Who do former players think will win Iron Bowl?
Ed Hines can’t remember pregame hype as high as it is for this year’s Iron Bowl since 1971, when both teams were undefeated — Alabama ranked No. 1, Auburn at No. 5.
“Both teams in 1971 were undefeated, and it was a (Pat) Sullivan and (Terry) Beasley passing attack versus a Johnny Musso led wishbone offense,” said Hines, who played defensive end for the Crimson Tide from 1969-1972. “We won pretty handily, in large part because coach Bill Oliver had just come back to Alabama from coaching at Auburn, and he knew how to defend their offense probably better than they did.”
Much will be on the line Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn when No. 1 Alabama takes on No. 4 Auburn in the 78th playing of the Iron Bowl: SEC Western Division Championship, a berth in the SEC Championship game, and a possible berth in the National Championship — not to mention bragging rights in the state.
Game time is set for 2:30 p.m., and the game will be carried live on CBS.
Hines said this year will be different from the 1971 game.
“Lady luck has been riding on the ‘Gus Bus’ this year, and playing Auburn in Auburn gives them a great advantage,” Hines said. “Crowd noise will be a big key factor, primarily because it most likely will produce some false start or off side penalties by Alabama, and penalties will kill you in a game like this, as will fumbles and interceptions, and breakdowns in the kicking game. Alabama, in my opinion, has more skilled players than Auburn and more overall talent depth wise. So if, and I underline if, Alabama doesn’t turn the ball over, can keep Tre Mason under 100 yards rushing, and not have a bunch of bonehead penalties, Alabama will win by 13 points or so.”
Brewton resident Roger Chapman, who was on the 1978 national championship at Alabama, said this year’s Iron Bowl game will be like most in the storied rivalry.
“The team that is predicted to win probably will,” Chapman said. “Normally, both teams play each other very well in this one. I think this year’s game will be like the Alabama-LSU game was a few weeks ago with Alabama winning this Iron Bowl by a score of 42-17. Auburn has had a good season and won a lot of games, but so has Alabama. The game is a big game, always is, always will be. This year is no different.”
Chapman said playing against Auburn was special for him because his father was an Auburn graduate.
“We had some good times teasing each other after Alabama won,” he said. “We beat them pretty bad during my years on the Alabama team. My best memories of the game of late have been singing ‘Rammer Jammer’ in the stadium with my children after a victory. Looking forward to singing it again this Saturday. I have a lots of very good friends who are true Auburn fans and we enjoy ribbing each other when our respective team loses, however we remain friends win or lose and normally get over it in a day or two. I expect this year will be no different.”
Jared Cooper, who was on the 2010 national championship team at Auburn, said he also likes singing “Rammer Jammer” — but in a different way.
“My favorite Iron Bowl memory would have to be singing ‘Rammer Jammer’ in Bryant
Denny in 2010,” Cooper said of Auburn’s 28-27 rally win over the Crimson Tide. “Aside from the game itself being a thriller, there’s a special feeling for either side getting to sing Rammer Jammer to the other team. I always liked playing road games almost as much as home games, and getting to take something like a song that’s meant to rub your face in a loss and turn the tables is a lot of fun.”
Cooper said he thinks this year’s Iron Bowl score will be closer than a lot of people think.
“Both have very good offenses that haven’t really had many hitches this year, and both have solid defenses,” he said. “Auburn doesn’t rank very high statistically, but they have been able to get stops in crucial situations. Being the Auburn man that I am, I have to pick Auburn winning a game where both teams score in the neighborhood of 30.”
Cooper said he thinks this year’s Iron Bowl may be the “most anticipated” in the series.
“There have been games that have had huge outcomes afterwards, but this is the first one I can remember where both teams are in the top-5 going into the game,” he said. “People have been looking forward to this one for three weeks or more, so there will be a lot of anxiety relieved after Saturday.”
Hines knows how high the stakes can be in a game like Saturday’s.
“In my senior year (1972), Auburn blocked two punts, ran both back for a touchdown, and beat us 17-16,” he said. “If we had won that game, we would have been National Champions in one or two polls. Any favorite memories of the game I harbored before then, or since, were and have been completely erased and replaced by that experience. Being 90 seconds away from a national championship and then losing it does that to you. But it is those type things that make this game clearly the greatest rivalry in college football. This is clearly the greatest rivalry in college football.”