Tag:Iron Bowl
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:55 am
 

CBSSports.com College Football 100: 60-51

By the Eye on College Football bloggers

To celebrate the (now fewer than) 100 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related
things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.

60. PHIL KNIGHT, head honcho/sugar daddy, Nike. He just might be the most passionate college football fan in the country worth $12 billion or more. Actually, Phil Knight is one of the most passionate college football fans in the country, period. The co-founder and chairman of Nike, Knight has an imprint on the sport unlike just about any other individual. In addition to Nike having contracts with all but a handful of schools, Knight has given millions of dollars to Oregon (his alma mater) and Stanford (where he went to grad school) athletics.

Knight has been ingrained as the poster boy for Oregon football the past few years, despite trying to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible. There's good reason for his status as one of the most powerful boosters in the country, though, whether it be having an athletic department official personally report news of a Duck recruiting commitment or listening in to play calls in his suite during games. His reach, through Nike, is even impacting college football fashion choices. While the Ducks have made the leap to BCS contender every year, they're also at the cutting edge of uniform design, and that's slowly filtering down to other Nike programs like Arizona State. Phil Knight might not be the most powerful person in college athletics ... but he certainly comes close. --BF

59. MICHAEL FLOYD, wide receiver, Notre Dame. At this point we don't even know if Michael Floyd will be playing football for Notre Dame this fall. After he surprised a lot of people in South Bend and decided to return for his senior season, Floyd was busted for a DUI - his third alcohol related offense since coming to Notre Dame. He could have been kicked out of school but survived the notorious ResLife board, though he's still under suspension from his head coach, Brian Kelly. Kelly has said that Floyd will either play every game for Notre Dame this season, or he won't play any, and that decision will have a huge impact on the Irish this year.

Odds are, Floyd is going to play. The fact is that he's one of the most important members of the Notre Dame offense, and his presence on the field could be the difference-maker between another 8-5 season and a possible return to the BCS for the Golden Domers. Floyd is one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the country, and may be the best red zone receiver in college football. His 28 career touchdown catches are a Notre Dame record and, if he plays, he'll likely break the school's records for yards and receptions as well. -- TF

58. MARQUEIS GRAY, quarterback/wide receiver (?), Minnesota. MarQueis Gray is something of an enigma in Minneapolis; the high school Army All-American quarterback was a recruiting coup for Tim Brewster and Minnesota back in 2008, but since then Gray has mainly spent his time at wide receiver for the Gophers, taking a backseat to the now-departed Adam Weber. Gray has lined up at quarterback a few times in his first couple years on the field, but it's usually been to execute a running play of some kind, as Gray's passing has been mostly disastrous--he's completed just 8 of 23 attempts thus far, and that includes a 5-of-6 performance against Ohio State. Take that out, and it's a surreal 3-of-17. (Only one interception in those 23 passes though, so at least when Gray misses, he misses everybody.)

Still, it's hard not to be tantalized by Gray's prospects as a quarterback. He has the size (6'4" and a strong 230) to play under center at the next level, his arm strength is legitimate, and he's plenty fast. All in all, he has such physical skills that Brewster had to get him on the field one way or another, and that's how his first two years played out at receiver. But at some point, someone with Gray's potential has to turn "on the field one way or another" into "on the field and leading his team," and if Gray can't make significant progress on that front in 2011, new head coach Jerry Kill's first season is going to be a long one. -- AJ

57. DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM, wide receiver, Hillcrest High School (Springfield, Mo.).  The nation's top high school football player according to MaxPreps analyst Tom Lemming, Dorial Green-Beckham is appropriately one of the most sought-after high school players in the country, if not the most sought-after player in the country. With his combination of speed and size, Green-Beckham has drawn comparisons to Randy Moss. Perhaps it's no surprise that one of the best photos in the MaxPreps database (at left) is of the star receiver is him making a leaping, one-handed grab.

Green-Beckham is considering schools closer to home, such as Missouri and Oklahoma, along with several SEC schools. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound receiver does not have a timetable as to when he'll choose a school, but he is looking to make his choice known on Signing Day so this will be a process that lasts until February. Recruiting has taken a back seat for Green-Beckham at the moment, though, as his younger brother Darnell is going through treatment for leukemia. As Dorial and his entire family goes through this grueling ordeal with Darnell, it's an important reminder of life outside of the game of football. -- BF

56. CHARLIE STRONG, head coach, Louisville. When Strong finally got the tap to join the head coaching community, his peers were elated and Louisville fans were excited to see what the heralded defensive coordinator could do with the Cardinals. He was brought in to fix what Steve Kragthorpe had broken, and in one season he was able to deliver the program's first bowl win since the Bobby Petrino era. The 2010 team was loaded with veterans on defense, and anchored by Bilal Powell's 1,405 yards of downhill running.

