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Iron Bowl 2013: Similarities to 1972 season are striking

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Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 10:38 am

Auburn, ranked high in the country, comes into the Iron Bowl with only one defeat – that being a somewhat lopsided loss to LSU. 

Alabama comes into the contest on the cusp of another National Championship under a legendary coach.

Think I’m referring to the 2013 Iron Bowl? 

Not really. I make reference to the situation that resulted in perhaps the greatest victory in Auburn football history. 

I am referring to the 1972 game in which Auburn blocked two fourth quarter punts (and a first half extra point attempt) en route to a 17-16 victory. 

The similarities between that year and this year are striking.

Auburn’s win sent the team to the Gator Bowl, where a victory over Colorado resulted in a top five national ranking under legendary coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan. 

Alabama entered the game ranked No. 2 in the nation but the team’s national title hopes under Paul “Bear” Bryant were derailed in Birmingham that day.

The thing that I remember about the famous “Punt Bama Punt” game is that I had so little faith in Auburn that day. I was working as a reporter for The Columbus Ledger and hitched a ride home on the airplane the photographers had flown up to Birmingham in. 

Alabama was leading 16-3 and headed goal-ward when the photographers had to leave to print photos for Sunday’s newspapers. 

Rather than face the humiliation of defeat, I begged a ride on the plane to get my you-know-what out of Birmingham. 

In doing so, I missed the most notable couple of plays in Auburn sports history. 

I listened to the punts being blocked on the radio, high above Lake Martin.

Commentators are labeling the 2013 contest as the most meaningful Auburn-Alabama game in history. 

Twice before in the modern era -- 1971 and 1994 -- both teams have entered the contests unbeaten, but this is the first time since the Southeastern Conference split into divisions in 1992 that the teams have met with the winner representing the West in the championship game.

Auburn has played in the SEC championship game four times (1997, 2000, 2004 and 2010) during the past 20 years and Alabama eight times.

Of course, even greater rewards than a conference championship could await the winner. 

With Baylor and Oregon losing this past weekend, Auburn jumped to No. 4 in the BCS rankings as the highest one-loss team in the country.

An Auburn victory over Alabama and a win over either Missouri or South Carolina in the championship game could send Auburn to Pasadena to play for the Tigers’ second National Championship in a four-year period.  

My prediction? Well, I am not going to jinx Auburn, but I will say this. 

I have more confidence in the 2013 team than I did the 1972 squad that forever enshrined itself in Auburn football lore.

War Eagle!

—Auburn attorney Don Eddins is managing partner of The Auburn Villager, LLC, which operates The Auburn Villager newspaper and auburnvillager.com. Email him your comments about the publications to doneddins@auburnlaw.us.

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