It just doesn’t seem like it has been 20 years since Alabama made its first trip to Auburn.
It all started back around 1987 when Auburn expanded its stadium to 85,214 with an east upper deck. They also built more hotels including the Hotel & Conference Center. Pat Dye always said for Auburn to be on equal ground they needed the Iron Bowl to be a true "home game".
I remember as a kid hearing things like "It will never happen."
"Birmingham won't ever lose the game".
These things were all true until Auburn made Jordan-Hare larger than Legion Field. It got so bad that there were law suits trying to keep the game in Birmingham.
Now for a recount of the season for both teams. Alabama was on a magical ride to another trip to the national title. They were doing it with a backup quarterback Gary Hollingsworth on offense and an All-American on defense, Keith McCants. The closest game was against Penn St. Alabama had to block a field goal with 13 seconds left to win. Here is a list of their games from 1989:
Sept 16 Memphis St. W 35-7 Birmingham,AL
Sept 23 Kentucky W 15-3 Tuscaloosa,AL
Sept 30 Vandy W 20-14 Nashville,TN
Oct 7 Ole Miss W 62-27 Jackson,MS
Oct 14 SW Louisiana W 24-17 Tuscaloosa,AL
Oct 21 Tenessee W 47-30 Birmingham,AL
Oct 28 Penn St. W 17-16 State College,PA
Nov 4 Miss St W 23-10 Birmingham,AL
Nov 11 LSU W 32-16 Baton Rouge,LA
Nov 18 So Miss W 34-17 Tuscaloosa,AL
Dec 2 Auburn L 30-20 Auburn,AL
Jan 1 Miami L 33-25 New Orleans,LA (SUGAR BOWL)
Auburn was having a good year as well. Shane Wasden was big part of Auburn only having 2 losses in 1989. He had a big punt return against LSU and caught the winning touchdown against Florida. One loss was against Tennessee 21-14 and the other was Florida St. 22-14 both on the road. The Tennessee loss would come back into play after the Iron Bowl. Here is a look at Auburn's 1989 schedule:
at Florida State
Tampa, FL Hall of Fame Bowl
Now on to the game. Auburn came out on fire in the first quarter. Slack hit Alexander Wright on a big play just three plays into the game. A few plays later James Joseph scored the first of his two touchdowns.
Alabama got on the board with a Philip Doyle field goal.
The next big play came when Alabama faked a field goal on the Auburn 5 yard line and the pass was knocked down. The first quarter ended 7-3 Auburn.
The second quarter was all Alabama. They moved the ball up and down the field on Auburn. The big play was a tipped pass by Spencer Hammond that was intercepted by Keith McCants. Alabama then took the ball right down the field and scored. The scoring play was a pass to Marco Battle to give Alabama a 10-7 lead at half time.
The third quarter was dominated by Auburn. It started with a big play to Shane Wasden for about 60 yards. A few plays later Auburn took the lead for good on James Joseph's second touchdown of the game. The score was now Auburn 14 Alabama 10. Auburn would add another touchdown and field goal to make it 27-10.
The fourth quarter would see Alabama score 10 points pull to within seven. Alabama had to make a fourth down conversion to keep the drive alive. When fourth down came again they took the field goal. The score now was 27-20 with only 1:45 to play. Alabama would try to onside kick but came up empty handed. Auburn would add a field goal to make it 30-20. Ironically the score would total up to the same age as Jordan-Hare stadium.
Auburn and Alabama both ended the season as SEC Champs along with Tennessee. It was a three way tie since Tennessee beat Auburn, Alabama beat Tennessee and Auburn beat Alabama. Auburn would go on to play Ohio State and win 31-14 in the Hall of Fame bowl. Auburn final record was 10-2 and number six in the nation. Alabama would go to play Miami in the Sugar Bowl and lose 33-25, and end their season 10-2 and be ranked number nine.
It is hard to believe it has been twenty years since this historical game took place. I agree with Pat Dye that getting the game to Auburn was almost as important as the outcome and Auburn was finally on an even playing field. A lot has happened with this rivalry in the last 20 years but nothing will ever compare to the atmosphere surrounding that game, and feeling outside and inside the stadium. Until next time...
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