Crow never tasted so good, and I would know because I’ve eaten it two of the past three weeks.
Did I believe Auburn could beat Alabama? Absolutely.
From what I’d seen on paper, did I believe it would actually happen? Not really.
Was I wrong? Yes.
Do I care that I was wrong? Nope.
For the Auburn Tigers to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide, I thought three things needed to be on point: Auburn’s defense, Kerryon Johnson and the home crowd. Check all three of those boxes. But I also had one main concern: Could Jarrett Stidham produce against the Alabama defense?
He absolutely did, and that made the difference in the ballgame. Aside from a mistake in the first half, in which he tried to pick up a bad snap rather than fall on it (which resulted in a fumble that was recovered by Alabama), he played an incredible game.
Stidham completed 21 of 28 passes for 237 yards. He also picked up 51 rushing yards on 12 attempts. One of those attempts went for a touchdown, and several of those attempts extended critical drives. Oh, and all of that came against a defense that held opposing quarterbacks to 164 passing yards per game (until today).
He scrambled when he needed to. He threw the ball out of bounds when he needed to. He stepped up not only as a quarterback, but as a leader of this football team. (And he has two years of eligibility left after this one.)
Auburn finished the game with 408 total yards of offense, 168 on the ground and 240 through the air. They were 9-of-18 on third downs and scored on four of their five trips to the red zone.
Alabama finished the game with 377 total yards of offense, 209 on the ground and 168 through the air. They were 3-of-11 on third downs, which may be one of the more telling stats from the day.
Give Auburn’s offensive line credit for giving Stidham (and Kerryon) time to do his thing. Give Kevin Steele credit for turning the Auburn defense into a monster that gets better as the games go on. Give Chip Lindsey credit for his brilliant playcalling. (I’ve never seen an Auburn offense run a sexier play than that Kerryon Johnson jump pass to Nate Craig-Myers.)
Last, but certainly not least, give Gus Malzahn credit for weathering the storm. After an early (and ugly!) loss at Clemson and the October 14 loss at LSU, my Twitter feed was full of Auburn fans wanting him gone. Now they’re all crossing their fingers hoping (and probably praying) that he won’t leave for Arkansas. It takes a heck of a leader to stay the course in the midst of adversity, but he did it and he did it with class.
And now, his Auburn Tigers are one win away from a spot in the College Football Playoff.
War Eagle to all, and to all a good night!