2020 is most lopsided year for ‘Bama-Auburn football rivalry of Malzahn era

Auburn football at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, November 30, 2019.
Auburn football at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, November 30, 2019. /

Auburn football may have just been on the worse end of the most lopsided year ever for the Tigers-Tide cross-town rivalry with Alabama.

The 2020 Iron Bowl is just one of many reasons why this year has been the most lopsided year in the Alabama-Auburn football rivalry–at least in the now-concluded Gus Malzahn era.

The 42-13 beatdown at the hands of ‘Bama on November 28th would be the low-point of any usual season, especially with how thoroughly the Tide’s offense dominated Kevin Steele’s defense with head coach Nick Saban missing the contest due to COVID-19:

"The player of the game clearly was Tide quarterback Mac Jones, who completed 18 of 26 passes for 302 yards and five touchdowns to three different receivers. DeVonta Smith (seven receptions, 171 yards) and John Metchie III (six receptions, 55 yards) caught two apiece. Jahleel Billingsley (two catches, 33 yards) also caught one. Running back Najee Harris was impressive as well, rushing 11 times for 96 yards and a score."

Not this year, though.

While the Tide were steamrolling every single opponent on the schedule, beating Florida, Georgia, and Texas A&M by a combined 51 points, Auburn was barely holding on to beat the likes of Arkansas (who Alabama beat 52-3), Ole Miss (Who Alabama beat 63-48) and actually had the gall to lose to Will Muschamp’s South Carolina Gamecocks.

To further the one-sided nature of the SEC’s premier rivalry, Alabama recently had eight players named to the AP All-American first team…while Auburn football failed to register a single player on any of the three AP All-American squads:

"The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide notched six Associated Press All-America first-team selections for the 2020 season, the most of any team, the AP announced Monday.Quarterback Mac Jones, wideout DeVonta Smith, running back Najee Harris, offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, center Landon Dickerson and cornerback Patrick Surtain II are Alabama’s first-team selections."

While both teams will be playing on New Year’s Day, the stakes are considerably different for The Heart of Dixie’s top two universities. The Tigers–stuck between the last goodbyes of the Gus Malzahn era and the implementation of the Bryan Harsin era–take on the #14-ranked Northwestern Wildcats in the Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The War Eagle will be part of the limited capacity crowd as the team looks to begin the new year with a win against a B1G 10 program (2-2 since 2010 in bowl games against the conference).

On the other hand, Alabama has a national championship to win and will likely use Notre Dame as a springboard to the title game. Whether it’s Trevor Lawrence’s Clemson Tigers or Justin Fields’ Ohio State Buckeyes, the Tide seem like a team of destiny.

Look no further than the coaching situations of both schools to determine how far apart these two programs were in 2020. Even when Saban–the most famous coach in college football and one of the most recognizable names in sports–was out, Steve Sarkisian stepped up and crushed an Auburn football team that was always competitive in the Iron Bowl.

Meanwhile, there was a mutiny and counter-mutiny on the Plains to #StopSteele from becoming the next head coach of the program after he was perceived to be aiming to usurp Malzahn.

I don’t know about you guys, but I hope 2021 can be defined by wins on the field and not hashtags off of it. That seems to be the difference between ‘Bama and Auburn football right now.

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