Auburn fell in quadruple overtime to Alabama 24-22, and let a huge victory slip away in the process. There’s a ton to unpack here, so let’s start with our immediate thoughts.
In a game where our players fought valiantly it came down to coaching. Throwing the ball on 3rd down under 5 minutes. Throwing on first down after your defense gets an INT. I’ll forgive Tank for not sliding. I don’t forgive calling those passes with a 1 legged QB.
Hats off to the kids for playing their tails off. That defense deserved a better fate for how well they played to put themselves in a position to win that game. They just got asked to hold one too many times as the defense was gassed. Roger McCreary played the game of his life and deserves all the praise for his efforts today. Not going for 2 at the end of the first OT is what will haunt me the most from this game. And the new OT rules are stupid and should be fired into the sun.
This one hurts like crazy, but only because we know that we let this game slip away. Auburn has always gotten up for the Iron Bowl, and this year was an extreme version. In years past, the Tigers have taken average teams and hung around for 2.5 quarters, but this time was different. We controlled the game for roughly 3.5 quarters, leading until the final :35.
You can blame a littany of different things for this game slipping away, but Mike Bobo’s play-calling allowed the clock to stay stopped more times than we needed, and Tank Bigsby’s run out of bounds also allowed Bama to save precious seconds. Auburn’s defense played the best game its’ played in years, and deserved to get a monumental victory.
In the end, this Alabama team is a shell of the one that’s won titles, and I fully expect them to get whacked by Georgia next week (if we can do what we did to their soft offensive line, Georgia will feast), and I can’t help but think what happens if we have a healthy Bo Nix for this game. So many what-ifs will haunt us for the next year, and that’s alright. Thus is the life of an Auburn fan.
this is what we get for not running the damn ball— joshdub (@joshdub_) November 27, 2021
Welp. I can’t pretend that this one didn’t hurt any more than just about any other Auburn loss in recent memory. There’s nothing else to define this game other than saying that we let them off the hook. During Auburn’s 4-game losing streak, the Tigers led by double digits in three of them, and the coaches couldn’t put the players in the right positions to hold on. There were no adjustments.
The defense played the best game it’s had in the last decade for 59 minutes, and shouldn’t have even had that last touchdown drive by Alabama hung on their necks. Derek Mason called a whale of a game, even if he did get a little shy with the blitzes later on and gave Bryce Young more time to throw the ball. You can’t ask for more than 10 points allowed in regulation to Alabama, with 7 sacks and back to back fourth down stops in the fourth quarter.
This one is on Mike Bobo, and Bryan Harsin by extension. Even with the refs not calling two obvious facemasks on Tank Bigsby (including a clear one on the run where he was dragged out of bounds), Auburn should have been able to melt the clock without having to resort to getting the benefit of penalties. You can’t throw the ball when you know you can make Alabama either burn a timeout or let 40 seconds tick off the clock. You also can’t call the slowest freaking draw play in recorded history for a 3rd and 2 play when a first down ices the game, only to see it get blown up for a loss. By all accounts, Tank running out of bounds shouldn’t have mattered, but when you try to run the whole offense with a hobbled quarterback, that’s what you get.
I was surprised that Auburn was able to take it to four overtimes, quite honestly, since we had an injured quarterback and a backup kicker, yet we got a touchdown on a fantastic strike in the first period, a 49-yard field goal in the second overtime, and the two-point conversion play in the third period. To those of you saying that Harsin should’ve used the Schenker throwback for the win in the first overtime, you’re right, but forget about it, it never should’ve gotten there and it’s a pointless argument that deflects from everything leading up to what actually caused the loss.
This coaching staff got puckered buttholes and it bled through to the team. Special teams was fantastic, defense was fantastic, and the offense did enough, with T.J. Finley playing a very good and safe game (his only turnover was on a tipped ball) and the run game getting just enough to win. In the end, Auburn got almost all of the breaks up until the fourth quarter (unheard of against Alabama), and couldn’t secure the win. Stopping the Tide on fourth down with two minutes to go ought to give you the victory 99.9999999 percent of the time, and we saw the infinitesimal time that it didn’t turn out that way yesterday.
Now, enough on what depresses me, but there’s so much to unravel from this game. Now Alabama goes on to the SEC Championship, where you can get bet Georgia is absolutely foaming at the mouth to hurl that monkey off of their backs. After what they saw from the Auburn defense that gave up 40 unanswered to Mississippi State, they have to like their odds.
And with the coaching churn already starting the day after the regular season ends, things are actually looking up for Auburn. Billy Napier goes to Florida, which can only be an improvement over Dan Mullen, and Lincoln Riley goes to USC. As far as hurting Auburn’s two biggest rivals, the problem in recent years is that there’s been an absolute vacuum in the SEC East and the West Coast. Where have Florida and Tennessee been? Sure, the Gators have gotten to Atlanta a few times, and they had the stretch in the late 00s under Meyer that was great, but over the last decade they haven’t been able to control the talent that they used to, and Georgia’s been gobbling it up. If Florida bucks up, it takes Georgia down a peg. Tennessee needs to do work, too, but they looked better this season.
As for the West Coast, maybe Riley convinces kids like Bryce Young, Najee Harris, Tua, and the other Alabama commits from out West to stay home rather than come all the way across the country. If Napier can recruit Florida better, he can convince some of those receivers like Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley (who he recruited to Bama), Jerry Jeudy (who he recruited to Bama) to stay in-state and play for the Gators.
At this point, watching Florida get big again would be great. Auburn hardly ever plays them, and my attitude is like Kevin Bacon in Tremors. I don’t care what they’re doing, long as they’re doing it way over there.
For Auburn, the next steps are simple, if not the easiest in the world. You have to have a Merry Flipmas in the recruiting world, getting some serious guys committed elsewhere (LSU, Florida, etc.) and grabbing a name or two from top recruits out there. 2022 is going to be rough, bar none, based on the number of seniors that we’re losing (think 2010 to 2011 in that regard), and so we have to add a hugely talented base this year to capitalize on some of the great home atmospheres we had.
Follow that up with a year where you show fight in 2022, snag another great class for the 2023 kids, and then make some moves. Bryan Harsin came into a tough situation with what Gus left him, and he may end up being the type of guy to build talent and never get to use it, but it’s necessary for the immediate future of the program that he does his best work over the next 10 weeks.
War Eagle, let’s enjoy the Mayo Bowl or something.