AUBURN, Ala. –- How did Alabama Crimson Tide’s national championship register down on the Plains?
Put it this way: There wasn’t any celebrating when the Crimson Tide won back in January, and there’s not much of a “wow” factor now as the Tigers conclude their second week of spring practice.
In fact, the Tigers don’t necessarily see the Crimson Tide as that team that went 14-0 and smothered Texas in the BCS National Championship Game. Rather, they see them as that team they had down 14-0 in Jordan-Hare Stadium last November and that team that needed a 15-play, 79-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes to escape what would have been one of the biggest upsets in Iron Bowl history.
“I congratulate them on their national championship,” Auburn senior linebacker Josh Bynes said. “But at the same time, if one play goes differently, we could have won the Iron Bowl. Of course, it didn’t go our way, and they beat us. But we know we’re right there.
“You look at coach (Nick) Saban’s first year at Alabama, and he didn’t win against us, and now all of a sudden, they’ve won two years against us and you hear all sorts of things like they’re going to own Auburn the next couple of years. I’m telling you … that’s not going to be the case.”
Bynes, one of the clear leaders on Auburn’s team, stopped short of making any predictions.
But he did offer this: “We know for a fact that we’re a better team now than we were the year before, and we’re going to go out there and play at a level 20 times higher than we did before, especially defensively.
“It’s going to be a different feel around that game from now on, and with Alabama winning the national championship, it’s going to be even higher expectations. There’s nothing like beating the previous year’s national champion, and there ain’t nothing like winning the Iron Bowl.”
Who says it’s not a rivalry that’s played 365 days a year?
See you in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 26.