1. Auburn 30 vs. Alabama 20 – Dec. 2, 1989
How I Remember It: Honestly, the only thing I remember about this game is the pep rally the day before. I remember going to the ‘Beat Bama’ parade, and my dad asking me what a certain sign said. It said “Beat Bama’s Butt”, and I thought it was so cool that I got to say “butt”. The parade ended at the baseball stadium where the pep rally was held. I remember standing outside the stadium, which was much smaller back then, and seeing Pat Dye talking on a stage that seemed to be around shortstop. I will remind you, this is a seven year old’s memory, so I could be way off, but that’s what I remember.
Anything that I remember from the game was seen on a video tape or YouTube. I know there were paper shakers, and I know there were so many that there was an orange and blue fog above the stadium from the particles released from the paper strands. I also know that Alabama didn’t have a chance.
What Really Happened: As we all know, this was the first Iron Bowl ever played at Auburn. Auburn came into the game with an 8-2 (5-2) record and was ranked #11 in the nation. Alabama was undefeated and ranked #2 nationally, so it wasn’t like the Tigers were guaranteed a win just because it was a special game in the history of the rivalry. Alabama wasn’t going to just lay down and let the Tigers pick up a sentimental win, they were playing for a national title.
Auburn took the opening drive 68 yards in 7 plays, including a 44-yard pass from Reggie Slack to Alexander Wright, and a 1-yard dive by James Joseph for a touchdown. Later in the quarter, after an Auburn fumble deep in Tiger territory, Alabama drove to the Auburn 15 yards to the 7-yard line, but was stopped and had to settle for a field goal.
Alabama would take the lead, following a Slack interception, with a methodical, 13-play, 63-yard drive ending in an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. That would be the only scoring of the quarter, as the Tide took the 10-7 lead into halftime.
In the 3rd quarter, following a missed Tide field goal, Slack connected with Shayne Wadsden for a 58-yard gain to put the Tigers inside the Alabama 10-yard line. They would drive inside the 1-yard line before Joseph scored his second touchdown of the day with another dive over the pile.
Auburn would extend their lead to 7 on a drive that seemed promising, but after the Tigers were stopped at the 5-yard line, Win Lyle came on to kick a 22-yard field goal.
The 4th quarter would see the most points scored of any quarter, as Auburn took over the game. The Tigers would add a touchdown on their first possession of the quarter with an 11-yard run by “Lectron” Williams. The lead would be extended to 17 by another field goal that followed another Alabama interception.
Alabama would try to get back in the game by adding a touchdown and a field goal to bring the score to 27-20, but following the recovery of Alabama’s onside kick, Auburn drove down to the Alabama 17-yard line and kicked a field goal with 33 seconds remaining to bump the lead back up to 10 and solidify the win.
Why did I pick this game? I’d be willing to bet that every single one of you knew that this game would top the list. There has never been a bigger game in Jordan-Hare history, and there may never be. Last year would have been close if the Tigers had won, but you know what happened.
Grown men cried, women wept, children like me had no idea what was going on, but just the idea that the Iron Bowl was in Auburn was huge for the program, huge for the fan-base, and huge for the rivalry. Of course the game was great as well. The Tigers beat the undefeated, #2 team in the nation, that just happened to be Alabama.
This would have been much further down the list had the Tigers lost on that magical day, but the win just added on to what was already the greatest day in Auburn football history. There is no doubt that this game is the best in Jordan-Hare history.
Fun Fact: The win was Auburn’s 4th straight over Alabama, and gave Auburn a share of the SEC title with Alabama and Tennessee.
Play of the Game: The final field goal ended up being unnecessary, but it sealed Auburn’s win and dominance over Alabama in the first Iron Bowl at Auburn.
Player of the Game: Alexander Wright had seven catches for 141 yards plus 54 kickoff return yards on two returns.
