That is exactly what happened as the Tigers earned took a 17-7 victory in a game that featured lots of big hits, particularly from Robinson and his friends in the Auburn secondary.
"It was a war out there," the senior free safety says. "Coach (Tommy Tuberville) knew. He told us it was going to be violent out there. He knows what the Iron Bowl, the rivalry, is all about. They don't name it the Iron Bowl for nothing, so we had to go out there and play like men and do what we had to do to come out victorious."
With secondary coach Phillip Lolley reminding the defensive backs to take every opportunity to get physical with the Tide receivers and running backs, nobody did a better job of that than Robinson, who was credited with a dozen tackles including 10 solo stops. That effort earned him SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors. "It was a great game," Robinson says.
Before the showdown, Robinson noted that the Tigers needed to make the Tide offense predictable by shutting down the run and forcing Bama's quarterbacks to have to win the game by passing the football. Robinson and fellow safety Junior Rosegreen spent much of the game in run support making it difficult for the Tide to gain yardage on their favorite plays--the draws plus the option keepers and pitches.
"We played good on defense," says Robinson. "We could have played a little bit better. You know, we're never satisfied. It's the end of the season so we're peaking a little bit now. The last game we went out there and we gave it up at the end (24-21 loss to Georgia). We kind of took the blame for that, even though the offense didn't do so good. We told ourselves at the end of the game, ‘We won't lose this.' It was 17-7, and we looked at ourselves when they had to have 10 points to tie it up. We told ourselves that it wasn't going to happen."
Travaris Robinson has 38 solo tackles and 47 assists this season, which is second only to linebacker Mark Brown.
The only way the Tide did score was to convert a tipped pass interception into a 46-yard touchdown drive that was aided by two facemask penalties. Alabama came into the game with the SEC's and nation's top-rated defensive unit, but Auburn's defense was clearly the best one on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium with its speed giving the Tide's offense major problems.
Robinson, a former offensive player himself for the Tigers who made the move from wide receiver to cornerback to free safety, says he is proud of how the offense played. Auburn was running so short of backs during game week practices with Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, Brandon Johnson and Chris Butler injured that he volunteered to line up at tailback if needed. However, true freshman Tre Smith handled the heavy load nicely, gaining 126 yards on 25 carries.
"We had a lot of key performances," Robinson notes. "Tre did a great job in Ronnie Brown and Carnell's absence. It was just guys stepping up and making the plays when they had to. It's a team game. We depend on everybody. Tre is a freshman and he's got a bright future ahead of him."
Robinson says he is also impressed with redshirt freshman tight end Cooper Wallace coming through as the fullback for the Bama game. "We had to rotate him in there. That's what it's about. I've been shifted a lot throughout my career. We had to shift a couple of guys to new positions for this game because it means so much to the coaches, it means so much to us, and most importantly, it means so much to the Auburn people."
Last year, Robinson was a reserve cornerback, but new defensive coordinator Gene Chizik decided that both Robinson and Rosegreen would be more effective at the safety spots. Robinson has gotten better and better throughout the season at free safety and Rosegreen is a natural strong safety.
"T-Rob is a smart player," Chizik says. "It is important that we have somebody who is smart and athletic at that position."
Tuberville says that Robinson is playing his best football ever. "He was all over the field," says Tuberville, who says that his senior played his best game in Tuscaloosa. "He is good in games like that because he loves to play the run. He is a linebacker playing safety. He's made some good coverage on passes."
With classes out of session all week, Robinson and his teammates are taking a week off from football, too. They will return to campus for classes on Monday as well as strength and conditioning workouts. The Tigers will start bowl practice on Dec. 13th.
The Tigers may be spending part of their holiday season in Florida, Robinson's home state. The Tigers are in the picture for trips to the Bank One (formerly Florida Citrus Bowl) Bowl in Orlando and the Outback Bowl in Tampa where they would meet an opponent from the Big Ten conference. Other possibilities include a trip to Dallas to play a Big 12 foe, the Peach in Atlanta to play a team from the ACC or the Music City Bowl in Nashville vs. an opponent out of the Big Ten.