The Iron Bowl is over. Where do Alabama and Auburn go from here?
From a high stakes coaching search for Auburn to an outside path to the playoffs for Alabama, let’s take a look.
THE IRON BOWL
Well, it wasn’t one for the ages. Although Auburn took an early lead and flirted with a comeback in the second half, the 2022 Iron Bowl was always in hand for Alabama.
Bryce Young threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns in what is likely to be his final performance at Bryant-Denny. Auburn rushed for a bonkers 318 yards but never found the end zone more than once per quarter.
Auburn committed 10 penalties for 49 yards. Alabama, not to be outdone by their biggest rival, drew 11 flags for 102 yards. It was the story of the season for the Tide.
At the end of the day, Alabama took care of business but didn’t make enough of a statement to look like a playoff team. Frankly, they haven’t all season.
AUBURN LOOKS FOR A COACH
The Cadillac Williams era is allegedly over on The Plains even though several sportswriters and Auburn twitter isn’t ready for the ride to end.
With Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin making good on his word to stay in Oxford, Auburn is now focusing on Liberty’s Hugh Freeze.
Freeze could come with baggage of his own, but we’ll tackle that if the deal is finalized.
Several other names have been mentioned for the Auburn job. Mike Stoops, Jeff Grimes, Kevin Steele, Deion Sanders. None of them are as good of a fit to be Auburn’s fifth coach in three years as Hugh Freeze.
Regardless, watching the last month of Auburn football has been something special. The next coach to take the reins on The Plains will inherit a better football team under a month of Coach Williams than they would have if Harsin was kept on.
ALABAMA LOOKS FOR A PATH
Believe it or not, there is still an outside chance Alabama makes the playoffs. Even if they don’t deserve it. To play for the title, at least two of the following results would have to happen:
- Unranked Purdue beats No. 2 Michigan in the Big Ten championship.
- No. 21 Texas beats No. 3 TCU in the Big 12 title game.
- No. 12 Utah beats No. 4 USC in the Pac 12 championship.
- Both No. 1 Georgia and No. 11 LSU show up sloppy in the SEC championship.
If all of the above happens, the CFP committee would still have to rationalize favoring Alabama over a team they lost to in Tennessee. And what do you do with one-loss Ohio State?
The case could be made for Alabama as a playoff team, just like any other year, sure. When you consider the non-Georgia teams likely to make field of four – Michigan, TCU, USC – they all found a way to win every week. Alabama did not.
Auburn ended the season 5-7 and will not go to a bowl. Alabama is currently projected to play likely Big 12 runner-up Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl on Dec 30.