Iron Bowl 2022: Alabama, Auburn Play for Bragging Rights, Bowls


By JOHN ZENOR AP Sports Writer

It’s Iron Bowl day in Alabama! This year, Alabama and Auburn are set to meet with bragging rights, not titles, on the line.

The AP eighth-ranked Crimson Tide (9-2, 5-2 SEC, No. 7 CFP) hosts the Tigers (5-6, 2-5 SEC) in Tuscaloosa with its national and Southeastern Conference hopes already faded away. But it could be the final game at Bryant-Denny Stadium for Tide stars Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr. Both are projected as high NFL draft picks.

Auburn is led by interim coach Carnell Williams, a former star running back who has led his alma mater to two straight wins.

The Tigers become bowl eligible with a win. Alabama can lock up another 10-win season if its victorious.

It’s still big, still as Alabama coach Nick Saban said, “one of the greatest rivalry games in college football.” Important to fans and to players’ legacies and offseason moods. It’s just for statewide supremacy not national title hopes like it has been for both programs multiple times since Saban’s arrival.

“It means a lot to us, our players and our fans, and we’re going to do the best job we can to get ready for this game,” said Saban, whose teams have all reached 10 wins every season following his 2007 debut.

Auburn has staged a minor turnaround with back-to-back wins over Texas A&M and Western Kentucky under interim coach Carnell Williams. It would become a major one with an upset of the Tide, which is a three-touchdown favorite.

Williams, the hero of the 2003 Iron Bowl for Auburn, doesn’t think he needs a “magical speech” to get his team up for this one. But he has had the Tigers playing better lately.

“I truly feel like a lot of stuff that’s understood really doesn’t need to be said,” said Williams, a former Auburn and NFL running back who took over following Bryan Harsin’s firing on Oct. 31. “I’m looking for our guys to come out and fight and compete and we’re not backing down at all.”

Auburn’s Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter have both topped 100 rushing yards in each of the past two games. Quarterback Robby Ashford is actually the Tigers’ No. 2 runner.

Alabama counters with tailback Jahmyr Gibbs (presuming his ankle is healed up) and Jase McClellan, who ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns in his absence against Austin Peay.

Alabama and Auburn have both been sorely lacking in the go-to receiver department. Running backs lead both in receptions.

Ja’Corey Brooks, a hero of last year’s Iron Bowl, is leading Alabama with 547 yards followed closely by Jermaine Burton (503). That means the Tide’s four-year string with a 1,000-yard receiver is coming to an end.

Auburn’s Ja’Varrious Johnson has a team-high 473 yards and two of the wide receivers’ four total touchdown catches.

Kickoff is at 2:30PM CST on CBS 8.

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)



Categories: Alabama, Auburn, LACEUP