A first down would put the game away, but a turnover could be the lightning in a bottle that Alabama hoped to catch and steal a victory. Another factor was Auburn's place in the BCS standings and needing a decisive victory. With all those factors running through his head, Tuberville says in the end he made the only decision he felt he could make at the time and that was to run the football and punt.
"I've seen it happen too many times," Tuberville said. "If we had thrown an interception and they ran it back for a score and beat us we would have been 10-1 and I would have been fired. There was no chance. You take a win in any game you play, especially on the road and especially that one. That one means more than any other game you play so I wasn't about to take a chance. It's not worth it with injuries."
Ronnie Brown runs for yardage against Alabama Saturday.
Defensively that meant Auburn still had some work to do. Deciding to play a zone scheme against the Crimson Tide that allowed quarterback Spencer Pennington to eventually lead them downfield for a touchdown with just over one minute left, Tuberville says that he just felt like it was the right thing to do. Making Alabama work for the score left them without enough time to win the game following a Courtney Taylor recovery of an onside kick at the end of the contest.
"That was probably more my fault than anything," Tuberville says. "I made us play zone coverage a lot. I wasn't worried about the score, I was worried about winning the game. That's the problem you get in games like that. I would much rather take a win by eight than role the dice and lose by one in a game like that. You don't want to do that. We sat back, we didn't play prevent, but we weren't aggressive. It allowed them to go down the field, but it took time. Winning is a lot more important than how many you win by."
Auburn now must look at both the AP and Coach's Poll that came out on Sunday and wonder why they lost points. Despite playing on the road in one of the biggest rivalry games in the country, the Tigers lost points to number two Oklahoma in both. Tuberville says that not winning by enough shouldn't have been the problem because Auburn has more than done that all season without it paying dividends.
"If they had been going by that we would have been ranked number one after about the fifth or sixth game of the year the way we've been playing," Tuberville said. "I don't think they're looking at how much you're beating people by. I think they're looking at the teams you're playing and trying to give an honest answer."
Undefeated and taking the week off before getting back to work in preparation for Tennessee, Tuberville says that he's proud of all his team has accomplished to this point. Still, there is work to be done starting with the SEC Championship game. A win would mean a great deal to a program that is looking to once again stand on top of the best football league in the country.
"That's what I've been shooting for and got close only one time," Tuberville says. "There are some teams that haven't won this league in years and years. It's been 15 years for Auburn. We're not going to win this for me, but for our seniors and this program. We want this program to stand on its own. Whether we win it or we don't we've played awfully well this year. We've made a lot of strides and our recruiting is going great. As I said when I got here, I want to make this a consistent program where we're winning a lot of games each year. The last few years we've done that."