The 2010 Iron Bowl was an instant classic to say the least.
The game itself almost mirrored the 2009 Iron Bowl.
In 2009, Auburn jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, only to score one touchdown in the remaining three quarters.
Alabama found itself leading the No. 2 team in the nation 24-0 with 8:01 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
As most of you know, Auburn would outscore Alabama 28-3 en route to the biggest comeback ever in the Iron Bowl.
So, how exactly did Alabama blow a 24-point lead?
In a blog from last week, I listed some keys to victory for Alabama.
- Julio Jones is the "ex-factor".
- Alabama's defense must stop Auburn five to six times.
- Alabama must score 30 points.
Julio Jones is the Ex-Factor
Well, it's hard to say that he wasn't the offense's biggest weapon. Jones racked up 199 yards receiving on 10 catches. However, Jones only had 3 catches for 25 yards in the 2nd half (targeted 6 times).
Alabama's Defense Must Stop Auburn Five to Six Times
The Alabama defense stopped Auburn six times and held them to 28 points.
You can't stop this offense for four quarters. You can contain them, however, and Alabama did a good job of that.
It was a great scheme that held Auburn to it's lowest rushing total of the year (148 yards) and Cam Newton to an average of 1.9 yards per carry (22 carries, 39 yards).
It was not enough. Auburn's defense tightened the screws in the second half as they have so many times this season.
Alabama Must Score 30 Points
This is where the ball was dropped by Alabama.
Trent Richardson dropped an easy touchdown early in the 2nd quarter. McElroy hit him in the hands. All he had to do was catch it and turn up field for a yard and Alabama might just have won this game.
It's easy to say that when it's all said and done, but the truth is that Auburn killed the clock late in the 4th quarter.
Their mindset would have been different if they were still trailing at that point.
Alabama squandered numerous opportunities to jump out to a massive lead. They missed scoring opportunities and committed seven penalties.
When you start leaving points on the field against a team as good as Auburn, you're inviting trouble.
The Second Half is Key
Auburn's defense stiffened in the second half, while Alabama stumbled.
Alabama never took any shots downfield like I thought they would. Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain seemed to be setting this up early in the game with screens and slants, but they rarely stretched Auburn's defense vertically.
Instead, the Tigers hovered close to the line of scrimmage and shut down the Tide's offense.
It was a tale of two halves, to be sure.
Auburn lost the battle up front in the first half, but Auburn turned that around in the second half.
Still, I feel like Alabama's defensive front did a nice job against Auburn's very good and experienced offensive line. Alabama LB/DE Courtney Upshaw won the battle against Lee Ziemba all day and the Tide defense notched four sacks, although the Auburn offensive line didn't allow a single sack in the second half.
Auburn took the final lead of 28-27 with 11:55 remaining in the 4th quarter.
Alabama really hurt themselves by posting a near seven minute drive following Auburn's go ahead score. The drive started around the 11:50 mark of the 4th quarter and yielded no points for Alabama.
Interestingly enough, the Tide's offense made a perplexing switch to the ground game on that drive by running it seven times compared to three passes.
Auburn managed to remove another four minutes off the clock despite gaining just12 yards on their next possession.
Alabama fans can't be too disappointed with the way their defense shut down the Auburn offense. If any team was going to do it, it was going to be a Nick Saban defense.
Auburn made the necessary adjustments and Alabama did not.The Tigers showed championship resolve on the road in Tuscaloosa and they will be a fearsome team for anyone in their way.
In last year's National Championship run, Alabama survived several tight contests. Being battle hardened is a true characteristic of championship teams and Auburn possesses plenty of that.
This Iron Bowl has to be considered among the greatest of all time in the series.
It's a series known for "Punt, Bama Punt", "Run in the Mud" and "The Kick". The 2010 Iron Bowl has left its mark on history. Is it the greatest ever?
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below. You can e-mail me suggestions or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @JoeSportswriter.