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Iron Bowl Preview: It’s Almost 2021, but Not

Auburn has a 10-6 record when the Iron Bowl is played in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Of those 10 wins at home, Auburn was the higher ranked team 3 times. The last time it was the case was Nick Saban’s first Iron Bowl in 2007. In fact, Auburn has only been the higher ranked team in any Iron Bowl one time since Nick Saban had to be paid the most money ever to come to Tuscaloosa. That was 2010.

In 2023, Alabama is yet again the higher ranked team in the Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide is 10-1, their lone loss coming to Texas in Tuscaloosa, and is ranked #8. They are the 3rd highest ranked 1-loss team and basically can’t jump #7 Texas as long as the Longhorns keep winning.

Auburn is 6-5, coming off an event that shouldn’t have happened, and using logic over rival or loser emotion, is better than their record. Improvement has been made since playing 4 straight teams that have/had been ranked, 3 in the top 10.

Last week’s event was not a representation of the team Auburn had become over the course of the season, nor is it a sign of what team will be playing Alabama in this year’s Iron Bowl.

There’s been a lot of talk about “voodoo” and crazy things happening in Jordan-Hare, especially during Iron Bowls. I gave my full stance on why that’s not necessarily true, at least in terms of not-great Auburn teams needing some weird, wild stuff to beat a much-better Alabama. The only case where that was almost true was when an injured TJ Finley and Bryan Harsin had Alabama beat until Alabama finally scored a point in the 4th quarter and college football’s ridiculous overtime rules took over.

I’m close, but I won’t say that this season is almost the same scenario. Alabama is 10-1. Auburn is 6-5. Just like 2021. But this Auburn team is different. That one was limping along, literally, with TJ Finley after Bo Nix had been knocked out, ending what was a promising, Top 15 season. This team has gotten better over the last month, settled on a quarterback and offensive approach when playing teams they care to beat, and has an upward trajectory.

Back then, Alabama was pretty firmly in the playoffs. Even though they have the same record, Alabama needs some help this time around. They are receiving all kinds of praise since they beat LSU in the 2nd half without their quarterback, but there’s a reason they are still ranked #8 with only one loss while holding the name Alabama.

Their quarterback, Jalen Milroe, is getting the typical Alabama quarterback praise the 2nd half of the season. He was benched and very pedestrian earlier this season, but since LSU’s quarterback got hurt in the 2nd half of their annual SUPER BOWL TO END ALL WORLD HUNGER, he’s been all the rage. Because the quarterback at Alabama is the only reason any game is ever won and they have to be in the Heisman talk because they are the quarterback for Alabama.

Jalen Milroe has never played in Jordan-Hare Stadium or anything like Jordan-Hare Stadium, especially with an Iron Bowl setting. Actually, let’s look at the away stadiums where he’s played. I would say South Florida, but he was benched. After that, he went to Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and Kentucky. Two of those teams are now looking for coaches, and I don’t think Kentucky at the beginning of basketball season has been known for it’s raucous football environment.

So yeah, he’s never played in Jordan-Hare Stadium or anything like Jordan-Hare Stadium. That matters.

The last Alabama quarterback to come into Jordan-Hare Stadium was Bryce Young, who somehow won the Heisman trophy that season. He did so with 3 scoreless quarters and 1 last-minute drive that probably never should’ve happened had there been some better clock management by a Jaguar.

So a Heisman winner led one scoring drive in Jordan-Hare. Jalen Milroe, despite the simpletons thinking he should be considered just because he quarterbacks Nick Saban’s football team, ain’t sniffin’ a Heisman.

This is Nick Saban’s worst Alabama team in a while and everybody agreed until they beat LSU with a hurt quarterback and then beat Kentucky and Chattanooga. They’re no different.

Payton Thorne has fixed some things and looked like a better quarterback because his schedule got a little easier. Milroe has looked better against Kentucky and Chattanooga, further bolstered by being the quarterback of the team that beat LSU when their quarterback was hurt.

Am I being clear? Nothing is different. It’s the same Milroe that Saban benched and that Alabama fans worried about. The schedule has been favorable and helped him look better. You think he’s better because he’s the quarterback for the team that beat LSU when their quarterback was hurt.

Alright I think I’ve gotten my point across. This is a lesser Alabama team. Last week was not indicative of the Auburn team that shows up for Iron Bowls. It’s not as good as people want them to be Alabama against a better than people want them to be Auburn. And that’s enough.

It will be low scoring. It will be very 2021. Auburn will score twice in the 1st half and once in the 2nd half. The defense will make a huge stop to hold the lead in the 4th quarter. Jarquez Hunter runs over somebody. Payton Thorne has his best game of the season, while being a typical Alabama quarterback game manager. Jalen Milroe looks lost like Jalen Hurts in 2017. Nick Saban retires in the postgame press conference.

Auburn 21, Alabama 17

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