Sunday, 19 June 2011

Gene Chizik's Top 5 Auburn Games: No2 - Alabama '10

The Iron Bowl is always the biggest game of the year. Families are divided, friends are split and homes/bars/stadiums are jam-packed to witness the biggest rivalry in the south.

On November 26th 2010, the state of
Alabama stood still for the Iron Bowl, and Auburn rolled into Tuscaloosa sitting at a comfortable yet scary 11-0 and were looking to complete their 12th step of an undefeated season.

The road to Glendale, AZ went through Tuscaloosa.

Everyone knew that Bryant-Denny Stadium was a hostile environment, but this was going to be something else. After Cam Newton's NCAA investigation came to squat, Alabama fans felt this was their last chance to ruin Auburn's perfect season and play spoiler to Auburn's best start since 2004.

The atmosphere got tense as an Alabama part-time staffer played several songs aimed at the Cam Newton scandal in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Playing the songs "Song of a preacher man" and "Take the money and run" got the stadium fired up, and eventually led to the part-time staffer getting fired because of it.

If Gene Chizik could get out of Tuscaloosa with a win and protect his undefeated record, this would certainly define as one of his best games ever, and so it did.

As the game started, it was all Alabama. The Crimson Tide hit Auburn quick, when Mark Ingram walked in a 9-yard touch down after they drove down the field for the early score. Suddenly, the momentum belonged to Bama. After Auburn went three and out the Tide scored again after a wide-open Julio Jones, strolled down the field for a second touchdown, and Alabama had extended their lead to 14. Auburn had to do something, and they had to do it quick. Bama got yet another touchdown after Greg McElroy floated a 12-yard pass to Darius Hanks. Suddenly, this one was turning into a blow-out.

Auburn had to find a spark from somewhere, and they found it after Mark Ingram was found stumbling down the sideline, Antoine Carter made perhaps the biggest play of the season when he knocked the ball out of Ingram's grasp and Demond Washington hustled to the end-zone to claim a touch back. Finally, Auburn got some luck.

Alabama again was driving down the end-zone, and Auburn got some more luck as Trent Richardson dropped an easy touchdown pass, that may have really ended the game. Instead, he couldn't hold on the Bama had to settle for a Jeremy Shelley field goal. Bama was up 24-0 and cruising.

Then came Auburn.

The Tigers had to leave their mark by the end of the half, and that came to fruition after Emory Blake held onto a 36 yard touchdown pass from Newton, and Auburn had pulled one back, cutting the score to 24-7. The half ended.

I don't know what was said at half-time, I don't know what changes were made but it sure as hell worked, as Auburn came out in the second half unfazed, and were ready for a second half beat-down of the Tide.

One minute into the second half, Terrell Zachery caught a pass from Newton and after Mark Barron failed to make the tackle, Zachery ran into the end-zone and it cut the score to 24-14. Auburn was back in the game.

Auburn's defense showed up, after Alabama had stagnated on offense, Cam Newton lead his offense down the field and ran in a 1-yard touchdown. The score was 24-21 and the Tigers were comin'.

But then suddenly, the momentum swung back Bama's way. Quindarius Carr fumbled a punt return, when he should have called a fair-catch way before he caught it. Bama's special teams were ready to hit him, and they got the ball after they recovered the fumble.

Bama had another chance to extend the lead, instead they had to settle for a 32 yard field-goal with only a minute left in the third, to extend the lead to 27-21. Auburn's championship drive had commensed, and they were moving down the field on Alabama's defense. How
ever Auburn had fell short three downs, and Auburn was on 4th down. They could have punted it, instead Gus Malzahn took a risk as Cam Newton made a 4th down pass to Darvin Adams to keep the drive alive. It was a crucial play that kept hope alive.

Auburn continued their drive down the field, and they made the would-be game winning touchdown, after Cam Newton stepped out of the pressure and tossed a 7 yard pass to Phillip Lutzenkirchen (German for touchdown maker) and Auburn led 28-27. Bama had 11 minutes to find another score.

After several punts for both tea
ms, Alabama found itself in trouble after Greg McElroy got body-slammed by T'Sharven Bell, and The Tide had turned to their back-up Quarterback AJ McCarron. AJ had the chance to earn the trust of Tide fans, but it just wasn't meant to be.

A few incomplete passes later, Auburn had beaten the Alabama Crimson Tide and had climbed back and made perhaps the biggest comeback in Auburn history. Alabama had not lost at home since LA Monroe 2007, and no one had ever come back from 24-0 down to beat Bama before.

Through all the adversity, through all the doubt, through all the touchdowns, Auburn found a way to come back and win the 2010 Iron Bowl, and that in itself earns its legend status. Gene Chizik didn't let any of it faze him, as he got his team together and took this game from right under Bama's nose.

When the game began, Bama (for the better part of the second quarter) looked like they were going to destroy Auburn.

In the end, Auburn were the ones celebrating.