It’s Iron Bowl week in the South! No matter how the season has gone for each team, the Iron Bowl is still a huge deal and something both Auburn and Alabama want to be able to hang their hat on all offseason. With this week being the 88th Iron Bowl, let’s take a look at the top 5 moments in the legendary game for each team. Up first, the Crimson Tide:
#5: Breaking the Streak:
The 2008 Iron Bowl was far from the most exciting ever, but it is absolutely iconic in the hearts of Alabama fans. Auburn had won six straight in the rivalry, including Nick Saban’s first the season before at Jordan-Hare. After losing six straight, Saban’s squad came out and absolutely dominated Auburn in 2008 by way of a 36-0 shutout that was the largest margin of victory in the game in 46 years and completed an undefeated regular season for Alabama.
The Crimson Tide would go on to lose the SEC Championship to Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators as well as the Sugar Bowl to Utah, but this Iron Bowl and regular season for Alabama sent a clear message to Auburn and the rest of the college football world. Nick Saban had brought Alabama back to winning ways, and they were here to stay. They would go on to prove it the next season with Saban’s first national championship at Alabama. This one also ended in probably the loudest Rammer Jammer in Bryant-Denny history:
#4: Bear Bryant Breaks the Record:
The 1981 Iron Bowl one of the most important victories in the game’s history. It marked Bear Bryant passing Amos Alonzo Stagg’s NCAA record at the time of 314 wins, which was a huge deal for Alabama and college football as a whole. Auburn led the game 17-14 in the 4th quarter, but Bryant’s team refused to let the opportunity to break the record against the Bear’s most hated rival slip away, scoring two touchdowns and winning the game in Birmingham 28-17.
#3: The Snake Through the Mud:
The 1967 edition of the Iron Bowl is the first night game ever played in the history of the rivalry. It’s remembered mostly for it’s horrible weather conditions that included brutal thunderstorms and punishing winds, and the game was played like it. Auburn led 3-0 for much of the game until Kenny Stabler ran a fake option pitch and dashed 47 yards through the mud for the touchdown to take the lead with 11 minutes left. The Tide defense held on via two interceptions and went on to win 7-3.
#2: Bryce Young Keeps the Season Alive:
For much of the contest, the 2021 Iron Bowl was one of the more boring editions of the game in recent years, especially if you are an Alabama fan. The Tide’s best receiver in Jameson Williams was ejected in the first half for targeting on a punt coverage play and it showed that they were missing him all night. Even giving Alabama the ball back on the 3-yard-line when they could have sealed it, Auburn still looked poised to pull a massive upset and ruin Alabama’s hopes of a playoff appearance. After all, Alabama struggled all night to move the ball.
What followed was an improbable and magnificently engineered Bryce Young 97-yard touchdown drive in the game’s final minute to tie the game and send it to OT. It would be settled via a 2-point conversion battle that saw freshman Kool-Aid McKinstry make his biggest play of the season followed by a nasty route by John Metchie to silence the crowd and end the first overtime game in Iron Bowl history. Alabama would go on to dominate Georgia in the SEC Championship but ultimately fall to the Bulldogs in the National Championship rematch.
#1: The Kick:
Bryce Young gave the 1985 Crimson Tide a run for their money, but the pure excitement of the ’85 Iron Bowl and its back and forth 4th quarter gives it the #1 spot. Entering the final quarter, Alabama held a narrow 16-10 lead which would be lost via a Bo Jackson touchdown. The Tide reclaimed a 22-17 lead with a Gene Jelks 26-yard touchdown.
Auburn responded with another long touchdown drive to take the lead with less than a minute left, but missed the two-point conversion leaving the score at 23-22. Crimson Tide QB Mike Shula brought his team to the 35-yard line to set up Van Tiffin for a long 52-yard field goal attempt with 6 seconds left, which Tiffin nailed to give the Tide one of the most exciting wins in Iron Bowl history.
Honorable Mention: 2009 to Stay Perfect:
After the beatdown in 2008, Alabama was heavily favored heading into Jordan-Hare once again undefeated and the #2 team in the country. Their season ended poorly after last year’s Iron Bowl, losing to Florida in the SEC Championship then the Sugar Bowl to Utah. This Iron Bowl was much closer than 2008, with the Tigers leading 21-20 in the fourth quarter. Greg McElroy and the Tide offense executed a long touchdown drive to take the lead with under a minute left and won the game 26-21. They would go on to avenge their defeat against Florida in the SEC Championship and defeat Texas for Nick Saban’s first championship at Alabama.