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Plays and Players of the Game: Iron Bowl

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Win or lose, players made some plays.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I did not expect Auburn to win this game, so I'm glad they fought hard, played well, and kept it close. The refs were too much this time, and I was happy that Muschamp reacted the way he did because he was right. Looking to the future, better QB and WR play are the keys for this team to be successful, and I think that's all within reach. Players of the Game were the entire defense, who played lights out, while being held on every play. Play of the Game has to go to Jason Smith for that crazy TD.

See what the C&M staffers had to say and leave us your thoughts in the comments.

Bobby Barkley

I came into work this morning, and a coworker greeted me to say, "Sorry to see your team didn't do too well this weekend." To which I replied, "Which one? Fantasy team?"

I am very proud of how our guys played Saturday. That may not be the best overall Alabama team Nick Saban's ever had, but if that's the best defense he's ever had, then maybe we should reexamine how the word "best" works. Jovon and Peyton (mostly Jovon) gashed that defense. I mean, we ran it right at them. I loved that. Problems came when Avery Young went down and Jovon saw less playing time (have we figured out this season-long mystery yet?).

He wasn't perfect by any stretch, and maybe not even great, but I thought JJ did well. There were a couple of passes that looked awful, but our WR's have made him look worse for a few weeks now. Wide receiver development is going to be crucial in the next several months. Whether that comes with a shift in coaching personnel is yet to be seen. Bottom line: consistent QB play gets our offense churning more efficiently and earns us a win against the 2nd-ranked team in the country. 

Our defense played lights out. Derrick Henry is going to win the Heisman, but for the first half, he sure didn't look Heisman worthy. I wish we'd gotten a harder lick on Jake Coker the first time he scrambled against our linebackers, and those missed tackles/Countess' dropped pick-six will haunt me for the next year, but given that Carl Lawson doesn't own an Iron Bowl jersey that's not completely shredded, I'm still impressed. 

The sequence of events that got us 30 penalty yards was absolutely hot garbage. Tom Ritter might get some green from Saban and the SEC, but he's gonna get a lump of coal in his stocking next month. You're looking at one of Auburn's most inconsistent teams going toe-to-toe with the likely CFB Playoff champion for 3 quarters and scaring the crap out of Nick Saban and Bama fans (and the SEC, for that matter) until Tom Ritter decides to redefine justice. 

Two years in a row that Auburn has more than hung around with a dominant Alabama team when we weren't supposed to. You can sense that we're getting close. We're in their heads. 

Person of the Game goes to Will Muschamp. I'll ride or die with that man until the cows come home. It's about time somebody got pissed off on our sideline. 

I've got a million other thoughts, but the only one that matters is how proud I am of my team, and how proud I am to be an Auburn fan. See y'all in Birmingham. War Damn Eagle, always.

AU_Jonesy

I hate everything. Bama fans continue to be the worst

Peggy

Handwank dot GIF 

[In response to lackluster WR play] Perhaps due to the fact that we have a quarterbacks coach coaching wide receivers? I love having DCraig on the staff but all those stars are worth nothing if we don't develop the talent.

Dusty

Tom Ritter peut aller se faire foutre. Please excuse my French.

If Countess gets that pick, it's a different game. Same could be said for their dropped TD pass. I thought JJ played well, WRs have got to get better. Too many drops in crucial situations and on pretty good throws.

Stephen

For three quarters we did what we had to do to stay in the game. We held Bama to field goals when they could have had touchdowns. We made them drive the field and earn every yard. Until Avery Young got hurt, we were getting good push against the best defensive line in America. Except for that one bomb to Smith, we weren't able to follow that up with deep and mid range passes like we did last year. Our line didn't give Johnson time, Johnson wasn't accurate when he got it off, and our receivers couldn't catch it even when the passes were good. 

Countess dropped a pick 6 in a play that turned out to be a ten point swing as Bama kicked a field goal. Auburn doesn't go for it on fourth and half a yard when the offense was humming. Auburn failed to punch it in on early drives and settled for field goals. Auburn missed two or three easy sacks. Auburn gave up 30 yards in dead ball penalties on a single play. Those are breaks you need to catch to beat a great team and we just didn't do it. 

But Malzahn continues to be a bad matchup for Saban. Alabama's best team of the last three years was sweating bullets against Malzahn's worst. We're still not scared of them and it's just 365 days until we get after their ass again.

Dr. Z

With any kind of QB play Auburn wins that game, and if Countess handles that pick 6, it's a different game.  All in all it was what I expected.  They were who we thought they were.  And we let em off the hook.

Gabe

Like all but one game this year we had our chances.  The potential pick six from Blake Countess would have totally changed the game but that has been the story of our season...we weren't able to make the big play.  The non-call on the hold of Carl Lawson was so ridiculous I can't even justify how it could have been missed.  Will Muschamp should have blown up on the refs for that missed call but when Tom Ritter calls an Iron Bowl you get what you get.

If we can improve our quarterback play and get consistent play from our wide receivers as well we can have a great year next year.  Will Muschamp is doing what we brought him in to do and I'm looking forward to seeing our defense play next year.  I hope I can say the same about our offense.

Walt

I've already given my thoughts on the game, so I'll just stick with the "players and plays." The player of the game for me was Rudy Ford. He was asked to come up to the line and take on Derrick Henry directly (even after the Fournette stuff) and he made a number of stops of Henry right at the line. Ford has been one of the highlights of the defense over the last two seasons, in spite of what some trolls (Scarbs) take to Twitter saying.

Play of the game... I'm going to go with the dropped pick-6. If Countess takes that to the house, it pumps the defense and the crowd up. Auburn possibly goes into halftime with a lead and an energized Jordan-Hare Stadium. Would it have made the difference? No idea. It was an unbelievably big play for that moment, though.