With Powell and many starters gone from last year's squad, Strong will have to deliver a repeat performance with less tools in the shed. To make matters worse, his team was decimated by injury this spring. The plague got so bad for the Cardinals that the spring "game" was changed to a scrimmage; the only way to practice with the offensive line became sunrise sessions that worked with the class schedules of the few healthy lineman. The second-year head coach maintained a positive outlook, but was honest about the obstacles he faced with the already-inexperienced team this spring. The coaching challenge for Strong is even greater in 2011--unfortunately, after 2010's success, the expectations might be even higher. -- CP

55. E.J. MANUEL, quarterback, Florida State. The revival in Tallahassee has been one of the most prominent offseason stories in the ACC. Jimbo Fisher's first season at the helm brought an Atlantic Division title, a Chick-Fil-A Bowl win over SEC runner-up South Carolina, and their first 10-win season since 2003. Already pegged as the favorite in the ACC, and possibly a national title contender, the expectations are back at Florida State. And much of the weight of those expectations falls on the shoulders of quarterback E.J. Manuel.

Manuel is no stranger to leading the Seminoles. Frequently over the last two seasons he has stepped in for the oft-injured Christian Ponder. But the appearances near the end of 2010 (against Clemson, Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, and then the Gamecocks in the bowl game) showed a more mature and dangerous playmaker than Florida State fans had seen before. Manuel kept himself composed on the biggest stage, being called on at the last minute in both situations to step in and lead the offense. He didn't have a fantastic spring, but Fisher is confident in his starter's ability to lead this team all the way to the top. Now the pressure is on Manuel to prove him right. -- CP

54. HARVEY UPDYKE, accused tree poisoner, Dadeville, Ala. No, "Al from Dadeville" isn't about to suit up for his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide, isn't about to steal any signals from his hated Auburn Tigers, isn't about to do anything to impact events on the field. But his (alleged) destructive actions will resonate throughout the season off the field, as college football learns to confront not only its increasingly rabid fandoms, but the Internet soapboxes and radio call-in echo chambers that help turn the healthy love of a favorite team into something toxic. If 2011 proves to be the year where the sport takes a legitimate step towards hooliganism, Updyke will have been the tipping point.

And of course, that goes double in the state of Alabama. Updyke isn't in any way representative of the Tide fanbase as a whole, nor that of the Tide's rivals on the Plains; the outpouring of support from Tuscaloosa after the poisoning announcement (and -- though in a situation so much more serious the two perhaps shouldn't be mentioned in the same paragraph -- from Auburn after the tornado tragedy) is far more typical of the majority of the state's football fans. Still, the same mad passion for college football that helped make Alabama the sport's epicenter the previous two seasons also unquestionably helped spawn the likes of Updyke. As the Tide gears up for another potential title run, the specter of "Al from Dadeville" -- and the potential for harm its school spirit-gone-wrong represents -- will continue to linger over the Iron Bowl ... and all of college football. -- JH

53. TOM O'BRIEN, head coach, N.C. State. In his fourth year since arriving at N.C. State from Boston College, O'Brien was able to deliver just the Wolfpack's second season since 1994 with at least nine wins. His team even came within one victory of the ACC Championship Game berth, then made up for that disappointment with an impressive 23-7 victory over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl. For the time being, O'Brien could do no wrong. Wolfpack fans said their goodbyes to baseball-bound star quarterback Russell Wilson, and O'Brien began focusing on repeating the success from 2010.

Then in late April, Wilson decided that he wanted to come back to college football. That's when O'Brien stood strong on his word and made one of the more unconventional (and possibly influential) coaching decisions in recent memory. He stuck by junior quarterback Mike Glennon as his starter, and Wilson was granted a release from his scholarship. With one year of eligibility remaining, Wilson could end up being the final piece to a BCS team looking to get to the next level, or he could end up the next Jeremiah Masoli--a round peg trying to quickly fit into a square hole. Glennon, meanwhile, could be the star gunslinger he was thought to be as a recruit, or maybe the three years on the sideline behind Wilson have made him rusty. There are many different endings to the Wolfpack's 2011 story, but it all started with O'Brien's decision to let Wilson walk out the door. -- CP

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52. DAN PERSA, quarterback, Northwestern. Persa had quite the eventful five seconds last November 13. He threw a game-winning touchdown to Demetrius Fields in a 21-17 win over Iowa, then came down awkwardly on his right leg and ruptured his Achilles tendon, ending his season. And it was a stellar season, at that; Persa was in the top 10 nationally in passing efficiency, and at the time of his injury he was leading the Wildcats in rushing yards by a substantial margin. Northwestern would go on the finish 0-3 after Persa's injury (although that might have more to do with the 163 points they gave up in those contests than anything else).

