Given up for dead by many skeptics after giving a maximum effort performance in game 11 vs. Georgia to come up agonizingly short, few gave the Tigers much chance of getting off the deck to beat the scandal-plagued Crimson Tide, the hottest team in the SEC West.
However, not only did the Tigers beat a veteran Bama team in its own sandbox in Tuscaloosa, Tommy Tuberville's Tigers did it in impressive fashion.
"I thought the key to the whole thing, when it was all said and done, was the special teams," Tuberville said. "Roderick Hood had a great night. It was fun to watch us have fun. There had not been a lot of good things going our way in the last few weeks, but tonight it did. They have got a good football team."
Hood returned five punts for 73 yards in his second game back on that assignment after losing it due to a fumble. His work gave the Tigers good field position much of the game, especially in the first half.
Tuberville said his team played with intensity and so did the Tide. "They played hard," he noted. "We took away the option and we took away the sprint draw. We forced them to throw it and just worked our way."
Auburn improved its record 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the SEC after physically whipping the now 9-3 Tide, which is on NCAA probation. Normally the regular season finale for both teams, for a second year in a row that is not the case. Last year, Auburn had to play a makeup game at LSU after suffering a traumatic homefield loss to the Tide. This year, the Tide bought itself an extra game in Hawaii to ease the pain after being put through the ringer by the NCAA, squeezing the Tide program that had been trying to put a brave face on its NCAA probation woes with its own version of the spin cycle.
Auburn still has an outside shot at going to the SEC Championship and a bowl with the site yet to be determined. The probation-bound Tide will be home for the holidays.
While the bowl trip will be nice, Tuberville says, the Tigers made their season with the 17-7 victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. "It doesn't get any better than winning the Iron Bowl on the road," Tuberville said.