The further and further we get into the 21st century, it gets more difficult to rationalize that Auburn hasn’t always had the wonderful backdrop of Jordan-Hare Stadium to help out during the Iron Bowl.
We all know that the first time that the rivalry was played in Auburn, where the Tigers had their first ever true home field advantage, was 1989 after quite the power struggle. Pat Dye eventually used his clout and the death of Bear Bryant several years earlier to move Auburn’s home game in the series from Legion Field to Jordan-Hare. After one more game with the Tigers “hosting” the Tide in Birmingham in 1991, every single odd year Iron Bowl has been played inside the hostile confines of Jordan-Hare.
It’s difficult to comprehend, but the unjust memories of having to play in front of a decidedly partial and unfavorable crowd for your own home game are dwindling. There are fewer and fewer Auburn fans who remember having to go to Legion Field for what was officially a “50-50 split” that never amounted to an orange and blue majority in the stands. Even those who experienced it have 30 years of home Iron Bowls to fall back on now, and those games have produced some of the most memorable moments in series history.
How has the home site impacted the game? Well, Auburn has amassed a 10-5 record against Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium since 1989, and those Tide teams averaged 9.6 wins per year.
What’s allowed the Tigers to play so well at home against essentially a double-digit team on average? You could identify perhaps the most tilted home field advantage in college football when an archrival comes to town. When Alabama enters, Jordan-Hare ramps up to a fever pitch and shows maybe the toughest atmosphere in the country.
That kind of a home crowd has kindled some magic, and provided what we like to call the “Hariest Moments” in the rivalry’s history. Let’s run those down and see what the biggest ones were throughout the relatively short but impactful time that Alabama has had to pee their way into the Loveliest Village.
1989 - Paper Shakers and Barn Cheatin’!
You know sometimes there’s just a game that you know one side has absolutely no way of winning? That was the original JHS Iron Bowl, where the Tigers welcomed Alabama to the Plains for the very first time. The Tide were on the hunt for a national title, looking to finish out an undefeated regular season and face off against Miami for the championship in the Sugar Bowl.
Simply put, the entire day set the stage for what was to come over the years, but Auburn saw true home field advantage take hold right off the bat. After a long completion from Reggie Slack to Alexander Wright, the Tigers moved down to a goal-to-go situation, where James Joseph leapt over the pile into the end zone for the first score of the day. ONLY AUBURN HAD 12 MEN ON THE FIELD GAWD BARN CHEATIN’!!! The refs didn’t notice, and the Tigers won 30-20, ending Bama’s perfect season and claiming a share of their third straight SEC championship.
1993 - Nix to Sanders
So, over the years Auburn has had hilarious luck taking on backup quarterbacks. It’s become a bit of a meme whenever the Tigers have to face an opponent’s backup, we expect that kid to light us up for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. However, maybe we’re still just reaping the blowback from the original backup quarterback moment.
At 10-0, Auburn entered the Iron Bowl seeking a perfect season in Terry Bowden’s first year, and things were looking bleak as the Tigers trailed 14-5 in the third quarter. On a third down in Tide territory, starting quarterback Stan White got buckled up and injured his knee, so backup Patrick Nix had to come off the bench cold on 4th and a mile.
I’ll wager a bet that none of that occurs if this game is being played in Birmingham, and the Tigers would grab a field goal shortly thereafter to take a 15-14 lead. In the fourth quarter a James Bostic 70-yard meandering scamper to cap the game would give the Tigers a 22-14 win and the perfect 11-0 season.
1995 - Yes, Yes, Yes, Auburn YES!
First of all, and ignoring any comments from later years, this intro still sticks in my mind and when you add in the absolutely perfect voice of Ron Franklin, it doesn’t get any better.
As for the game itself, it was the third time Alabama would play at Jordan-Hare. In a back and forth affair, Auburn found itself leading 31-27 in the final minute. Alabama drove down deep into Auburn’s end, and with just :35 to play, had a 1st and 10 throwing for the end zone and the win. On first down, Fat Freddie Kitchens threw for the back of the end zone and Curtis Brown, who hauled in the pass but didn’t corral it until he was just out of bounds. OR DID HE??
Use this impossibly small image to deduce whether or not Brown actually held onto the ball inbounds. Tuscaloosa bars have plastered this picture over the cash register (looking at you, Egan’s) as proof that the Tide were swindled. Either way, Barn Cheatin’ and Jordan-Hare provided the magic with a fantastic Jim Fyffe final call.
1997 - FUMBLING AWAY THE SPOILER ROLE
Freddie Kitchens didn’t have the best time at Jordan-Hare Stadium as the Alabama starting quarterback, but 1997 saw the culmination of the stadium’s best voodoo to bring down two future NFL head coaches on one cataclysmic moment.
Auburn came into the game at 8-2, and in position for the SEC West title, their first since the divisions split. Alabama was bad under Mike Dubose, yet somehow led Auburn 17-15 late in the fourth quarter. With the ball, the Tide just had to run out the clock with less than a minute to play, but future Super Bowl champion Bruce Arians called a really bizarre screen pass for future Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, who hit Ed Scissum on the throw. Scissum was clipped by Martavious Houston, and flailed wildly, losing the ball in the process. The Tigers recovered in field goal range and Jarrett Holmes hit the game-winner to send the Tigers to Atlanta moments later.