Fortunately, Persa's rehab is on track, and he's probably going to be back under center for Northwestern come this September. Achilles injuries are tricky, though, and Persa's mobility is probably going to be affected to some extent. Doubtless, Pat Fitzgerald would like to rush his quarterback less anyway, seeing as how Persa's 2010 workload was more necessity than luxury, but that means someone in Northwestern's backfield is going to have to step up in 2011. Mike Trumpy, perhaps? They're probably hoping so in Evanston. -- AJ

51. TOMMY TUBERVILLE, head coach, Texas Tech. Not every red Raider fan was thrilled with the idea of replacing Mike Leach with Tommy Tuberville last season. It was kind of like Tech had traded in its Ferrari Enzo for a Ford Focus. There's nothing wrong with the Focus, as it'll get you where you want to go, gets nice mileage and is extremely dependable ... but it's not a Ferrari. Still, in 2010 at least, it's not as though the Texas Tech offense became a replica of Tuberville's conservative Auburn teams; the Raiders still finished seventh in the country in passing yards and 23rd nationally in points-per-game.

The problem -- as is normally the case in Lubbock -- was a defense that allowed over 30 points a contest. Tuberville got to where he is as a head coach by coaching defense, and as he enters his second season in Lubbock, we should start to see the defense improve. And if that starts to happen, fans may have to adjust to a less active scoreboard, but they may start seeing a lot more wins as well. Tuberville's track record at Texas A&M, Miami, Ole Miss and Auburn shows that Tech is going to be a better team long-term with him at the helm, a difference the Raiders should start seeing in 2011. -- TF

The 100 will continue here on Eye on CFB tomorrow. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91, 90-81, 80-71 and 70-61. You can also keep up with the 100 by following us on Twitter.




Posted on: April 18, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Chizik booed at Talladega

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

BREAKING NEWS: Alabama fans don't care for Auburn. Or anyone remotely associated with Auburn, like say, a Tiger gymnast striking a Heisman pose in Alabama's gym. Or, more obviously, Gene Chizik.

So it shouldn't surprise you that Chizik's presence as the official announcer of "Gentlemen, start your engines" at this weekend's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway was greeted by the Tide fans in attendance with ... booing. Speaking as college football fans, we wouldn't have it any other way, right?

Auburn fans had the last laugh anyway, what with it being their (reigning Iron Bowl and national champion) coach asked to make the announcement in the first place, and Michael Waltrip driving this Auburn-themed car during the race to honor the Tigers' 2010 season:

Unfortunately, the color scheme didn't seem to help Waltrip much as he finished 28th, no doubt exactly the kind of finish Tide fans were hoping for.

Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), 4/8

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every Friday we catch up on four stories you might have missed during the week ... and add a few extra links to help take you into the weekend.

FOUR LINKS ...

1. It's not easy for a school like Mississippi State to keep up with the Joneses of the SEC when it comes to the facilities arms race ... but $12 million worth of private donation sure helps. The artist's rendition of the future "Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex" (which will house practice fields a weight room, coaches' offices, etc.) looks like so:



2. It sounds like new Colorado coach Jon Embree isn't wasting any time reshaping the Buffaloes roster. Though a round of cuts (unfortunately) isn't exactly unprecedented for a new coaching administration, it will be interesting to see if there's any pushback from the Boulder media or academic types over his cancellation of scholarships for "effort"-related reasons that seem to straddle the "violation of team rules" line.

One player who won't mind Embree's arrival regardless: Buff kicker Justin Castor, who watched Dan Hawkins burn his redshirt last season to attempt just one field goal.

3. Unlike most sports teams, when choosing a design for their Rose Bowl championship rings, TCU went reserved, classy, tasteful :



Or, perhaps, the opposite of that. (Not that they don't deserve rings that would fit around this blogger's wrist, of course.)

