“Alabama fans only know two emotions when it comes to the Auburn game; relief or sadness” is a quote from a random resident in the Twitter world.
That quote above is so true. ’Bama fans never truly enjoy a win over Auburn as much as they should because, in some of those fans’ minds, celebrating that victory too much elevates the rival’s status.
Thanks to receiver Amari Cooper’s greatness, a much better defensive effort in the second half and quarterback Blake Sims’ persistence, relief ruled the day in the 2014 Iron Bowl. However, it sure seemed like it was headed towards an extremely sad day in Tuscaloosa early on as AU came to play that day.
This Iron Bowl was set up perfectly for Auburn because it had so little to lose. The Tigers generally shine in those underdog scenarios. Conversely, Alabama is a better front-runner, which makes the Sims-led 55-44 comeback even more impressive.
That game had everything. AU’s Roc Thomas, a former five-star running back who chose Auburn over Alabama, was the target of a backward pass on the first play that led to a turnover. Meanwhile, Cooper scored more than Leo DiCaprio on Bid Day and Derrick Henry gave everyone a glimpse of the monster he would soon become.
However, when AU went up 33-21, I can assure you there were 100,000 puckered posteriors in Tuscaloosa — mine included. The situation looked mighty bleak.
My angst was only exacerbated by the fact there was an Auburn fan in our section who wouldn’t stop telling her ’Bama friends in a very passive/ aggressive manner, ‘No matter who wins — and it looks like it’ll be my Tigers — we are going out and having fun tonight!”
That’s why a tube of Clorox wipes couldn’t have erased the smile off of my face when that same girl, who was filled with so much whimsy and hope in the third quarter, marched past me towards the exists with five minutes to go in the game as she dragged her boyfriend by the wrist. You see, ’Bama had not only caught “her Tigers,” but had put enough points on the board even she knew Auburn wasn’t coming back that day.
I guess she decided not to go out after all…
The real story of that game was Amari, though. Yes, I used his first name only. He’s earned that.
Amari didn’t just beat his defender for the ball multiple times en route to a record setting day; he beat him well before the ball is in flight. Alabama has a fantastic rep for putting receivers in the NFL under Saban and they all have their strengths, but Amari Cooper is probably the best true receiver the Tide has ever had and he definitely proved it in 2014 against Auburn.
With all due respect to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariotta, who ultimately won the Heisman Trophy, Amari Cooper was the best player in college football that year.
Back to the ’14 Iron Bowl, ’Bama fans probably still don’t realize how difficult it is to win a game like that. It took a team with a championship will to overcome some of its early miscues.
It wasn’t the prettiest Iron Bowl ever, but it was one of the most memorable.