2003 - GO CRAZY, CADILLAC!
Look, these days Tommy Tuberville may enjoy being under the thumb of bank presidents and money men, but back then if you were going to take a private jet to supplant him, it would result in a rivalry win for Auburn. Super JHS energy with this play, Rod’s first great call and his best until the Miracle at Jordan-Hare.
2005 - HONK IF YOU SACKED BRODIE
This was just so representative of the entirety of the early 2000s for Alabama football. They had a kicker who won them two games earlier that year with extra point length kicks, so they nicknamed him “Money”, and they’d completed a pass on the opening play of every game that year as well. Naturally, Auburn would figure out they’d need to play the pass, and it worked to perfection. In one of the more dominating displays, the Tigers sacked Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle 11 times and built a 28-7 halftime lead. When your victory spawns bumper stickers, you know that it was fantastic.
Alabama was ranked as high as third in the country before they lost to LSU the week before this game, and Auburn just dropped them even further in the rankings with this embarrassment. It was the kind of performance that only a frothy Jordan-Hare Stadium can work up, and the defense just compounded sack after sack after sack in this one-sided victory.
2011 - FLASHBACKS
The final score doesn’t indicate this at all, and the fact that it didn’t come to fruition has erased it from everyone’s mind, but Bama fans were puckered for a few minutes during this game.
After giving up the 24-0 lead in Tuscaloosa the year before, Alabama started the 2011 Iron Bowl in similar fashion. Auburn’s only success in the first half came on a strip sack and fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown. At halftime, it was 24-7 Alabama, just like 2010. And out of the intermission, Auburn struck immediately with a kickoff return touchdown from Onterrio McCalebb to cut the lead to 24-14. That was the exact blueprint from the Camback with the touchdown in the first minute of the second half, and I can guarantee you that every single Bama fan in the stadium thought “here we go again.”
It didn’t happen, but for a moment we were giving them the true fear of God with a decidedly terrible team.
2013 - YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT IT IS, IF YOU DON’T YOU SHOULD BY NOW
First of all, Barn Cheatin’. We’ve covered this game ad nauseum, but the back and forth nature of what I personally call the greatest game in college football history only led up to the wild finish. On the game-tying drive for Auburn, the Tigers just didn’t seem hurried, even though the drive started with just two minutes flat left on the clock. Instead of going to the air, Gus Malzahn called run after run, and Tre Mason carried the ball six consecutive times before the pop pass from Nick Marshall to Sammie Coates. AUBURN HAD AN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN DOWNFIELD —
— but nobody cared, and the Tigers tied the game up before ultimate karma got Nick Saban. He asked for it. He literally asked for that extra second, and lost everything on one play. In the end, what may have actually been the true start of #AlabamaKickers was truly Jordan-Hare magic reaching into a Polish orphanage to set in motion a long line of hilarity.
2015 - A BRIEF THRILL
If we didn’t have to play Jeremy Johnson in this game, we might have a shot, but Jason Smith tried his hardest to get the Tigers even against a Derrick Henry battering ram offense.
We didn’t win, but Will Muschamp did a pretty good job until his defense just wore down.
2017 - YOU GOT ROLLED BY GUS
I look back at this game and I can’t even really find a singular moment to highlight other than the entire game. Everyone in that stadium knew that Alabama was going to lose, and that Auburn was unbeatable that day. After what happened to Georgia two weeks prior, Bama came in and didn’t stand a chance. From the Kerryon Johnson jump pass touchdown to the way that the Tiger defense just dominated all day, this game might have been the most similar to 1989 that we’ve seen yet. Just a wild cathartic day on the Plains.
2019 - YOU GOT TRICKED BY A PUNTER. A PUNTER.
Before we dive into the very end, where Gus Malzahn tricked Nick Saban with a punter, we have to recount the entirety of the wildness that encompassed the 2019 Iron Bowl. There were like 19 wild moments in this game, and they were all fantastic.
- Auburn picked off two Mac Jones passes, returning both for touchdowns. The Zakoby McClain 100-yard pick six is a legendary play that cemented him in James Jones’ top three favorite players of all-time.
- Gus Malzahn successfully Saban-ed, and lobbied for an extra second at the end of the first half to try a super long field goal. He got the second, and Anders Carlson banged home the kick that would prove to be the difference in the end of a 48-45 victory.
- Shaun Shivers ruined Xavier McKinney.
- Speaking of field goals, the accursed South goal posts struck Alabama again. Late in the game, Alabama drove for what could either be a tying or a winning score. You’d think a field goal barely more than an extra point would be a snap, right?
- And then the punter. Most of the videos don’t even show it, and the CBS announcers thought that Auburn somehow drew Bama offsides, but in the stadium we all knew it. From my viewpoint on the alumni side, we were even with Jaylen Waddle trying to sprint off the field when they realized that Auburn wasn’t lining up in punt formation. It was pretty clear that Alabama had 12 men, and it was immediately evident that Gus had fooled Nick Saban. I thought this one would be the one to bring on the burst forehead blood vessel, but alas.
What will happen tomorrow? We’ll find out. War Eagle!