Iron Bowl a Bittersweet Picture of What Alabama Could Have Been in 2022
The Alabama Crimson Tide (10-2, 6-2) completed the 2022 regular season by whipping the Auburn Tigers (5-7, 2-6) in the 87th Iron Bowl 49-27. The Crimson Tide took a 35-14 lead into halftime and then cruised through the second half for the third consecutive game against its bitter rival.
The Tide was never really challenged in the regular season finale as the Auburn Tigers struggled to pass the football and couldn't slow down the Alabama offense who found itself scoring on seven of its 12 possessions.
It wasn't quite "Joyless Murderball" that Alabama fans have come to know and love, but for a 2022 season that saw the Crimson Tide struggle to maintain its competitive fire, it sure was close.
"I was really proud of our team, for this whole season, actually. To win 10 games. To go through a rough patch, when Bryce was hurt. Now he's healthy again, which makes us a different kind of team, I think. It's a great win to win in the Iron Bowl. For our players, it's great that they won 10 games but I think the thing I'm most proud of is, when everybody thought they were out of it and there was a lot of naysayers out there, that this team didn't give up on themselves they didn't give up on each other," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
They kept fighting and won some tough games to finish the season. I'm really proud of the fact that everybody hung in there, stayed together and continued to try to get better."
The Tigers were never coming into Bryant-Denny Stadium and beating Nick Saban's team with an interim head coach and a roster that's decimated, but still the Tide answered the bell.
Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young looked the part of college football's best player, completing 20-of-30 passes for 343 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, he also added 48 yards and another touchdown on the ground, giving him four scores in what is likely his final game in Bryant-Denny Stadium and possibly his final game in an Alabama uniform.
A night like tonight leaves Alabama fans wondering just what could have been if 2022 had gone just right?
The Crimson Tide didn't allow a single sack tonight and Auburn only hurried the Tide signal caller two times. If Young never injures his shoulder, does the offense go through its midseason growing pains?
All three Alabama running backs got into the endzone against the Auburn Tigers. Jahmyr Gibbs took 17 carries for 76 yards and a score, Jase McClellan ran for 44 yards and a score and Roydell Williams took his only carry for five yards and a score. What could this season have looked like with a steady, balanced running game to counter the Tide's deadly passing game?
The Crimson Tide held Auburn to just 77 passing yards on Saturday night, forced four sacks, had eight quarterback hurries, eight tackles for a loss and forced two turnovers to close out the regular season. Where was that tenacity in Knoxville or Baton Rouge?
Nick Saban is now 11-5 all time against the Auburn Tigers while leading Alabama. He undoubtedly will enjoy Saturday night's victory, however when this performance gets placed under a microscope will he be left wondering why his team didn't perform throughout the year as well as it did in the 87th Iron Bowl.