Quote of the Game: “I just didn’t think they could win here. I knew they wouldn’t win if we played as a team.” – Quentin Riggins
Game Story: Tuscaloosa News
Box Score: Tuscaloosa News
Pat Dye’s Post-Game Speech:
The rest of the Top 30:
2. Auburn 22 vs. Alabama 14 – Nov. 20, 1993
3. Auburn 30 vs. LSU 26 – Sept. 17, 1994
4. Auburn 38 vs. Florida 35 – Oct. 16, 1993
5. Auburn 10 vs. LSU 9 – Sept. 18, 2004
6. Auburn 23 vs. Florida 20 – Oct. 13, 2001
7. Auburn 18 vs. Alabama 17 – Nov. 22, 1997
8. Auburn 18 vs. Florida 17 – Oct. 14, 2006
9. Alabama 26 vs. Auburn 21 – Nov. 27, 2009
10. Auburn 41 vs. West Virginia 30 – Sept. 19, 2009
11. Auburn 28 vs. Alabama 21 – Nov. 19, 2005
12. Auburn 10 vs. Florida 7 – Nov. 4, 1989
13. Auburn 28 vs. Tennessee 21 – Oct. 4, 2003
14. Georgia 56 vs. Auburn 49 – Nov. 16, 1996
15. Auburn 7 vs. LSU 3 – Sept. 16, 2006
16. Auburn 20 vs Florida State 17 – Oct. 20, 1990
17. Auburn 28 vs. Alabama 23 – Nov. 22, 2003
18. Auburn 29 vs. Georgia 26 – Nov. 11, 2000
19. Auburn 38 vs. Arkansas – Oct. 16, 2004
20. LSU 26 vs. Auburn 21 – Sept. 20, 2008
21. Georgia 19 vs. Auburn 14 – Nov. 13, 1982
22. Auburn 17 vs. Alabama 10 – Nov. 24, 2007
23. Auburn 33 vs. Ole Miss 20 – Oct. 31, 2009
24. Auburn 26 vs. Tennessee 26 – Sept. 29, 1990
25. Auburn 31 vs. LSU 7 – Oct. 26, 2002
26. Auburn 27 vs. Florida State 24 – Oct. 1, 1983
27. Ole Miss 24 vs. Auburn 20 – Nov. 8, 2003
28. Auburn 24 vs. Georgia 6 – Nov. 13, 2004
29. Auburn 55 vs. Pacific 0 – Sept. 9, 1989
Two things happened that day: Auburn beats the #2 team and wins the first ever Iron Bowl in Auburn. Both equally HUGE! Great countdown! Thanks for doing this!
Good series. I don’t think you will have any Auburn fan disagree with you on this game being the most important game at JHS and until the generation that remembers having to play Bama at Legion Field every year dies out, it always will be.
But let me tell you about that 81 Wake Forest game….. ;-)
I read somewhere one time another great quote from that game by Pat Dye:
“The crowd wouldn’t let us lose.”
I think I will go ahead & take credit for these 2 games being 1st & 2nd because I was a both. The 89 game was my freshman year @ Auburn & I can honestly say there was NOTHING like the atmosphere at that game. The 93 game was my last football season as a student @ Auburn. What a season and what an amazing end to my 4 um 5 :) years at AUBURN!!!! WAR EAGLE FOREVER!!!!!
Great list, but how can u leave out Maryland in ’83. . .Terps stack the line determined to stop Bo; only to have fullback Tommie Agee rush for over 200 yards. . .Priceless!
James “Bo Peep” Joseph
The Iron Bowl is the punchline to as many different jokes as there are college football teams not named Alabama or Auburn. Both fanbases actually believe most people outside the state of Alabama care about this game. And the people outside the state of Alabama? The same “most people” the Gumps and the Barners claim give a hoot about their annual Oedipal display; could not care less.
The 89 Iron Bowl was the greatest game in JHS history, so glad I was there to experience it. I attended 6 of the top 10 games on the list. Great memories