4. After the success of last year's Illinois-Northwestern game at Wrigley Field (and that in the face of the "offense only faces one way" debacle), it's no surprise that the Boston Red Sox would consider hosting a college football game of their own at Fenway Park. Though such a game is still just a twinkle in the Sox executive's eye at this stage, it's no surprise that Boston College fans would like to volunteer their team's services.

AND THE CLOUD ...

Cal receiver Tevin Carter has left the Bears program citing a lack of interest in football; Carter did not catch a pass last season ... "Top-level donors" at Arizona State are getting a sneak peek at the team's new uniforms ... Minnesota signee Peter Westerhaus suffered a skull fracture and received 50 stitches after being hit in the face by a boulder on a family hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. He'll be fine for fall practice, though ... Staying with the Gophers, a bill to allow alcohol sales in TCF Bank Stadium's "premium seating" has made it through committee ... The intensity of the Iron Bowl rivalry extends itself to a gymnastics meet, not that you should be surprised by that ... And speaking of Auburn, reserve linebacker Jessel Curry and reserve safety Ryan Smith are not currently with the Tigers during spring practice, though the door to their return doesn't sound closed yet ... And speaking of Alabama, here's 50 photos (!) illustrating the process (pun intended ) of bringing the Tide's new Nick Saban statue to, uh, life ...  A useful look at the SEC's overall athletic program program margins, of which football is obviously the largest part ... Things got feisty at Texas A&M's practice this week ... The most in-depth 2011 preview of UL-Monroe you're going to find, courtesy of new stats-loving blog Football Study Hall .


Posted on: March 23, 2011 12:36 pm
 

SEC releases 2011 schedule

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SEC fans, it's time to get out your calendars, open your datebooks, fire up your scheduling apps ... whatever you need to do to make sure your fall Saturdays are clear. Because the final SEC 2011 football schedule has been released -- you can view it in PDF grid form here -- and as expected, it's got more than its fair share of mouth-watering dates. Our choices for the highlights:

Sept. 3: South Carolina has sadly abdicated their semi-traditional opening Thursday night throne, so Western Kentucky's expected throttling at Kentucky is the only SEC action on the season's first night. But that's more than made up for by the matchups waiting on Saturday: Boise State traveling to Georgia, Oregon and LSU meeting at Jerry Jones's Dallas space palace, newly independent BYU visiting Oxford to take on Ole Miss ... even East Carolina's matchup against the Gamecocks in Charlotte could prove interesting. In this cupcake-sodden day and age, you can't ask for anything more from an opening weekend.

Sept. 17: LSU starts the weekend with a sneakily-difficult Thursday night trip to Starkville to take on Mississippi State , the same situation in which the Bulldogs nearly upset the eventual national champions last season. From there we get the first real test of the Will Muschamp era as Tennessee visits Florida for the week's headliner. But there's still plenty of quality nonconference goodness after that: Auburn visiting Clemson, Kentucky hosting Louisville, Carolina taking on Navy's triple option.

Oct. 8: Though this doesn't apply to Alabama -- which will have already battled both Arkansas and Florida by this point -- this is the week the divisional races really get going, with three critical rivalry showdowns: Auburn at Arkansas, Florida at LSU, and Georgia at Tennessee. We'll know which teams are the true league favorites by this point.

Nov. 5: The rest of the slate's not particularly eye-catching -- though South Carolina's visit to Arkansas could be intriguing -- but it doesn't much matter when the presumptive SEC Game of the Year, co-league favorite LSU at co-league favorite Alabama, falls on this afternoon.

Nov. 26: Rivalry week in the SEC, and it promises to be as good as it's ever been: Muschamp's Gators trying to reassert themselves as the dominant Sunshine State program against Jimbo Fisher's resurgent Florida State; the always-competitive Battle for the Golden Boot between LSU and Arkansas, with a division title potentially on the line; the Gamecocks trying to build on last year's throttling of Clemson with another win in the Palmetto State bloodfeud; the usual hatefest between Georgia and Georgia Tech, with both teams trying to prove once and for all 2010 was a fluke; Kentucky tries once again to break the longest one-team-to-another losing streak in the country against Tennessee; the Egg Bowl , still underrated in terms of the animosity generated; and, oh yeah, an Iron Bowl meeting between the past two national champions that could very well carry national title implications again.

