The Iron Bowl. Arguably the best rivalry in college football, and the 2019 version was nothing short of electric. It had big plays, several lead changes, and heartbreak for one sideline.
Auburn won the game 48-45, in the highest scoring Iron Bowl since Alabama won 55-44 in 2014. Offense and special teams highlighted the game, with the teams combining for over 850 yards.
For the Crimson Tide, the most dangerous player on the field was Jaylen Waddle. He accounted for three out of the four receiving touchdowns for Alabama, totaling 98 yards in receptions. Not only was he a threat running routes, but following an Auburn pick six, he ran the kickoff back 98 yards to tie the game.
However, the most dangerous player for Auburn: a kicker out of Colorado Springs. How about an applause for Anders Carlson, who had ice in his veins tonight for the Tigers. He put his recent struggles aside, was a perfect four-for-four in field goals, and did not miss an extra point. Totaling 16 of Auburn’s points, Carlson’s field goals ended up being the difference in tonight’s game.
“He had a big time night”, head coach Gus Malzahn said “We talked all year ‘Man, you’re [Carlson] going to win a game for us’ and tonight he did that”.
Malzahn had high praise for Carlson, who knocked down field goals from 43, 52, 43, and 44 yards out. Carlson tied the Iron Bowl record for longest field goal (52 yards) on a chaotic play involving one-second on the clock, nothing new for Auburn special teams.
The first half was originally over, with time expiring on a Boobee Whitlow run. Malzahn kept his offense on the field, arguing that there was one second left on the clock. Bo Nix and company remained on the field while Nick Saban and Alabama headed to the locker room assuming it was halftime. The play went under review, and sure enough, Malzahn got his second back. While Alabama headed to the locker room, the field goal unit prepared for the last-second kick. The Tigers got the snap off, and Carlson sent it through the uprights.
“That’s something we practiced so much, we were ready for it and I’m glad we got the chance,” Carlson said.
Auburn opened the second half on defense, forcing a three and out to get the ball back. The Tiger offense drove down the field, and it was back to the Anders Carlson show. He then hit a 43-yard field goal to bring Auburn within one. That field goal was his third straight field goal made from 40 yards out in the game. Coming into the game, he had missed the last six from that distance.
“I’m confident in what I do, sometimes it doesn’t go your way. The lesson you have to learn is to bounce back, just keep going,” Carlson said.
No doubt field goals were the difference tonight, as Alabama missed the thirty yard attempt to tie the game with two minutes remaining. Anders Carlson’s career high four field goals could not have come in a bigger game, a fitting situation for the kicker whose parents and grandparents are Alabama fans.