We’ve done this for the past couple of SEC games (and I would’ve done it for ULM too, but I didn’t feel like writing a dissertation on going to overtime with the Warhawks in 2012), and so it’s time to remember the times we had our hearts ripped out (or slowly carved out) by Alabama in the Iron Bowl. It’s going to hurt, but it’s necessary for the healing process. Away we go.
1948 - Alabama 55, Auburn 0
The first game after 41 years apart — Alabama was pretty good and we were pretty not. There are probably few alive that actually remember this game, but we got whipped and Alabama set the tone for the next couple of decades in this rivalry.
1967 - Alabama 7, Auburn 3
Oh no, baby, what is you doing? Kenny Stabler got a block in the back and sprung a long touchdown for the “Run in the Mud” to beat Auburn in a sloppy, rainy affair in what was clearly Auburn’s “home” year at Legion Field. Man, why didn’t we ever seem to have a true home field advantage? I couldn’t possibly ever figure it out. Thankfully, we won the next three in the series. I wasn’t around, but that must have been an interesting time in the state.
1971 - Alabama 31, Auburn 7
Jeez, what a bittersweet way to head into the offseason, even with Pat Sullivan getting the Heisman Trophy not long after. 1971 shaped up fantastically, with the Tigers heading into the Iron Bowl undefeated and riding high after whipping Georgia at their place. The Tide defense swallowed up our beloved quarterback all day long, and Johnny Musso ran wild in ruining what was a perfect season to that point. It didn’t help that Oklahoma got us in the Sugar Bowl at the new year, either, but Bama started the decline.
1981 - Alabama 28, Auburn 17
This one felt akin to 2009. A new coach on the Plains against a legend, and we just didn’t have enough in the tank. It was Bear Bryant’s 315th victory, pushing him past Amos Alonzo Stagg for the most wins ever. Of course it would come against Auburn, and of course we’d have to sit around and watch the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the day. We sent him out on a rail the next year, though.
1984 - Alabama 17, Auburn 15
For a year in which we started ranked first in the country, this one sure was a stinker. Losing to Miami and Texas to start the year, and then ending up with a fairly injured Bo Jackson for much of the season sure didn’t make us look good, and the year served as one of our first pieces of evidence that we just don’t play well as frontrunners.
Long story short, we went with the toss to the boundary on 4th and goal inside the one-yard line, and Bo Jackson went the wrong way when he was supposed to block for Brent Fullwood. Agonizing. It broke a two-game winning streak in the series as well, and we’d only get our hearts ripped out even more the next year.
1985 - Alabama 25, Auburn 23
It really didn’t help that when I opened that video on Youtube, it had a Larry Culpepper ad preceding it. Good God.
Like 1971, we had a Heisman contender, and Alabama put a seriously sour taste in our mouths heading into what should’ve been a completely joyous occasion. For one, Mike Shula completes a pass to the near sideline where the receiver “got out of bounds”. Okay. Not the first generous spot Alabama’s ever gotten. The kick was gutsy, and now we have to listen to Tiffin Motorhomes ads (proud supporters of Auburn ath-uh-let-iks).
1994 - Alabama 21, Auburn 14
“An inch short”... if that. We know Frank Sanders had the first down. That’s all there really is to it. I don’t really hate Gene Stallings, because I think he’s the only honest guy Alabama’s had running the show, but he sure knew how to beat us. He was just a good coach. I really became an Auburn fan the next season (I guess at five years old there wasn’t enough understanding of the game yet), and so this loss didn’t resonate with me as much. It still ended our unbeaten streak and showed the first real cracks in the armor of the Bowden lore.
1996 - Alabama 24, Auburn 23
Now this one, I remember hurting. We came back from a huge deficit and let it slip away in the end. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s letting the folk heroes of another school beat you. You know’s a true folk hero? Country Ham Freddie Kitchens. The most unathletic guy that’s suited up for a football team short of Jared Lorenzen. Somehow he scrambled for key yardage late, and found Dennis Riddle on the swing pass for a touchdown. There was that Terry Bowden defense, slow and uninspired, letting guys run right around them into the end zone for game-winning touchdowns.
