Throwback Thursday: Cam Newton leads biggest comeback in Iron Bowl history
Alabama and Auburn will compete in the 80th Iron Bowl this Saturday. Although this season’s game isn’t expected to be that close with the thriving Crimson Tide a double-digit favorite over the reeling Tigers, it was just five years ago that we saw one of the most competitive games ever played in this series.
We’ve all seen what Cam Newton is doing in the NFL this season — leading the Carolina Panthers to a 10-0 record and putting himself firmly in the league’s MVP conversation. But before becoming the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011, he was just as dominant in college football, leading Auburn to a national title and winning the Heisman trophy in 2010.
In the Iron Bowl that season, Newton had one of his most memorable performances in front of a hostile crowd in Tuscaloosa.
Before Nov. 26, 2010, no team had ever come back from 24 points down to beat Alabama. But that’s exactly what Auburn did that night to move No. 2 Auburn to 12-0, keeping the Tigers’ national championship and Newton’s Heisman hopes both alive.
Auburn was on the verge of getting blown out, trailing the Tide 24-0 in the first half.
Alabama running back Mark Ingram and wide receiver Julio Jones, both successful NFL players, scored touchdowns and Kirby Smart’s defense seemed to have the answer for Newton and the Tigers offense.
But Newton was used to bringing his team back — Auburn was behind in eight of its 12 games that season, but won them all.
Starting with a 36-yard TD pass to Emory Blake in the second quarter, Newton went on to throw for three TDs and run for another as Auburn rallied for a 28-27 comeback victory.
After the game, Newton’s coach Gene Chizik showed sheer and utter amazement at his quarterback.
“Cameron Newton is physically and mentally as tough as I’ve ever seen,” Chizik said. “Period.”
Newton’s second passing touchdown went for 70 yards to senior WR Terrell Zachery. His final touchdown was a 7-yarder to Philip Lutzenkirchen with 11:55 left in the game gave Auburn its first lead of the day.
“That’s the kind of team we have,” Zachery said. “We never give up.”
Before the Tigers won this game, Alabama had won 20 straight games in Tuscaloosa, making the comeback that much more improbable.
“That was a game that will certainly go down in history,” Chizik said. “It’s hard to come back when you’re down 24-0 against anybody.”