Gameday: Iron Bowl 2008

If you’ve been checking in on the site this week you obviously have noticed that we’ve put in a ton of work on design and content leading up to today.  No doubt you would think that we’ve given allot of thought about what to write and you would be right.

This year’s season has been a blur.  Literally.  I don’t know if it’s the fact that every other Saturday has found us in class or that Auburn has only managed to win five games.  There certainly is something about this season that caused it to come and now on the verge of going without much fanfare.  Could it be that this baseball town is starting to penetrate our skin?

Let’s light our candles.

We’re “on the verge of going out without much fanfare.”  We’re not out yet.  That’s what we hope for as fans.  The players will have to lay it on the line again, and come back and do it again.  The Pat Dye tribute video (above) was chosen for a reason, “again, and again…”  Auburn has proven it can rise time after time.  But this isn’t one of those teams of old, or is it?

We thought that we would go back in history and look at all the times that either Auburn or Alabama was undefeated and look at the record.  Well as I alluded to above, we’ve already invested quite a bit of time and to be honest I don’t know if those stats would be relevant.  There have certainly been games where either team could knock the other off.

In 2004, Auburn entered the game undefeated.  They dominated early only to let Alabama creep back into the game late and hold on for a win.  Auburn went on to win two more games and finish the year 13-0, becoming the first SEC team ever to accomplish that feat and not at least win a share of the National Championship.  Some speculated the close win over Alabama cost the Tigers that opportunity.

Alabama entered the 1992 Iron Bowl perfect.  They had what many considered one of the best defenses of its time.  Auburn didn’t put up much of a fight and Pat Dye ended his career being shut out.  Auburn fans in attendance, I included, openly wept as they watched Dye leave the field.  The Tide did go on to win a National Championship.

Just one year later in 1993, Auburn was the Cinderella story of college football having gone undefeated under first year coach Terry Bowden.  Just about every game of that season was an improbable win for the Tigers.  Alabama was pretty much in control of the game up until Patrick Nix made that legendary 4th-and-long throw to Frank Sanders for a TD.  Auburn was “eleven and oh” but ineligible for post season play due to probation.

1989 Iron Bowl Game Program CoverThere was also 1989.  Nineteen, eighty-nine: the year the Tide came to play at Auburn for the first time ever.  Undefeated and heavily favored, Alabama was on the verge of a national title.  We watched that game with our grandparents back at Lazy Acres and other than Auburn quarterback Reggie Slack leading Auburn to victory, all I can remember is my grandfather exclaiming “oh no” at every good Auburn play.  Alabama then lost its bowl game and head coach Bill Curry resigned having never beaten Auburn.

And considering the coaches, we note these games do usually take their toll on coaches.  Bill Curry and Pat Dye went out losing to the in-state rival.  Mike Shula having beaten Auburn as a player never got it done as a head coach.  He departed after the 2006 season, losing four straight games to the Tigers.  Auburn’s Terry Bowden went .500 against the Tide before quitting half-way through the 1998 season.  There wouldn’t have been much he could do to prevent a loss to the Tide that year.  Should he be credited with the 1998 loss, or interim coach Bill Oliver?

It’s kind of ironic that the coaches lose their jobs over these games.  The players really decide the outcome.  The games mentioned here are no exception particularly the quarterback play.  Neither Reggie Slack nor Jason Campbell would allow Auburn to lose in ’89 or ’04.  Many don’t recall that Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix came off the bench in relief of Stan White who had been injured in the ’93 game.  His first play off the bench was the TD throw to Sanders.  We’ll also give props to Jay Barker in ’92.

The question for today is… will these parallels hold true?

Here’s another team entering the game undefeated.  How perfect are they?  On paper there is no way Auburn has a shot in this game.

Here’s another coach with pressure mounting.  Will a loss to Alabama and a losing record on the season spell “D-O-O-M” for Tommy Tuberville?  His record against the Tide to date is 7-2.  (Psst – he has a winning record vs. Saban too).

Here’s another chance for a quarterback to lead.  Which QB or player will emerge as the hero?  Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson has been efficient.  Auburn quarterback Kodi Burns is learning.

Here is another underdog team looking for redemption.  Will today’s game be remembered about how it is played, or if it is just won?  Auburn has managed to win twice in these types of games in recent history.

That would bring us to a prediction.  We haven’t watched Alabama play this year.  We haven’t read all the hype.  We haven’t researched the stats down to each fraction of a number.  We don’t care that Alabama is undefeated.  We don’t care that Auburn has lost six games.  And because we live in a baseball town and won’t have to live with the outcome of this game for the next 365 days…

…we predict our seventh straight victory over Alabama.  Yes we’re not as good as in previous seasons so the scoring won’t be as high.  Final score…

Alabama, 12

Auburn, 89

WAR DAMN EAGLE everyone!

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