2001 - Alabama 31, Auburn 7
Okay, what the hell was this one? Carnell Williams dazzled the crowd on a few early carries before breaking his collarbone, and that was it. Seriously, our entire faith hung on that freshman running back, and when he was done, so were we. Alabama was a bad team that year, and we played uninspired, sloppy football in letting them score an upset win.
I remember watching this with my dad, and I can’t recall the exact players who were involved, but we broke a long run late when it was all but over. Whoever had the ball looked at his blocker as if to ask “should I keep going?” and the blocker seemed to kind of shrug and say “yeah, I guess.” It was that kind of game.
2008 - Alabama 36, Auburn 0
It’s nice that I got to skip ahead seven years before we come to another Alabama win, but this one was really inevitable. After Tuberville had won six straight, we were in the midst of another year during which we started fairly highly-ranked, and plummeted thanks to the Tony Franklin Experience. Sitting at 5-6 heading into the Iron Bowl, in Tuscaloosa, in the rain (seriously is it never nice in that town?), against the undefeated and #1 team in the country, I didn’t think we had much of a chance.
On the way to the stadium, a little girl laughed in my face and stomped on an Auburn shaker on the ground. Then sitting in the stands, we got to watch a gutsy effort for thirty minutes as the Tigers fell behind only 10-0 at halftime. Poor Morgan Hull hit a field goal but Nick Saban nullified it with a timeout and the second attempt was blocked. Then they threw for the end zone up 29-0 in the fourth quarter with a cocky little soulless ginger named Greg McElroy. It was a giant party in Tuscaloosa, and a terrible time for us. Tommy Tuberville was fired not long after that loss.
2009 - Alabama 26, Auburn 21
Pick plays, pick plays, pick plays. Nick Saban’s been known to push the envelope as far as the rules go, and that’s not just in the recruiting game. We saw it firsthand with Julio Jones running crossing patterns and getting open thanks to rub routes of questionable legality.
Auburn got up in this game thanks to some huge big plays — seriously, it’s hard to remember a more electric atmosphere than when we hit the reverse to Terrell Zachery, then the onside kick, then the pump fake to Adams, and 14-0 two drives in.
Of course, Alabama came back a little bit at a time, and in the opposite fortune of our losses to them in 1971 and 1985, we shut down Mark Ingram completely and he won the Heisman a couple weeks later.
After Roy Upchurch scored the game-winner on the pass in the flat, I thought we had a shot with the Hail Mary, but we didn’t get the fortunate call like Mississippi State did a couple weeks ago. To a man, every Auburn fan I spoke to after this game said they “felt pretty good” about losing to Alabama that way. I admit, I did too.
Losing to Alabama should never feel good. Shame on us.
2012 - Alabama 49, Auburn 0
We literally shouldn’t have shown up for this one. There was no fight in the team at this point and we’d just gotten housed by Georgia. Then we get to listen to Verne and Gary absolutely slobber all over everything Alabama did that day.
Watching TJ Yeldon do anything should make your blood boil. Honesty and truthfulness are mentioned in the third line of the Auburn Creed, and his antics the previous winter have not reaped him the cosmic karma he deserves.
For the second straight coach, a shutout loss in Tuscaloosa spelled the end. This time it was Chizik, the man who’d won us a national championship. Damn.
2014 - Alabama 55, Auburn 44
Somehow, CBS screwed up, taking Alabama too many times that year, so ESPN ended up with a nighttime Iron Bowl in the Kick Six rematch with Brent Musberger on the call. For what seemed like the tenth time that year, we fumbled on the opening play of the game, and fell behind. Then we started to come back.
Nick Marshall pulled a Ben Leard and went nuts through the air, as Sammie Coates went for more than 200 yards. However, our defense decided that COVERING AMARI COOPER LIKE HE WAS A REGULAR RECEIVER WAS ACCEPTABLE WHAT THE HELL. We also got to have our faces rubbed in it by early-celebratin’ Lane Kiffin, and watch our defense crumble down the stretch. We put up over 600 yards and 44 points on Alabama, and lost. Fireable offenses all around. I thought afterward if that was our retribution for the Kick Six, then I was fine with it, but we haven’t beaten them since.
It’s time. Watch these videos and remember the bad times. We’ll reverse it Saturday with cleansed wounds and scars that have healed stronger than the skin they replace.
War Eagle, always.