Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

GAMEDAY: Remember the Iron Bowl–2009


The three ran out with confidence about the mission at hand, but they were not praised by the crowd. Instead, they were showered with boos. The jeers mounted – 87,000 strong, as the home crowd of Jordan-Hare stadium hated no team more than the Alabama Crimson Tide.

“I love it; It is great feeling as a player, I think, to know that all you have is your brothers with you, the guys lining up next to you,” Jones said. “I love the intensity that we always had when we played there against those guys. We always knew it was going to be a big game.”

Up until the Iron Bowl, Alabama had a perfect 2009 regular season. Just the year before, Alabama was in the same boat but lost to Florida in the SEC championship, which was followed by a disappointing letdown to Utah in the Sugar Bowl. The team seethed for a second chance against Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. Selman and Anders were just one game away from that rematch, and nobody was going to get in the way, especially that school just 150 miles away.

“Leading up to that game, I felt like for 365 days we were on a collision course with Florida, but at no point was anybody focused solely on Florida all the way up to the game as a, opposed to just earning the right to play Florida again, and I think that was the mentality we took,” Selman said. “That was [a] very, very close team across any dynamic that you can put across a team, and that’s the way we played. So coming through that season coming into the Iron Bowl, I think we were taking care of business one step at a time.”

Auburn University brought a playbook from the magic shop. The Tigers first series Terrell Zachary was pitched a reverse, and he weaved in and out of crimson tacklers for a 67-yard touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, the Auburn players looked to huddle and then broke off running to catch the Alabama return team off-guard. The ball bounced right back into Auburn’s kicker Wes Byrum’s hands.

See also: Remember the Iron Bowl-2010

Then-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, found another trick inside the playbook. On second-and-15, running back Ben Tate lined up for a direct snap. Instead of running the ball, he passed it to quarterback Chris Todd who was lined up as a receiver. Todd, still behind the line of scrimmage, threw a pass of his own for a 22-yard completion to Darvin Adams. Todd capped the drive off with a touchdown pass, and in the blink of an eye, the No. 2 Crimson Tide was in a 0-14 hole.

“In 2009, we had to overcome literally the kitchen sink from them offensively,” Selman said. “We just had to keep fighting. We just had to keep punching and keep punching and keep punching. And that is what we were. We were heavyweight boxers. We were slugging it out. We were going to go the distance with you, and at the end of the day, we felt like we were going to be the one standing.”

For the Crimson Tide, it was a heavyweight fight for the rest of the game. Alabama was able to battle back at 14-14, but then Auburn was poised to respond and was about to cross into Alabama territory. Then Anders threw a punch of his own.

“The play before that, I actually had a pass interference call on me. In football, things that are outside of your control are going to happen, and it is all about how you bounce back and how you react to adversity,” Anders said. “I kind of just bit down on my mouth piece, and they called a blitz. I was able to hit Chris Todd, and he fumbled, and it was a big momentum change. It gave us the breath we needed. Sometimes, you just need a spark and perhaps that may have been a spark we needed to rally back and end up coming back to win the game.”

The game did not end, though, until one was standing and it came down to one drive, a drive that really made the definition of a heavyweight fight stick. Trailing 20-21 and with just 8:27 left on the clock, Alabama got the ball on its own 21-yard line. The offense slowly but assuredly moved the ball while simultaneously, it chewed the clock up.

“It was a great drive,” Jones said. “I think we all understood that our season was on the line. That we had to do something, and it definitely was a special feeling. Just looking into each other’s eyes and knowing that we were doing something special, especially after it was over. It probably was the most fun drive I have ever been a part of.”

The drive came to a head, when Alabama had a third-and-three at the 4-yard line. Alabama had burned seven minutes off the clock, and then came the play that still is replayed on the Jumbotron at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Jim McElwain drew up a play-action that faked a hand-off to Trent Richardson. Senior fullback Roy Upchurch rolled out into the flat and was wide open for a pass from Greg McElroy to take a 26-21 lead.

It was the final punch that landed the hardest. With just a 1:24 left, driving the field one more time proved to be too much of a challenge for Auburn.

“Typically, when the offense is on the field and the defense is on the bench, we are catching a breather, getting some water, drawing up plays and what not. On this particular drive, everybody was amped up, nobody was sitting down and the crowd was going nuts,” Anders said. “What makes it even better is that they threw the ball to Roy Upchurch. He came in with me as a senior that year. He’s a close, personal friend of mine, and to see Roy make the game-winning catch was pretty great.”

The win was big for Alabama, as it got that second chance at Florida. The Crimson Tide beat No. 1 Florida 32-13 and claimed a spot in the BCS national title against Texas. Anders and Selman finished their seasons perfectly, as national champs.

Selman believes that this year’s team has the same grit of ’09. The team is on a similar path. If Alabama beats Auburn on Nov. 28, then it will once again be playing Florida for a SEC title. A shot at the national title is once again on the line. For the 2015 Alabama team, only Auburn once again stands in between them and that shot.

“This team is the same way. They are heavyweight boxers, “ Selman said. “There is no vanity. They are just to go out and hit you. You know as soon as you show up at the stadium or you, as soon as hear that they are on the schedule, you are signing up to get punched in the mouth. It’s not necessarily where we have been the last couple of years, but that is what is so fun to watch about this team. They are going to punch people.”

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