Auburn football: Tigers, Tide show us the best of college football in Iron Bowl
I’m not sure what I just watched during the past four hours on CBS. I know it was Auburn vs. Alabama, and therefore the Iron Bowl, but the insanity that occurred on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium may never be forgotten. And for a rivalry as historic as this one, that is saying something.
Let’s go down the list. Two interception returns for touchdowns, one 100 yards, for the Tigers. Jaylen Waddle proving that he might be superhuman. Bo Nix stepping up and doing what he was meant to do: beat Alabama. And there is Mac Jones, who proved to be so poised that nothing could rattle him.
If you are looking for one football game to see on ESPN Classic this week, this was it. Lead changes and massive tackles and personal fouls between two teams that, at the least, don’t like each other. Every time it seemed a team grabbed momentum, the other came back with a killer blow.
Yet, in a situation that will haunt Nick Saban and Alabama fans forever, it came down to one extra second and a field goal attempt, although this time on separate occasions. Anders Carlson nailed a last-second field goal at the end of the first half, and though he tried, not even Saban could get that second erased.
With the game on the line and Alabama 3 points behind, Joseph Bulovas smacked it off the left upright to give Auburn the ball and the opportunity to run out the clock. It seemed like Alabama would get the ball back, but, because of a smart moment by Gus Malzahn or someone else, Auburn caught the Crimson Tide in an illegal substitution situation and melted the rest of the clock.
You could almost feel like a sigh of relief come across the stadium, and then a realization that the Tigers had done it. It wasn’t exactly how everyone thought it would go down, but Malzahn had pulled a victory out of his hat that assured both that he will be back next year, and that the Tide will miss the College Football Playoff for the first time.
There were so many players on both sides who laid it all on the line that, near the end, it was almost sad that either team had to lose. Alabama running back Najee Harris was dominant. Auburn’s Derrick Brown proved once again why he is a man among … well, men. Carlson, who was inconsistent the entire season, showed up big time.
It was Auburn vs. Alabama at its best. No, it won’t go down with the classics like the “CamBack” or the “Kick Six” or Van Tiffin’s kick to win it for the Tide. But it should be remembered for a long time as one of the games in which the magical and unexpected, the bizarre and ridiculous and the everything in between happened between two bitter rivals.
At its core, it was what college football is all about, and why I found myself holding my breath down to the last snap in the victory formation. That game was why we love this sport.