Tigers Can Enjoy Sweet Victory Vs. Tide

Random thoughts after Auburn's 17-7 victory over Alabama...

*For a football team, few things are sweeter than doing what no one thought you could do. It might be stretching it to say no one thought Auburn could beat Alabama last Saturday, but there weren't a lot of believers outside the football team and coaching staff. After all, the Tigers were starting a freshman tailback who was fourth string just a few weeks ago and a fullback who had been a tight end just a week earlier. Alabama was ranked No. 9 in the country and had won five straight Southeastern Conference games, all by 14 points or more. Alabama was playing at home. Auburn was coming off a gut-wrenching loss to Georgia. All those things seemed to be ominous signs for Auburn.

Even as "experts" predicted they would be blown out, Auburn players and coaches went about getting ready. What unfolded at Bryant-Denny Stadium will always occupy a proud place in Auburn history. Not only did the Tigers win, they dominated the game. They won physical battles where they were supposed to have no chance. And they took home a victory that will be with them forever.

*If there was ever any doubt that Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville chose wisely when he named his new coordinators after last season, there should certainly be none now. Offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino and defensive coordinator Gene Chizik were masterful against the Crimson Tide. Petrino accomplished what most thought was impossible, devising a plan good enough to win with his top two tailbacks and his top fullback on the bench. In the first half, the Tigers had the nation's top-ranked defense on its heels. The 17-0 lead that resulted was more than enough to win the game. Chizik's defense dominated the game from start to finish. After Alabama closed the gap to 17-7 in the third quarter, Auburn's defense took control and never relinquished it. The Tigers' plan was to force the Tide to pass. That's everybody's plan against Alabama, but few have accomplished it. Auburn made it happen by dominating the line of scrimmage.

*Against teams ranked No. 1 in the nation in defense (LSU and Alabama), Auburn is 2-0 and has won by a combined score of 48-14.

*Neither the best team in the West nor the second best team in the West will go to Atlanta to play Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. The two best teams in the West were at Bryant-Denny Stadium last Saturday.

*Will the fans ever learn? Auburn fans made the mistake last season of assuming too much before the season finale against Alabama. Alabama fans made the same mistake this season. This game is too fiercely played by both teams to often be lopsided. As former Auburn coach Pat Dye used to say, "The less you say, the less you have to take back."

*The visiting team has now won four straight Iron Bowls. Much has been made for years of the success of the visiting team in the Auburn-Georgia series. I have a theory about those situations. I think, in such rivalries, emotions run so high without any help from outside that it just doesn't matter where the games are played.

*For Auburn, there will always be an element of frustration in this season. It will be remembered as a good one, not a great one, only because Damon Duval missed a 23-yard chip shot at Florida and Horace Willis stumbled and gave up a touchdown pass against Georgia. If those two routine plays are made, Auburn is 10-2, ranked in the top 10 and on its way to the SEC Championship Game.

*My guess on Auburn's bowl future? I'd put the Cotton first, followed by the Capital One in Orlando and the Music City. A second trip to the Peach Bowl in three seasons also isn't out of the question. The Outback seems less likely now than it did a day or so ago, but that could still change.

*I was pleased that Alabama athletic director Mal Moore received a three-year contract extension. He's a good man and a friend of many years.

*Former starting quarterback Daniel Cobb celebrated as enthusiastically as anyone after the game. Cobb has earned respect and admiration from the way he has conducted himself since losing the starting job to Jason Campbell.

*Speaking of Campbell, he is rapidly developing into one of the SEC's top quarterbacks. With another spring practice working with Petrino, he could be something very special next season.

*Alabama is an effective passing team when it dictates the tempo and throws when it chooses. It is not an effective passing team when its running game struggles, and it struggled against Auburn.

*Sophomore defensive end Bret Eddins played another terrific game. He has made remarkable strides over the course of the season.

Until next time...


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories