Monday, November 22, 2010
Dissecting the Iron Bowl: What a Win/Loss Will Mean for Alabama
Before I rant about how great the Iron Bowl is compared to other rivalry games, examine this fact.
Last year, Alabama was undefeated and barely escaped Auburn with a win. The Tide continued to capture a national championship as well as a Heisman trophy. This year, Auburn is in the position to capture a national championship as well as a Heisman trophy.
In the span of a year, it is possible that the defending national champion will be eclipsed in the personal and team hardware race by none other than their hated rival.
Rightfully so, if all stands well with Cam Newton, Auburn has taken advantage of a star player and a mediocre SEC schedule.
Auburn will have more to achieve even with a loss to Alabama, but what is the unfamiliar scenario with Alabama and how will it unfold?
If Alabama Wins
1. It Will Salvage the Season
Five years ago, a win against Auburn would have meant everything. Greater reward produces greater expectations over the years as it is now expected that Alabama beat Auburn.
In the beginning of the 00s, beating Auburn would have been the highlight of any season. Now, it takes a back seat to conference and national championship implications.
With the tough conference schedule that Alabama possessed, many whom were not fans of the Tide believed that they would lose at least two games. Alabama has followed that path after two tough losses on the road. Even though this Alabama team has crossed a more treacherous path than arguably any team in the country, two losses for a Nick Saban Alabama team is considered by most to be a ‘failure.’
What is the cure? The cure lies in the mindset of Alabama’s underdog years. Success lies in destroying the national title hopes and dreams of that rival.
2. It Will Prove Everything Thought About Auburn
Where do I even begin? They rely solely on their quarterback. They have the easiest schedule of any SEC team. Have they even
played in a tough environment?
Shut down Cam Newton; win the football game. The simple philosophy has been so hard to execute by other teams. The zone-read, option, play-action offense has left defenses bewildered and sloppy. Other players are strengthened through the focus put of Cam Newton, and the only teams who kept it close played Auburn before they became an offensive dynamo or succumbed to a shootout.
They have the easiest schedule of any SEC team. This one should go without argument. The only road tests that Auburn has faced have been Mississippi State, Kentucky, and Ole Miss. They barely squeaked out of Starkville and Lexington by three points in each, and the game in Oxford was not the best display of Auburn’s defense.
At home, they won the game against South Caroline through a dropped Alshon Jeffery reception in the endzone. Clemson was
forced to attempt two kicks in overtime resulting in a missed second attempt. Arkansas put up 43 on the back of Ryan Mallet’s understudy, LSU chose one game to not pull a miracle, and Georgia kept it close until midway through the fourth quarter.
The toughest venue Auburn has visited would be Davis Wade Stadium which holds a whopping 55,082 people and cowbells. I was at that game, and the cowbells were loud. There is no possible way that they can make up the extra 50,000 screaming fans in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
All in all, Alabama played Arkansas, South Carolina, and LSU on the road. Combine that with ranked Florida and Mississippi State at home, and a disastrous schedule presented itself.
Bottom line: This game proves Auburn’s legitimacy.
Kirk Herbstreit is still a football genius for picking an unranked Auburn team to reach the SEC Championship game.
With all of Auburn’s close games this year, maybe Gene Chizik should be renamed ‘The Mad Half-Sleeve-Vest UnderArmour Design Wearer.’ Let me think on that.
Oh yeah, Alabama won. Roll Tide.
If Alabama Loses
1. The Season is a Failure
As previously mentioned, the season will be salvaged with a win. The opposite is the truth for a loss. Alabama desperately needs the win to keep its legitimacy among the top teams in the land. Two losses is hard enough for the Alabama faithful, but three will honestly have the feeling of the Mike Shula years.
To have your rival as the number one team in the conference is one thing, but for unranked Auburn to have risen from the ashes on the shoulders of a prodigal cheat , liar, good-for-nothing, football legend is another thing.
The bragging rights were in the Crimson Tide chokehold, and now, they are only distant mirages.
2. Cam Newton, disbarring NCAA diversion, will win the Heisman
A win against Alabama is honestly the icing on the cake for a rather lackadaisical second-half Heisman run for Cam Newton. Despite the truth allegations, the race has been in the clutches of Newton for a considerable time.
Auburn, or should I say Newton, will be facing the third best defense in the nation against Alabama which only allows 12.8 points per game and a measly 6.5 points at home. Behind the nation’s third best rush offense, Auburn will be pitting power against power, and if Newton prevails, they might as well give him the Heisman trophy.
Interesting fact is that noise level may affect Newton’s play due to limited hostile environments faced during the year. Auburn staff denies that suggestion due to an offense run completely on hand motions. However, expect some confusion to take place.
Attention drunken Auburn fans: Do not go near the Bear Bryant statue if Auburn wins. You thought a Georgia fan trying to set fire to Toomer’s Corner was a nightmare.
Watch out for South Carolina. They have possibly a better shot of knocking Auburn off of their pedestal. Experience against the Auburn offense and an explosive offense of their own is a scary sight.
I would not be surprised if some of Alabama’s talent reconsiders going into the NFL draft.
It is getting closer and closer to, arguably, the biggest Iron Bowl in the history of Iron Bowls.
So, get ready to don your team’s gear, not speak to your girlfriend, parents, or even friends, and revel in the most fantastic rivalry of all time.