*In Captain America PSA voice*
So, you’re trying to figure out how to react to the 2021 Iron Bowl. You have a lot of emotions swirling throughout your head, and you need to know which one is right for you. Well, I’m here to help.
Look, I already told y’all this is my least favorite game every season in the six pack. I watched most of the game on my phone, from the passenger seat of my wife’s car on the way to see family for the holiday weekend. I said a lot of unflattering, angry words towards offensive line coach Doug Marrone. I dropped it in disgust after offensive genius Bill O’Brien decided the best course of action on a potentially game-deciding 4th & 1 was to line up in the shotgun and run straight up the gut. I felt a little bit of hope when the defense stood tall and got the ball back — only for the Auburn punter to pin the up-until-then inept offense at the 3-yard-line. After two incompletions, facing a 3rd & 10 from that same 3-yard-line, Alabama’s win probability looked like this:
Then Heisman-candidate Bryce Young reappeared and led the Tide 97 yards down the field, completing this game-tying pass to true freshman Ja’Corey Brooks:
I’m honestly not sure what I felt in that moment. Elation? Relief? All I could would flatly say “holy shit.”
Then I remembered that overtime was coming, and a whole new wave a nervousness set in. Bama scored, and fist pumps were made. T.J. Finley made the throw of his life to even the score. The defense held on the next series, and OF COURSE the goddamned backup kicker made a 49-yard field goal. It was then that I, and I imagine every Tide fan across the globe, prayed to every deity known to man that the Iron Bowl in Jordan Hare Stadium would not come down to a kick. Naturally, it did. With the nausea setting in, Will Reichard nailed it, and we were off the college football’s new, dumb as dog shit overtime rules were teams trade 2-point conversion attempts. Both teams converted in the third OT. Nerves rapidly fraying all around.
The fourth OT came, and another Bama true freshman, defensive back Kool Aid McKinstry, made a great play to knock down a Finley pass. This was it, the chance to escape this hellscape with a win. What ensued was, well…
And that was that. A game that should have been over after the first quarter finally ended, with the boys in crimson coming out on top. Tweets were made. SO MANY tweets were maid. Bama fans argued amongst themselves about what the appropriate reaction was to that game that had just ended. Should they be happy with the win? Should they be disappointed that the offense looked inept until the final 90 seconds of regulation?
The answer is yes. Just yes. We should feel all of these emotions. It’s ok to be upset at the performance. It is indeed possible to both be angered at the performance while also being elated with the win. There’s a Facebook memory of mine that pops up around this time of year, from 2012. It simply says, “This is my least favorite Ravens team ever.” That team was mired in the muck that was Cam Cameron’s offense, and had recently blown a chance to clinch the AFC North by losing to Chaz Batch and the Steelers. That same team later went on to win the Super Bowl, led by Joe Flacco having maybe the best postseason of any QB in the history of the NFL.
I’m not saying this Bama team will go on to win another National Championship. They might, though. They also might lose to Georgia in next week’s SEC Championship Game 17-3, with 89 yards of total offense. Or they could solve the riddle that is the Georgia defense and put up 500+ yards and make everyone that isn’t a Bama fan cry into their pillow that Alabama will once again be in the CFP.
Look, this sport we all love is just so, so dumb. The Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State was ended when the Cowboys got a sack from a player lying on his stomach. So, just take it all in stride and enjoy the ride. Exhale, get your tweets out, dance like Miss Terry, and get ready for what’s next.
Oh, and be sure to troll the shit out of every Auburn fan you know. Roll mother fucking Tide, baby.