For Those Who Think The Iron Bowl Means Little, Think Again
By: Larry Burton
Earlier this year, I penned an article that brought for the the little known fact that each time Auburn’s finishes the season in the top ten, they come back the next season with a season that’s outside the top 20. This week they fell to 16th in the AP poll and a loss to Alabama would drop them outside the top 20.
But Auburn is not wanting to win the Iron Bowl to try and break that streak. They want to win because now out of the playoff picture, beating Alabama would give them two things they desire almost as bad if not more: Gain bragging rights and ruin Alabama’s chances of making the playoffs.
So Auburn will playing just as hard as if they were still playing for a spot in the playoff picture.
And if Alabama fans think that this down year for Auburn makes the game easier, consider this. Both Alabama and Auburn, through the first 12 weeks, have almost exactly the same offensive and defensive stats as they did last season. Last season, based on those stats alone, Alabama should have won, but as everyone remembers, they didn’t.
So this year they meet again, with almost the identical offensive and defensive numbers as last year, one would expect that the Tide should once again roll as they have a huge edge in the stats. Though the total offense stats are close, Auburn’s 485 yards per game average compared to Alabama’s 472, the Tide’s big advantage comes in the defensive numbers.
Alabama only allows 290 yards a game while Auburn averages giving up 389 yards a game. That hundred yards should make a huge difference. Also Alabama is averaging only giving up 14.5 points a game, while Auburn gives up a whopping 25.1. That nine point difference should be a big difference.
But it was about the same last season and it didn’t make a difference. Auburn played over their heads and had a miraculous win with one second on the clock when Alabama missed a go ahead field goal only to have it run back for a game winning touchdown for Auburn.
So if those stats didn’t make a difference last year, why should they this year? Last year Alabama was number one and Auburn was ranked beneath them, but that didn’t matter either. So why should Auburn come into this game feeling like they have any less chance to win than Alabama does?
Though Auburn is ranked lower this year than last year, the stats are all about the same. So if you think this game means less, then you don’t understand the Iron Bowl. It is a game to be savored, a sip at a time, like a fine wine. It can and does often give us a lot of surprises and I expect this game to be no different.
While Alabama will go into the game favored, just remember they were last year too.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter