All too often, lists of “greatest moments in Iron Bowl history” are littered with Alabama losses. The fact is that much of this rivalry consists of comfortable Alabama wins, with Auburn eking out a few nail-biters in between that usually include some improbable nonsense. Today, we are looking back at the Iron Bowl through our Crimson glasses to find the best moments from an Alabama fan’s perspective.
There are so many great games to choose from. “Wrong Way Bo” and Ken Stabler’s “Run in the Mud” come to mind, and who can forget Derrick Henry’s 271 yard rushing performance? Still, we decided to keep it to 5 and the moments below are those that made the cut.
On to it. Here are my 5 most memorable Iron Bowl moments.
#5 - 2021: Bryce Young pulls it off late
This game certainly wouldn’t make the list based on the first 58 minutes of game action. Alabama’s offense was rendered virtually useless by a good but not great Auburn defense, exacerbated by star WR Jameson Williams’ first half ejection for targeting. A somewhat forgotten play in this game was Alabama safety Jordan Battle dragging Auburn RB Tank Bigsby out of bounds to stop the clock with 1:47 left and Auburn leading 10-3. Had Bigsby managed to stay in bounds there, 40 additional seconds run off the clock which would have made driving the length of the field almost impossible.
Auburn subsequently punted the ball to the Alabama 3 yard line with 1:35 left. Heisman winner Bryce Young would lead a tying 97 yard touchdown drive, capped by a great catch by Alabama freshman Ja’Corey Brooks (pictured above), and the Tide went on to win in 4OT. This drive was the start of Young’s Heisman push, finished off with a transcendent performance against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
#4 - 2008: 36-0
2008 was the season that Nick Saban and company announced to the world that Alabama was back. The Tide opened the season with a shellacking of Clemson in the Kickoff Classic and a couple of weeks later embarrassed 3rd-ranked Georgia in Athens. They ended up winning the first 12 games of the season, but none were sweeter than the 36-0 beatdown of Auburn. The Tigers had won six consecutive Iron Bowls coming into the season, and Auburn fans were more than happy to remind anyone who would listen. That all came to a crashing halt in 2008.
#3 - 1992: Antonio Langham’s pick six
This one makes the list largely because the 1992 squad is my hands down favorite Alabama squad. That season also featured the inaugural SEC Championship Game, which Alabama went on to win over Steve Spurrier’s powerhouse Florida squad, before torturing Miami and Heisman winner Gino Torretta in the Sugar Boal to claim a national title. We’re talking about the Iron Bowl here, however, and it’s tough to top Antonio Langham breaking a scoreless tie with a Pick Six.
#2 - 2009: Cody 5 keeps the championship run alive
The 2008 team announced the new sheriff in town, but it was the 2009 squad that managed to finish the drill and break a 17-year national championship drought. It wasn’t an easy path for the Tide, as a dominant defense had to bail out an inconsistent offense far too often.
Tide sophomore RB Mark Ingram would go on to win the Heisman Trophy in 2009, but the Auburn defense kept him bottled up all afternoon. Down 21-20 with under 5 minutes to play, Nick Saban had to put the game on the shoulders of QB Greg McElroy, who promptly led the Tide down the field with the help of WR Julio Jones. On 3rd and goal from the Auburn 3 with just under 90 seconds to play, Alabama brought in behemoth DT Terrence Cody at fullback. Everyone in the stadium thought that Cody would be lead blocking for a plunge into the line, but instead RB Roy Upchurch leaked out into the flat for a play-action game winning touchdown grab.
The following week, Alabama knocked off what was deemed an unbeatable Florida squad led by QB Tim Tebow to win the SEC Championship. They then took down Texas in the Rose Bowl for the national title, and a dynasty was born.
#1 - 1985: “The Kick” from Van Tiffin seals the deal
I’m dating myself here, but this game will forever hold a place in my heart as one of my first memories of Alabama football as a kid. Auburn came into the game ranked 7th in the nation behind eventual Heisman RB Bo Jackson, and fully expected to go home victorious. While Bo got his numbers in the game, the Tide got the win.
Alabama QB Mike Shula led a legendary drive that allowed Van Tiffin to forever writ his name in Crimson flame with an iconic 52 yard game-winning field goal. This is the only game on the list where Alabama had zero chance at a national title at the time it was played, but there’s just something about it that keeps it at the top, even all these years later.
So, there you have it. These are my favorites, but beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.
Share your favorite Iron Bowl memories with us in the comments.