Auburn, Ala--It’s late November and many families are gathering together to enjoy Thanksgiving with their loved ones. Not only that, but many fans of the 6-5 Auburn Tigers or the 10-1 Alabama Crimson Tide will be able to celebrate a win Saturday night. That time of the year is upon us. It’s Iron Bowl Week.
For the in-state players on the Auburn team, this game means a great deal. They’ve known of the big game since they were little.
“I grew up with the Iron Bowl,” said Big Cove, Ala., native @Rudy Ford. “I remember the 2004 year, and I remember Cam Newton’s year when (the Tigers) came back. It’s just in your blood. I’ve always wanted to play in it. It’s the biggest game of the year.”
Ford started at safety in last year’s 55-44 loss to Alabama, and the junior understands the importance winning the rivalry game holds to both fan bases.
“(The Iron Bowl) means everything,” Ford said. “We don’t have an NFL team in Alabama. This is what people come to watch in our state. This (game) means a lot to our whole state and to our fans. This is the biggest rivalry in college football.”
However, you would not need to have grown up in the state to realize the impact of the game.
“This game speaks for itself,” said senior linebacker Kris Frost, who signed with Auburn in 2011 out of Butler High School in Matthews, N.C. “When it comes to the Iron Bowl, it seems like everything is at a level playing field. With it being such a big rivalry it’s really just all about doing whatever you have to do to put yourself in a great position to make a play. We’re extremely confident heading into this game.”
Frost pointed out that in recent times Crimson Tide teams “execute well” and “don’t hurt themselves.”
Frost and the Tigers will take on Alabama at 2:30 p.m. CST on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The linebacker has been with the Auburn program for five years so it’s no surprise that the Iron Bowl has had a profound impact on his career, including being one of the 11 players on the field for Chris Davis’s “Kick Six” in 2013.
On the other hand, players who haven’t been at Auburn as long, such as transfers, could possibly have a harder time grasping the significance of the rivalry. Well, that might be the case if the Iron Bowl was just any old rivalry.
“The Iron Bowl is big from years before I was even born,” noted junior college transfer Devonte Danzey, who hails from Tampa, Fla. “Just growing up, watching it and being able to play in it for the second time, it’s going to be big.”
The players will not care about the 11 contests already played this season when they step onto Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium this Saturday. For some fans, this game can make or break a year both in and out of football fandom.
The players? They’re amped and ready. Asked if Auburn will shock the world, Frost simply responded, “Oh yeah.” Danzey’s response was a little more direct.
“Just bring on the Iron Bowl.”