Recap: Alabama beats Auburn in Iron Bowl
TUSCALOOSA– There’s something about the Iron Bowl that has a magical ring to it. No matter who ends out on top, fans can always expect nothing but pure excitement when Auburn and Alabama play. Tonight, there was nothing different. In typical Iron Bowl fashion, the Alabama Crimson Tide managed to come back 11 points down and beat the Auburn Tigers 55-44.
Amari Cooper and The Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, (7-1 SEC)) trailed 33-21 before the heisman contender began taking matters into his own hands. Blake Sims managed to find Cooper for a 39 and 75 yard touchdown deep in the third quarter to put the Tide back on type and give them the monentum to stop Auburn for doing anymore damage.
“He [Cooper] ran a great route on both of them,” Sims said. “I just put the ball where it needed to be, and he went and got it and did the rest.”
Cooper finished the day with 13 receptions, for 224 yards and three touchdowns, breaking his own school record he set earlier this season. Cooper has been the MVP for the Crimson Tide this season if not all of college football. He has made such a name for himself in just this season that he has earned his way into Heisman talk. When asked about going to New York, he managed to stay humble and focus on the team rather than himself.
“I don’t know if I’ve done enough,” Cooper said “It would be a great thing to be invited to New York, so let’s hope.”
In a season full of records being broken, tonight’s game should have been no different for the Crimson Tide. Alabama’s offense led by Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin, managed to rack up 539 total yards for a combined with Auburn 1,175 total yards, setting a new Iron Bowl record. Also both teams put up a combined 99 points, setting yet another Iron Bowl record for total points.
Many people remember last year’s Iron bowl for the famous “kick six” play. For 365 days, the fans of blue and orange were able to hold their heads high and proud over the Alabama faithful. As for the players, the only thing on their minds of the players was redemption.
“I can’t lie. Everybody thought about last year,” Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest said.
This game looked at one minute to be a blowout for the Crimson Tide, itstead they found themselves in a shootout throughout most of the sixty minutes on the field.
The Auburn Tigers (8-4 ( 4-4 SEC)) managed not only to hang 36 points on the SEC’s top defense, but also finished the day with 636 total yards. Nick Marshall played light out’s in the field, finishing with a new school record of 456 passing yards and three touchdowns, all to Sammie Coates. Auburn could have won this game but had one minor flaw; the red zone. In seven trips to the red zone, Auburn had to settle for five field goal by Daniel Carlson. This game could have been very different if it had gone the other way.
“The name of the game was we got in the red zone and had to kick field goals,” Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said.
While 636 yards may sound like a lot, The Alabama defense did play tremendous throughout most of the game including a huge second half. While Marshall may of had 456 yard passing, in the third quartered he was forced out the pocket 12 times to find his open man, only making two of those throws. Marshall might have only been sacked once, but he was flustered for most of the second half, leading towards an Alabama victory.
“We you can get him out of his comfort zone, that’s just as important as getting a sack if not more important then getting a sack.” Jonathan Allen said. “If we can force the quarterback to do what he’s not supposed to do or make him uncomferatable that’s just as good.”
Blake Sims had a game he could probably forget. While he did throw four total touchdowns, he managed to throw three interceptions, all leading towards Auburn touchdowns. Sims seemed very pressured in the first and had to calm himself down to finishing the game. In the second half through, he pulled a complete turn-around finishing 10-12 with 186 yards and 2 touchdowns, one pass one run. Something changed in the second half and for Sims, it was a game breaker.
“I made some mistakes and I got down on myself,” Sims said. “I have a great set of teammates and coaching staff who picked me back up and gave me the opportunity to go back out there and play well.”
A player whose preformance seems to have been forgotten is that of running back TJ Yeldon. Yeldon, who could have possibly played his final game in Bryant Denny Stadium had 19 carries for 127 yards and two early touchdowns. Yeldon averaged 6.7 yards a carry and gave the Tide five of their 21 first downs. Counterpart Derrick Henry had an electrifying fourth quarter with a total of five carries for 72 yards and a touchdown to put the nail in Auburn’s coffin.
While earlier in the week this game had major implications on it, Alabama really only had respect to play for in this game thanks to an old foe. Thirty minutes prior to kickoff, the Ole Miss Rebels sealed their win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs, send the Crimson Tide to Atlanta for the SEC championship. The Tide now will face the Missouri Tigers to claim the title of SEC champions this upcoming saturday.
While Coach Saban came out with the win, he made sure his message was clear to his team before starting the second half.
“A lot of you have goals and aspirations, this is kind of a gut check as to what kind of heart you have, what kind of character you have, what kind of competitor you are,” coach Saban said. ” I believe in you, we can win this game and we will win this game.”
Alabama finished writing another chapter in the famous Iron Bowl book, and this one chapter won’t be forgotten anytime soon by all.
Cole Thompson is the Alabama beat-writer for WVUA-FM. Follow him on twitter at @ColeThompson32