Alabama Football: Closing the door on the 2023 Iron Bowl

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

For Alabama Football it is time to move on. Actually, for the Alabama Crimson Tide team, Sunday was the time to move on from the 2023 Iron Bowl. What is just days ahead is of far more significance.

Alabama football fans will never stop celebrating the 2023 Iron Bowl. While a more decisive win might have enhanced the Crimson Tide’s Playoff chances, the 4th-and-31 miracle brought more Crimson Tide joy than a blowout. I can’t remember, but whatever the old moniker was that Auburn fans so loved – has been relegated to a college football dustbin.

Added humor has been provided by the whining and excuse-making of Auburn fans about the officiating. Yes, the officiating was bad. Yes, an early facemask against the Tide was a major officiating error. In the end, the Crimson Tide was called for more penalties and more penalty yards than Auburn. One penalty call cost the Tide a touchdown, though it appeared to be the correct call.

Alabama football fans gained justification for the biggest officiating complaint on the pass called incomplete to Jermaine Burton. Game officials disagreed on the call and video evidence showed Burton’s foot came down in bounds.

In the end, the outcome of the game had nothing to do with officiating. Don’t bother trying to explain that to an Auburn fan. What Auburn fans are entitled to is an acknowledgment that the Tigers played hard and tough football, almost earning a major upset.

Without the fumbled punt and a bizarre coaching decision to rush just two defenders on the Tide’s last offensive play (a third stayed in the scrimmage area to spy Jalen Milroe), the Tigers would have probably won the game.

On Sunday night, the FanDuel Sportsbook had the spread on the SEC Championship game at Georgia, minus-5.5 points. Before the Iron Bowl, some early odds had the Dawgs at minus-3.5 points. That the Bulldogs, winners of the last two National Championships and with an SEC record winning streak of 29 games, are favored by less than a touchdown makes a statement.

Debate can occur about what that statement is, but I submit it says that the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide are college football’s two best teams.

Most of the college football world apparently does not rate the Crimson Tide in even the nation’s four best teams. My contention is the four best teams are Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Michigan – and I’m not so sure about Michigan. Maybe Oregon and Ohio State are in the top six, but not Washington and certainly not Florida State.

It is true that many of the Tide’s wins are not pretty. To the extent, that the CFB Playoff Selection Committee relies on eye tests, so far Alabama has come up short. But the Tide has the best resume of wins over ranked teams and has a chance to earn the biggest resume builder of the season in Atlanta. Even so, more than a few college football pundits suggest Alabama could win the SEC Championship Game and neither SEC team make the Playoff final four field.