If there was ever a man, a team, a game that would take down Nick Saban's dynasty at Alabama, it'd be Gus Malzahn and the spread offense at Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Rivalry aside, Saban has always had trouble with spread offenses like what Malzahn has run for years.
It's no secret that "St. Nick" despises the spread. Saban's defenses had been averaging 337 yards and 21.5 points allowed per game against spread offenses going into the Auburn game compared to just 274.7 yards and 11.4 points per game against all offenses.
Coming into the Iron Bowl, the Tide was only allowing 91.3 rushing yards per game in 2013. That average jumped to 108.3 after Auburn gashed Bama for 393 total yards, 296 of them coming on the ground.
While the missed field goal at the end of the game is going to be harped on for a while as why Bama lost, Auburn wouldn't have even been in that position without Malzahn matching Saban all game. His intensity, ingenuity and moxie were why Auburn even stood a chance.
If anybody has Saban's number, it's Malzahn. The offense the mad genius has been running for years takes perfect advantage of Nick Marshall and Tre Mason's talents with its multiple formations and option base.
|Alabama's Defense Against Notable Spread Offenses Since 2008|
|Year||Opponent||Total Yards vs. Alabama||Result: Score|
|2012||Texas A&M||418||L: 29-24|
|2013||Texas A&M||628||W: 49-42|
|2013||Ole Miss||205||W: 25-0|
|cfbstats, B/R Research, Sanjay Kirpalani|
It's the ultimate mix of Chris Ault's pistol principles, Paul Johnson's triple-option ideas, Urban Meyer's spread option all within the base of a spread passing attack.
Keep in mind, this offense won a national championship in the 2010 season because of his ability to scheme against any team. Against Saban, Malzahn has been 2-2 with offenses that have scored an average of 24.3 points while gaining 297.3 yards per game.
Take out the one game that Saban looked to have figured out Malzahn holding him to just 14 points and 140 yards in 2011 when they didn't have a talented starting quarterback, and the averages jump to 349.7 yards per game and 27.7 points per game. Malzahn understands how to attack Saban's defense.
Prior to the Auburn game, Alabama allowed just 9.3 points per game. And while Texas A&M has more natural talent then Auburn, Alabama hasn't seen an offense with the same design since the 2010 Iron Bowl with Cam Newton running the show for Malzahn.
It was a perfect storm for the Tigers that was capped off with the field-goal return. But the spread offense is what really won the game.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.