We continue the Countdown to Kickoff at 71 days until Auburn and Washington meet in Atlanta. Today, enjoy some of the best from Auburn’s best as we go back to 1983.
It happened pretty fast. Pat Dye got hired to be Auburn’s head football coach, proclaimed that it would take “60 minutes” to beat Alabama, and ended Alabama’s nine-year run in his second attempt. Bear Bryant’s final Iron Bowl would be a watershed moment for the Tigers, ushering in the modern era where, despite recent years, Auburn still holds an advantage over the Tide in the series.
In 1982, a freshman running back from Bessemer named Bo Jackson gave Auburn its first win over Alabama since 1972 with his leap over the top of the Alabama wall on fourth and goal late at Legion Field. Fast forward a year later, and Auburn was #3 in the country with a 9-1 record heading into the Iron Bowl, and Jackson was putting together a magnificent sophomore season, averaging 7.7 yards per carry.
In the Iron Bowl, Alabama hung tough, but Jackson opened the scoring with a dazzling cutback touchdown in the second quarter before the weather rolled in. With a tornado warning threatening Birmingham, and Alabama threatening Auburn’s SEC Championship hopes, Jackson put the final nail down late with this 71-yard explosion.
The way Keith Jackson described the action is telling. He doesn’t even really get excited, which means this was merely yet another moment in a string of legend-builders that Bo Jackson pumped out time and time again.
Auburn beat Alabama 23-20 to build an actual winning streak (two games!) and win the SEC. The Tigers would then take down Michigan in the Sugar Bowl and think that they were national champions for one brief shining moment before Miami jumped them in the polls after beating Nebraska in a home field bowl game.