The Opposition: Chizik talks Iron BowlBy Laura Owens | 11/20/2011 11:06pm
As Thanksgiving week approaches, so too does the Iron Bowl. With the game back to its usual Saturday kickoff, ESPN’s College Gameday is also making its way to Auburn, Ala., to see the No. 2 and No. 24 teams face off in one of the biggest rivalry games in college football.
For the Alabama football players, this week is still a normal week of practice, and it’s going to be the same in Auburn. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said the team is looking forward to the challenge they face this Saturday.
“This is a huge week and a great opportunity for us,” he said. “We’re playing a great football team, and so we’re going to go to work this week and try to get better.”
Going into the fourth quarter of Auburn’s game Saturday against Samford, Auburn held a narrow 21-13 lead. The 7-4 Tigers were able to score two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to secure a 35-16 win. But for this upcoming game, Chizik said the team will have to play even harder for a win.
“We’re going to have to play, obviously, our best game of the year to be able to have a chance to win the game,” he said. “It’s going to be another great opportunity and another huge Iron Bowl game, and we’re looking forward to it.”
While the game always has big implications for the state of Alabama, the Iron Bowl has also recently been more prominent on the national stage. With the recent release of ESPN’s documentary “Roll Tide/War Eagle,” the game could garner even more attention.
Chizik noted another reason that this rivalry has more interest.
"I think in-state here, it’s always been about as big as you can get, but I think from maybe a national perspective, just people on the outside looking in, the fact is we both won a national championship in the last two years has probably given it some extra attention,” he said.
While Auburn had some trouble with Samford, Alabama likewise had a hard time defending Georgia Southern. The Eagles scored the most of any team the Crimson Tide has played this year. However, their option offense, while revealing a weakness in Alabama’s defense, is hard to imitate, and Chizik said that’s not Auburn’s focus.
“I have watched the film, and Georgia Southern did a good job,” he said. “It’s a very difficult offense to defend because you don’t see it very often, but no, we’re going to do what we do.”