Inbetween these peaks, even the valleys will feature games like Auburn-Florida, Alabama-Penn State, Florida-South Carolina, Arkansas-Texas A&M, the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party ... it's going to be the same brutally intense SEC season it always is. If there's any problem with finally getting our grubby paws on the conference's schedule, it's that it also reminds us of how long we have to wait to have the goodies it promises are delivered.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 11:09 am
 

Auburn plays nice with Tide on scheduling issue

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Auburn and Alabama, as you may already be aware, don't always get along. Or, more accurately, under no circumstances get along.

But it turns out that when their conference parents at the SEC ask (or demand), they can occasionally play nice. That's the lesson to learn from the Tigers' just-announced late-season 2011 schedule adjustment :
For the first time since 1963, the Tigers won't play Georgia and Alabama in back-to-back games; Auburn slipped in Samford to split them up.

Also, the change means AU's open date will fall before Georgia and not before Alabama. The SEC sought changes because six league teams enjoyed open dates before playing the Crimson Tide last season. Auburn agreed to work with the league, switching where Samford fell on the schedule.
The alteration will no doubt stick in the craw of Auburn fans who will see the league (and potentially the Auburn administration) as having caved to the Crimson Tide's demands. Not only had Alabama filed the grievance regarding the bye-week problem, but Nick Saban had specifically, vocally griped (or from the Auburn perspective, "whined") about the Tigers enjoying an off week before the Iron Bowl. (The Tide also countered in 2010 by scheduling first-year FCS program Georgia State for the week before, and moving the game to Thursday night ... giving them the closest thing to a bye without actually having one.) "If Alabama wanted the change, and Auburn didn't, why is the league taking their side?" is how the orange-and-blue argument will certainly go.

But there's also little doubt that something had to be done about Alabama's bye-week problem -- it didn't hurt their case that all three of their 2010 losses came to teams that had enjoyed the extra week of preparation -- and of the six teams that asked for a pre-Tide bye in 2010, clearly only a couple would get the same indulgence in 2011. The SEC decided Auburn wasn't one of those teams. In the end, there's not that much room for complaint, particularly since both teams (who'll square off against FCS competition the week before) will still enter the 2011 Iron Bowl on equal footing.

It's Auburn and Alabama, though. Whether it's fans, head coaches, administrators, whoever: there's going to be complaining.





Posted on: December 2, 2010 2:43 pm
 

Silver lining to Barron injury for Tide?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's hard to imagine that Alabama' s Iron Bowl loss (at home, having been ahead 24-0, vs. archrival, etc.) could be any more painful than it already is, but the Tide may have found out differently today as All-American safety Mark Barron will miss his team's bowl game after torn pectoral muscle suffered against Auburn. Barron underwent successful surgery for the injury Friday and will be out for somewhere in the neighborhood of four months.

The news is not good for Alabama in the short-term; their secondary is the thinnest and youngest part of their roster (Barron could be replaced by Will Lowery , a former walk-on), and Barron by far its most experienced and reliable member. The Tide have struggled with mental lapses in pass defense throughout the season, and will be even more vulnerable in their bowl game without Barron's steady hand.

But in the longer term, Barron's injury could prove to be a blessing in disguise. A junior widely regarded as one of the best safeties in the country, Barron was widely expected to test the draft waters and possibly move on to the NFL after this season. It's possible the injury has brought an end to his Alabama career. But if the surgeyy puts too big a dent in his stock, he could decide to return to Tuscaloosa for his senior season. Of course, he could decide to bolt anyway, just as he could have decided to stay anyway before the injury. But the surgery and his potential inability to work out for scouts ahead of time certainly won't boost his NFL standing or the chances of an early departure.

The Tide can also take some very minor solace in that they're not the only SEC team forced to play their postseason game without a major contributor; Mississippi State will be without the services of leading receiver Chad Bumphis after ther sophomore found out earlier this week he had suffered a broken collarbone in the Bulldogs' win over Ole Miss. The silver lining for MSU fans? Unlike with the Tide and Barron, they know they'll get to see Bumphis back in a Bulldog uniform next season ... and that compared to the potential drama with their head coach , one missed game for one player doesn't seem like such a big problem.

Posted on: November 29, 2010 9:41 pm
 

Alabama fires 'DJ' from Iron Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Before the Iron Bowl on Friday, Cam Newton and his Auburn teammates warmed up on the field to a couple of specially selected songs.  Newton had already been showered in fake money by the Alabama student section as he made his way to the field, and once he was out there the songs "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Take the Money and Run."

Obviously, the selections were in reference to the rumors that Newton's father Cecil Newton, a preacher, was shopping his son to the highest bidder after he left Florida. Honestly, when I heard about all of this before the game started, I found it to be rather amusing.  Maybe it wasn't the classiest way to go about things, but it wasn't exactly harmful.

