Auburn defeated #1 Alabama in one of the most unbelievable finishes to their storied rivalry anyone has ever seen.
Since that undoubtedly historic night, I’ve seen a lot of ill-placed blame and logic scattered throughout the Internet. Here are my thoughts I’ve compiled and broken down into ten points from the 2013 Iron Bowl.
1. Alabama committed six penalties for 45 yards. Five of those penalties (45 yards) came in the 2nd half. Four of them were false start penalties. One false start cost Alabama 3 points. A holding penalty negated a 1st down inside the Auburn 15 with 4 minutes remaining in the game. Bama entered the Iron Bowl averaging about 4.5 penalties per game.
2. Tre Mason gashed Alabama all night, running for 164 yards — the second highest total by an individual in Saban’s tenure at Alabama. Former Arkansas Razorback, Darren McFadden, rushed for 195 yards in 2007 (Saban’s first season)against Bama, but that was hardly Saban’s team.
3. Kenyan Drake gained 33 yards on 4 carries, then disappeared. Gary and Verne made no mention of the disappearance, to my knowledge. His last carry came early in the 2nd quarter, and I haven’t found anything citing an injury. (Edit: This may shed some light, but only a little…)
4. Auburn rushed for 296 yards — the most Alabama has allowed since Georgia Southern rushed for 302 in 2011. It’s the 3rd highest yardage allowed in Saban’s career at Bama.
5. Entering 2013, Cade Foster was 13 of 27 kicking for the Crimson Tide. Before the Iron Bowl, Foster was 11 of 12. Foster was also 8 of 9 from kicks under 40 yards in his career before missing a 33-yarder early in the 4th quarter.
He is not to blame for the Tide’s loss. As a team, they blew a 21-7 lead. A.J. McCarron missed several throws that would have resulted in big gains. Amari Cooper somehow dropped a pass that would have resulted in a touchdown (though, to be fair Auburn missed two big throws in the game as well). Saban opted to go for it on 4th and 1 at the Auburn 13-yard line. Which leads me to…
6. That’s a 30-yard field goal attempt. Saban could have made that himself. It was out of character for Nick, too. Glen Hubbard destroyed Auburn’s spirit moments earlier, stuffing Nick Marshall on 4th and 1. There are so many plays that happen throughout the game, making it awfully absurd to pin defeat on one person, but Saban’s decision to go for it was the ultimate head-scratcher.
7. The coaching staff didn’t seem to have Bama fully prepared. They looked lost, particularly early in the game, on several occasions. Saban’s “kryptonite” continues to be option-style attacks that implement an accelerated pace (aka, the hurry-up offense).
8. Attempting to kick a 57-yard field goal to win a game is pretty risky. A low trajectory could lead to a block, among other hazards. You don’t lose much if you decide to send it to overtime. It was the most improbable scenario that unfolded, though. I don’t know if the return caught Alabama off guard, but their effort (particularly Hubbard and DePriest) to stop Davis was pretty weak. Although Adam Griffith was the top recruit at his position in 2012, it was Saban’s second costly error of the evening and another perplexing decision.
9. Chris Davis did NOT step out-of-bounds…
And say Davis did step out, I didn’t see any replay or angle that presented conclusive video evidence of Davis stepping out-of-bounds. A ridiculous petition was started [by a Bama fan … I think] to push for Bama and Auburn to “replay” overtime — which is silly. I’m sure they’ll slot overtime in on Saturday morning, just before the SEC Championship. The game is over. Let’s move on.
10. Let’s be honest. When Alabama and Auburn’s programs are having success, it makes winning the Iron Bowl so much sweeter. As much as I, being an avid Alabama fan, enjoy a beatdown of those guys down south, a 45-0 win over a hapless Auburn team just isn’t that fun. Last year’s game was over at halftime. In the last two meetings where both Alabama and Auburn have been among the top teams in the nation, the Iron Bowl produced extraordinary results — two of the best contests in the entire 78-game series.
I didn’t feel like I was watching the Alabama football I’ve come to know over the last few years. It wasn’t poised or determined. It was sloppy, unseemly, and confusing. Some have gone to extremes in the wake of the loss (like this guy who apparently wants Saban gone). If you call yourself an Alabama fan and share these sentiments, please get a grip on reality. Believe it or not, it’s a good thing to lose now and then.
“It’s awfully important to win with humility. It’s also important to lose. I hate to lose worse than anyone, but if you never lose you won’t know how to act if you lose. When you lose, lose with dignity. When you win, win with humility.” — Paul William “Bear” Bryant