*Note: This is from last year but much of it rings true this year, too, except instead of Alabama being #2 and Auburn being 3-8 on the season, we’re looking at #1 vs #4. War Eagle!
I was just six months old when the underdog Auburn Tigers defeated the #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the famous “Punt Bama Punt” game of 1972, yet I remember it as if was yesterday. Ok, perhaps that is a little far-fetched but I do remember most of the games between the Tigers and the Tide known simply as the “Iron Bowl.”
I’m an Auburn man, albeit by way of Auburn University at Montgomery; however, my money went to and my grades came from Samford Hall on the main campus. So, like I said, I’m an Auburn man.
The fact that I’m an Auburn man and fan defies all logic. My mom, dad, and brother were all Alabama fans. After the “Punt Bama Punt” game, the Tide went on to whip the Tigers for the next nine consecutive years, winning a few national championships along the way. The streak was snapped in 1982 when a young man named “Bo” went over the top to solidify a 23-22 win for Auburn.
My loyalty and love for Auburn can only be explained as an act of God. I am always thankful for God’s grace.
Thanks to the nine game winning streak, Alabama leads the series 41-34-1. Since 1981, Bear Bryant’s penultimate season in coaching and Pat Dye’s inaugural season as head coach on the Plains, Auburn has a 17-14 lead in the series. Auburn’s six game winning streak from 2002-2007 certainly padded that record. In other words, the series is like a couple of Siamese Twins in a nudist colony; it is close and can be streaky.
To say that some people take the rivalry seriously is the understatement of a lifetime. Many years ago, while working at Kroger, I jokingly told a customer that I could not take his check. After a quick back and forth, I told him it was due to the check’s Crimson Tide logo. I can’t say in this column what he said to me but it was enough to make a sailor cringe and a Kroger cashier’s stutter increase dramatically. I sometimes wonder if the name on that check was Harvey Updyke.
During my three deployments to Iraq, Auburn went undefeated on two different occasions. More importantly, they were 3-0 versus their in state rivals. I’ve actually had friends and family inquire about the possibility of me deploying for a short period of time each year around Thanksgiving. Sure, they claim they are just kidding but there is a grain of truth to just about everything; in this case, perhaps a few grains.
Much like 1972, no one is giving Auburn a chance against the #2 ranked Tide in the 2012 “Iron Bowl.” Will Auburn win the game? Well, I’m no betting man, but I can certainly hope for the best. One has to look no further than Buster Douglas, King David, or the Karate Kid for examples of those who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to do the impossible.
To a certain extent, we’re all underdogs but we all have the innate ability to reach down deep to overcome just about any challenge thrown our way. On November 24, Auburn will have to reach down deeper than the Grand Canyon to have a shot at Bama but crazier things have happened, and that, as they say, is why they play the game.
(In case you missed it, Alabama won 49-0. Yikes!)
I love football as much as the next guy but when the final whistle blows, I hope we all remember that it’s just a game. Be that as it may, someone please let me know what happens. I’m trying to board the next flight to Afghanistan.
I’m ALL IN.