When I decided to move from Missouri to take the sports editor job at the Opelika-Auburn News, Nov. 30 was certainly the first date I had circled on my calendar.
After all, it’s the Iron Bowl and my first taste of it without the CBS filter would be at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Being a college football fan my whole life and becoming a sports journalist, I’ve seen plenty of the Iron Bowl in my life and obviously its huge moments, but on Saturday, the chance to be there in person and witness that game was beyond any college football experience that I could’ve imagined.
Beginning with the Smoke Monday pick-six followed by Jaylen Waddle’s kick return for a touchdown, the tone for the craziness that ensued all evening was set in the second quarter.
The craziness spiked right before half … the key there being ‘right before.’ The officials put a second back on the clock and Auburn’s much-maligned kicker Anders Carlson boomed a 52-yard field goal through the uprights.
Nick Saban threw a tantrum on the sidelines about the play and that tantrum continued after the game; but the facts remain that Carlson made the biggest kick of his life and when the game was on the line, Alabama’s Joseph Bulovas doinked a 30-yarder off the left upright in front of the Tiger student section.
Seth Williams and Sal Cannella made spectacular catches and Shaun Shivers turned in the play of the game, knocking Xavier McKinney’s helmet off on the way to the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
As Auburn was trying run out the clock, Saban had another tantrum moment. Auburn was getting creative to find a way to get Waddle off the field, but instead Waddle was still on the field and it worked out for the Tigers.
To Saban’s dismay, the officials blew the whistle and called Alabama for 12 men on the field. Two kneel-downs by Nix later and the fans were allowed to flood the field at Jordan-Hare.
There have been plenty of wacky moments in the history of the Iron Bowl, but there has never been more wackiness in a single game than descended on Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday evening.
The goats all season for Auburn fans became the heroes with Nix and Carlson before the ultimate whipping boy for Tiger social media came through big with one of his mad-scientist formations that finally broke Saban and the Tide.
The 2019 Iron Bowl will have many heroes, but in the end it is Gus Malzahn who is the biggest winner from this game. As he enjoys his waffles on Saturday night at the neighborhood Waffle House, the Tigers’ head coach can finally let loose a syrupy grin.