Alabama Football: Early start to Iron Bowl week gloomy for Auburn

Nov 18, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 18, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football gained everything it needed on Saturday. The Crimson Tide got its ninth straight win, giving Alabama a 16th consecutive 10-win season.

After the game, Nick Saban said the Crimson Tide now has a two-game season. That is probably the farthest into the future Nick Saban will allow his team to think. Of course, the season will have at least three more games with an increasing probability of it being four more games instead.

The best thing that happened in Bryant-Denny on Saturday was no serious injuries occurred to any Alabama players. Quandarrius Robinson got a stinger, but was fine after a few minutes. Nick Saban said the Tide dressed more than 130 players. On defense, 24 Crimson Tide players recorded stats. On offense, nine Crimson Tiders caught passes. Five running backs and three quarterbacks played. Alabama’s top four running backs averaged from 7.4 yards to 12.8 yards per carry. Alabama’s quarterbacks shined. Jalen Milroe finished with a 246.6 rating; Ty Simpson had a 136.7 rating, and in late work, Dylan Lonergan produced a 150.4 rating.

All the stats need to carry a large asterisk because the opponent was Chattanooga. The Mocs are not a bad FCS team, but they are not close to matching the talent of the weakest SEC rosters.

Across the state, there was a very different story on Saturday. If Auburn was looking ahead to the Iron Bowl, it was a big mistake. The New Mexico State Aggies (NMSU) came into the game at 8-3 but as a three-touchdown-plus, road underdog to the Auburn Tigers. Until Saturday night, NMSU had never beaten an SEC team in 27 attempts. The Aggies not only beat Auburn in Jordan-Hare, they dominated the game, winning 31-10.

Auburn should bounce back quickly because of the Iron Bowl. But the outcome had to be demoralizing for Hugh Freeze’s players. Not only did Auburn lose, it was outscored 21-3 in the second half. The Tigers rushing attack was held to a total of 65 yards against a New Mexico defense that was ranked No. 69 among FBS teams in average rushing yards, per carry allowed.

Alabama Football vs. a Demoralized Auburn

After the game, Hugh Freeze described his team’s loss as a “bad dream.” For the Aubies, what lies ahead next Saturday might well be a nightmare. The Alabama football offense may not need much of a passing game to easily defeat Auburn in the Iron Bowl. What the Aggies did on Saturday, the Crimson Tide can do and more.

If the Iron Bowl does turn one-sided, will any Auburn players quit on Hugh Freeze? Surely not in an Iron Bowl, but it will not be a shock if they do.

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Even more embarrassment for the Auburn program is that Auburn paid NMSU $1.85M for the game.