The Iron Bowl has given us several great moments and figures since the series began over 125 years ago. From Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa to Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, legends like head coach Nick Saban, Bear Bryant, Pat Dye and Ralph Jordan, who coined the Iron Bowl name in 1964, staked their reputations on beating the other Yellowhammer state team.
The annual regular-season finale is great for its history as well as its SEC championship game and national title implications, but at the end of the day, these two just don’t like each other. And what’s better than beating your most hated rival?
Depending what side you’re on, some Iron Bowl moments might be the best memories you have as a fan. While there are others you want to erase for good.
Without further ado, here are the 10 most exciting plays that make the Iron Bowl college football’s greatest rivalry.
10. McElroy & Upchurch Finish “The Drive” in 2009
Down 21-20 with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy led the Tide offense from its own 21-yard line to Auburn’s 4-yard line in 14 plays. On the 15th play, McElroy found running back Roy Upchurch for the go-ahead touchdown.
McElroy’s march was coined “The Drive” and the Tide would go on to win its first national championship of the Nick Saban era.
9. Joseph Bulovas Misses Tying Field Goal in 2019
Former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s third and final victory against Bama had a spectacular finish. The Tigers were trailing 40-45 with 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Freshman Bo Nix captained the offense down the field and found running back Shaun Shivers in the end zone to give Auburn a 46-45 lead.
Malzahn elected to go for two to extend the lead to a field-goal margin. Nix hit wide receiver Shedrick Jackson, Bo Jackson’s nephew, on a stop route to go up 48-45.
Alabama responded by miking six minutes off the clock and setting up kicker Joseph Bulovas with a 30-yard field goal to tie the game. He clanked it off the left upright.
A late substitution infraction by the Tide, which I’m sure keeps Nick Saban up at night to this day, sealed the victory for Auburn.
8. Frank Sanders Falls Short in 1994
This is as controversial a call as you’ll get. Down 21-14 with under a minute remaining in the game, the Tiger offense needed to convert a fourth-and-three. Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix hit wide receiver Frank Sanders on a crossing route, and he was immediately stopped by Alabama defenders Sam Shade and Tommy Johnson.
Auburn fans thought he had the first down. Alabama fans thought they stopped him. The officials brought the chains out and ruled Sanders was less than an inch short. Football is a game of inches, and it rang especially true in the 1994 Iron Bowl game.
7. Ken Stabler’s “Run in the Mud” in 1967
The first night game in Iron Bowl history was an extra muddy affair. The Tide were trailing 3-0 in the fourth quarter when legendary Alabama quarterback Ken Stabler trudged through the elements and broke loose for a 47-yard touchdown run.
“The Run in the Mud” was the deciding score in the Crimson Tide’s 7-3 win and remains one of the greatest plays in Alabama football history.
6. “Bo Over the Top” in 1982
The Tigers were down 22-17 and faced fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line late in the final quarter. Jackson, who could jump as high as an NBA player, received the handoff and leaped over the top to give the Tigers a 23-22 advantage in what would be the deciding score.
Auburn fans point to this moment as a monumental turning point for the program.
5. “Punt, Bama, Punt” in 1972
Technically, this is two plays but we’ll roll with it. Auburn was down 16-3 with 10 minutes left in the game and forced Alabama to punt.
Bill Newton blocked the punt and David Langer scooped it up and took it the house to decrease the deficit to 16-10. Auburn forced the Tide to punt again on the next drive and it was deja vu. Newton blocked it, Langer recovered and scored, and the Tigers would go on to win 17-16 in as wild a finish as you’ll ever see.
4. Cam Newton’s “Camback” in 2010
The heavily favored Tigers found themselves down 24-0 halfway through the second quarter. Then, quarterback Cam Newton put the exclamation point on his Heisman Trophy winning season.
Newton led a furious comeback that brought the Tigers within six by the time the fourth quarter started. He led the Tigers down to Alabama’s 7-yard line in 10 plays. On the next play, he found tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen to give the Tigers a 28-27 lead in what would be the deciding touchdown.
The “Camback” kept Auburn’s SEC and national championship dreams alive.
3. “Wrong Way Bo” in 1984
Bo Jackson redefined what was possible for humans athletically. So, it was rare to see him slip up. Two years after putting his stamp on the rivalry, Jackson missed a crucial block for ball carrier Brent Fullwood on fourth-and-goal late in the game. Alabama’s defense easily stopped Fullwood and secured the 17-15 win.
To add insult to injury, Alabama’s win prevented Auburn from earning a share of the SEC Championship.
2. Van Tiffin’s “The Kick” in 1985
The 1985 Iron Bowl is what a rivalry is all about. Auburn QB Reggie Ware’s touchdown run gave the Tigers a 23-22 lead late in the game in what was the fourth lead change of the final quarter.
Alabama quarterback Mike Shula responded by leading his team to Auburn’s 35-yard line on the ensuing drive. Crimson Tide kicker Van Tiffin trotted onto the field and booted a 52-yard field goal as time expired to give Alabama the 25-23 win.
1. “The Kick Six” in 2013
Was there any other choice? This is probably the greatest sports moment I’ve ever seen in real time.
Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall found Sammie Coates for a 39-yard touchdown to tie the game at 28 apiece with 32 seconds remaining in the contest. Alabama marched to Auburn’s 38-yard line to attempt a 57-yard field goal for the win. Kicker Adam Griffith’s boot fell short, giving Chris Davis enough space to field it.
Somehow, some way, Davis found an opening and took it to the house for the game-winning touchdown. Auburn 34, Alabama 28.