Tiger takeaways — Iron Bowl postgame
The 85th edition of the Iron Bowl was a wild game from start to finish, with the No. 15 Auburn Tigers ultimately taking down the No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide.
Here are some quick postgame takeaways:
Big picture: Earlier this week, we wrote about the fact Malzahn was among the nation’s elite coaches. This game cements him at the top of the mountain for all-time best Auburn head coaches. The ride has not been without its bumps, but Malzahn is the best who has ever roamed the sidelines at Jordan-Hare. He has now won three games head-to-head with Alabama head coach Nick Saban in addition to a long list of wins against top 10 teams. That’s rarified air in which to travel. Alabama hovered around the college football playoff picture going into this game, but Malzahn stood toe-to-toe with the legend on the other side of the field and proved he belongs in college football’s upper echelon.
Best decision of the game: Gus Malzahn’s game management. It became apparent with a little more than seven minutes to go in the second quarter that Malzahn had a feel for the this game. Facing a third and long inside Alabama territory, he made the smart decision to take the three points. Malzahn called a run play, picked up a few yards and then saw his kicker tie the game at 10. Usually ultra-aggressive in big games, Malzahn took the long view of what ended up being a game that will go down as one of the classics in the series. He had taken in the first quarter and a half and assessed what he had on defense and what Alabama had in an offense led by newly-minted starter Mac Jones. Malzahn’s measured approach to decision-making continued throughout the game, and it paid off.
Worst decision of the game: Seth Williams’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Williams getting into what really appeared to be a one-sided scuffle inside the red zone could have been even more costly. Williams took offense to some seemingly incidental contact from an Alabama defensive back, and it drew a 15-yard penalty. It could have had a much bigger impact on the game.
Player of the game: Anders Carlson. The Tigers’ kicker nailed all four of his kicks, including a 52-yarder. He was clutch. More importantly, he gave Malzahn the confidence to take three points in several situations knowing his defense was going to keep Auburn in the game.
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia