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Impressions From Being at the 2017 Iron Bowl – First Half

The crowd was certainly a much bigger factor than most imagined they would be in this game. Read the details of the first half and how it felt being there.

Saban didn't like he saw the first half. (Photo - Larry Burton, TDA Magazine)

Impressions From Being at the 2017 Iron Bowl – First Half

By: Larry Burton

Loud. That was the word. It was unbelievably loud in the pregame, loud in the introductions, loud at kickoff and loud anytime they gained more than three yards. Auburn’s stadium and fan base is loud. If you think it’s loud in Bryant-Denny Stadium, you don’t know loud.

When Auburn completed a long screen pass in their second drive, my ears actually hurt. This was a pumped up crowd. Levi Wallace made a very sloppy attempt at a tackle that cost Alabama almost 20 extra yards.

At the 6:12 ticking of the first quarter, Auburn got it into the red zone and at 4:38 when they scored, I think you could have heard it a county away.

I’m sure that Saban is wanting to take the crowd out of this game and there’s only one way to do that and so far Alabama has just shown an inkling of that.

On the second play of Alabama’s answering drive, Alabama took a shot to do that, but pass interference stopped that. Then Jalen got loose, but a penalty on the next play for chop block brought most of that back.  On second and 20 Jalen tried to break another one, but forgot to take the ball with him and when Auburn recovered, more noise and excitement fed the Auburn Tigers as the players on the sidelines were going wild.

Clearly the team feeds on the energy of this noise and these fans.

Kerryon Johnson clearly isn’t going to win this game, but if Alabama’s strategy was to have Jarrett Stidham beat them with his arm, that seems to be just fine with Auburn so far.

But to end the first quarter, Stidham hurt Auburn, not with his arm, but his hands, he bobbled the snap and just like that a sure score was lost and Alabama had the ball.

Throughout the first quarter was Auburn was getting red hot, temperatures at the stadium seemed like they were dropping and darker clouds started moving in. It was hard to tell if this was an omen and if so a bad one for whom?

After a short run and an incomplete pass, Auburn’s fans went back to their vocal chords for help and it certainly helped. Alabama’s offense so far had just a paultry 62 yards to Auburn’s 150. The only bright spot for the Tide so far has been the punting of J.K. Scott.

Finally the Tide held the Tigers to their first three and out and for the first time, the crowd grew a little quiet. However, the video operator at Jordan-Hare tried his best to start pumping up the crowd as they, the operators of the board, must have thought that too.

At the 11:57 mark of the second quarter, Josh Jacobs finally got in the game, got a good run on first down and made a key block on the second to get the Tide past mid-field. Two more short runs and here goes the crowd on third down and Alabama came up a yard short and opted to go for it on fourth down and made it. Then Hurts threw up a long 50/50 kind of pass that freshman Jerry Jeudy came down with. With the score tied at the 8:31 mark in the second quarter, it was now officially a war again.

Stidham hit a first down pass, Johnson finally broke a few runs for two first downs and Auburn was in their quick tempo mode. But a wildcat play lost four, Johnson ran for a couple and Stidham tried to scramble when things were covered. Bama’s defense had done their part and now with 4:27 left until halftime, it would be up to the Tide’s offense to try and return the favor. However they were going to have to start this drive from the two yard line due a fantastic punt from Aiden Marshall.

Smelling a chance for something big to happen, the crowd was waiting on the Alabama offense. When Scarbrough only gained one yard, it only made the fans grow louder. After another short run and a third and four, the sound was deafening and when Calvin Ridley dropped a ball he should have caught, the crowd went wild and Auburn fielded a punt just inside the Bama side of the 50 yards line and went to work with just 2:53 to go.

A four yard run by Johnson and a missed pass that the Auburn faithful was sure was pass interference was followed by another good Stidham pass to get them to the 22. Auburn then milked the clock to make it look like they were setting up for a last second field goal and with five seconds to go from the 16 yard line, that’s just what they did.

At the half, Auburn and their noisy crowd held the lead 10-7 and while a three point Tiger lead wasn’t surprising, how they had held the Alabama offense in check the whole first half was.

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


Larry Burton is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and was the most read SEC and Alabama football writer during his time at Bleacher Report. He has been credentialed by all the major bowls and the University of Alabama. Larry provides some of the best insight in the business through his "Larry's Lowdown" segment with TDA.

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