One of college football’s greatest rivalries will be in its 87th year as Bryant-Denny Stadium hosts the annual Alabama-Auburn showdown. The Crimson Tide and Tigers dealt with the upset in 2022. However, roller coaster seasons can end on a high note with an Iron Bowl win.
The Tide settled in after its College Football Playoff hopes ended at LSU on Nov. 5. He rallied for a nice win over Ole Miss and Lane Kiffin and handled Austin Peay last weekend. This Saturday could be the last time many Alabama players will play in their home jerseys, as bowl season typically brings a flurry of entry into the transfer portal and entering the NFL draft.
Auburn enters on a two-game winning streak and 2-1 overtime since Cadillac Williams took over for Bryan Harsin to become the first African-American head coach in Plains football history. The Tigers resorted to a hard hitting offense after their head coach and defeated Texas A&M and Western Kentucky to end their campaign at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
No. 7 Alabama (9-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) has won its last two games. Auburn (5-6, 2-5) needs a win to make a bowl game. Before kickoff on CBS at 2:30 PM CDT, here’s what each side had to say about the rivalry.
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Happy Iron Bowl Thanksgiving 2022
Nick Saban, Alabama head coach
On the heightened emotions with this game: “They’re all big games. This is obviously a competitive game which makes it a special game and a special challenge. All year we’ve been trying to get our players to focus on being internally motivated in terms of what they want to achieve and what they want to do, how good they want to be. Rather than relying on external factors to create that motivation for them. But I think in games like this, there’s going to be some outside factors that can be positive for some guys. I can’t underestimate that.”
On his weekly radio show about Auburn’s improved play, he said, “These last three games, they’ve developed a run-the-ball mentality that’s been very effective for them.”
On Auburn interim head coach Cadillac Williams: “He was definitely a great competitor. And I think his personality shows in how his team competes.”
Will Anderson, Alabama linebacker
On favorite Iron Bowl moment: “I would say just as a team, when Kool-Aid (McKinstry) got that stop sign. He deflected the pass in the end. And then when Bryce went down and the offense went down and scored. I think those two moments were the greatest moments ever. It’s like a team. I was so happy. I was awake anyway. Bryce was one of the first people I hugged. That’s where the moments are that you cherish forever because they’re the moments you get to have with your brothers that you’ve worked hard for all offseason. Blood sweat and tears and it’s hard and all that. Those are the moments you don’t take for granted.”
Alabama guard Javion Cohen
“It means a lot to a lot of people, it means a lot to everyone at this facility and a lot of people across the state. The history of this rivalry is something that will continue whether I’m here or gone, and that’s just part of it. Of course, it would be advisable to show some sportsmanship. It’s a new year, a new season and I’m just ready to finish the week 1-0.” said the Central-Phenix City graduate when asked about his connection to the Tigers.
Alabama kicker Will Reichard
On the Iron Bowl: “I grew up in Alabama, so I know how big it is. In the state of Alabama, you have them all. I think our whole team knows how important it is to our fans, but it’s really important to us as well. I’m really excited. We’re really excited to go out there and play and try to win.”
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Cadillac Williams, Auburn interim head coach
On what this game means personally: “I’m on fire. I mean, man, I have a lot of respect for the great Nick Saban, a lot of respect. He came and sat on my couch in 2001 and I was like, ‘Wow.’ When he was at LSU, my mom, my dad, Coach Saban made a big impression on us. … Look, we’re going to play football. Auburn football. Whether it’s the Dallas Cowboys, the University of Alabama, the great Nick Saban, these kids won’t blink. We don’t blink.”
Colby Wooden, Auburn defensive line
On handling the environment on the road: “We will be able to play freely, freely…. We know our backs are against the wall, which historically tells us that’s when Auburn performs at its best.”
Colby Wooden, Auburn linebacker
On trying to repeat success from 2021 overtime loss: “It’s going to be huge for us to get after the O-line. … We wreaked havoc last year and this is another opportunity where we have a chance to go at it again.
“We’re just going out there and putting our best foot forward and putting ourselves in a position to try to win this football game, to be in contention for 60 minutes because that’s what it takes in the Iron Bowl.”