play some great game against one another. Plus, they hate each other so much. For a neutral fan, the games are pretty fun, but they are life and death for an Auburn or an Alabama fan.
Alabama had a slim lead of 17 to 15 in the 1997 Iron Bowl, with time running out in the 4th quarter. Bama Quarterback Freddie Kitchens hit Fullback Ed Scissum with a swing pass and he was
hammered by Martavius Houston of Auburn and a host of other defenders and he coughed up the football. Auburn recovered on the Alabama 33 yard line with little time remaining. A few plays later and the Auburn Tigers’ Jarrett Holmes kicked a 39 yard Field Goal with 20 seconds remaining. Believe it or not, Bama had a chance to win it with 6 seconds left and Alabama kicker A.J Diaz’ 57 yard Field Goal attempt came up short. Auburn won 18 to 17 in another fantastic finish.
11. How the Inch stole Christmas: One of the bad things about football is the judgement calls made by human beings that determine the outcome of an entire game. Auburn went for a first down on 4th and about 3 or 4 against Alabama late in the game to try and keep a drive going. The Auburn Quarterback hit his receiver right at the first down marker and he looked to have made the first down from Auburn players and fans eyes and I happen to agree with them. The refs gave the Tigers a poor spot, in my opinion, and they were inches short of a first down. Auburn hadn’t lost a game in two years and this did not sit well with them.
As the 2015 season rolls around nobody really knows what’s going to happen, or which teams win their Conferences. Which teams make the playoffs is a long way off, and there are a lot of fun games in between now and then.
We are all just excited to get the season going and no matter which teams you love, or which teams you hate, there is a pretty good chance that this year’s Iron Bowl game will be a fun game to watch.