Well, unless that was what motivated Newton to lead the Tigers back from a 24-0 deficit and win the game, but considering how things went in the first half, i doubt that's the case.  Either way, the man who was in charge of those musical selections has been fired by the school.

"Our processes require that all music and videos played in the stadium prior to and during every game be carefully scripted and approved by a senior administrator in the Athletics Department," Alabama public relations director Deborah Lane said in a statement. "The former staff member deviated from the script that had been approved for the game with Auburn, and the University took steps to immediately terminate his contract."

"The University of Alabama takes great pride in our football team's long-standing tradition of playing the game with dignity and class, and showing respect for players and coaches of opposing teams. We are disappointed when the actions of any staff member undermine our deeply held values and expectations."

Am I the only one who finds this to be a bit of an overreaction?  So the guy played some songs that weren't on a pre-selected list,* it's not like he set the building on fire here.  Now, had he started playing some Justin Bieber, then by all means, fire him. Heck, lock him up, but all he did was play a couple of songs as a joke.

A joke on the best player of the school's biggest rival, in what was the biggest game of the season for both schools.  I mean, isn't stuff like that what a rivalry is basically all about?  You're not supposed to like your rival, and I don't see any problem with having a little fun with him.

Besides, that's nothing compared to what Newton probably heard from fans in the stands.  Are the students who threw money at him going to get in trouble too?  

*By the way, I'd love to be in on those meetings.  "Listen, I'm cool with 'Who Let The Dogs Out' but if you think I'm playing 'Zombie Nation' you can just get the hell out of this meeting right now."
Posted on: November 26, 2010 6:59 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2010 7:07 pm
 

Missed Tide chances aid epic Auburn comeback

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In an Iron Bowl for the ages, Auburn roared back from a 24-0 first-half deficit and defeated Alabama 28-27 this afternoon to remain on track for an undefeated season and BCS title game berth.

That sentence does only the barest minimum of justice, however, to an instant nominee for college football's game of the year and one of the greatest games ever played in what could be the sport's bitterest rivalry. Alabama didn't just dominate the game's first 25 minutes; they owned them lock, stock, and barrel, outgaining Auburn at one point 314 to 2. Greg McElroy had surpassed his career high in passing yards before the first half was out while Julio Jones simply did whatever he wanted to against Auburn's undersized and sloppy secondary. The comeback from 24 points ranks as the largest in Auburn history, and it still doesn't accurately represent how big a hole Auburn was in. To pull it off virtually guarantees Cam Newton the Heisman Trophy (provided the NCAA doesn't make a ruling against him in the next seven days) and Auburn's title as 2010's most distinguished comeback artists.

But that's also why as thoroughly as Auburn outplayed the Tide in the second half (the Tigers eventually pulled within 120 yards of Alabama on the total yardage ledger), the comeback truly began in the first. After scoring touchdowns on their first three drives, the Tide appeared well on their way to a fourth when Mark Ingram -- who hadn't fumbled in more than 400 touches -- was stripped from behind by Antoine Carter and saw the ball (unlukily, it has to be said) fly through the back of the end zone. The Tide's next possession ended at the 2-yard line after a first-and-goal. Another first-and-goal on the Tide's next possession ended in a McElroy fumble. Auburn trailed 24-7 at the half; they could have been down by 24, 27, 30 points with the game entirely over.

The blown opportunities continued in the second half. Late in the third, with Auburn looking to seize full control of the game, Quindarius Carr fumbled a punt to set Alabama up at the Tiger 27 and it took McElroy and Jones one play to move to Auburn's 12; they still settled for a field goal that loomed even larger once Auburn answered with the winning score on their ensuing drive. Alabama then drove inside Auburn's 35 over the course of 11 plays (and more than six precious minutes of clock), but punted after a Ingram loss and McElroy sack pushed them all the way out of field goal range. They would not threaten again.

So the headlines will discuss Newton's mental toughness, and Auburn's resilience, and Gene Chizik 's coaching staff's precision halftime adjustments, and they will have earned every one of those headlines. If there's been a bigger single-game accomplishment in college football this season than coming back from being 24 points down at Alabama, we're not aware of it.

But that doesn't mean Alabama didn't play a large role in their own demise, and that they won't be kicking themselves over letting this game get away for years (or in this rivalry, decades) to come.

For a video recap of the game, see below:



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com