Alabama’s 63-7 victory over Georgia State Thursday night may have been the exception to the Crimson Tide’s 24-hour rule.
While most games allow Alabama to enjoy a win or grieve a loss for one day, some of the Tide players may have had their eyes set on the next opponent before the blowout of the Panthers even ended.
“Our attention might have been on [Auburn] a little bit already, mischievously so,” said senior quarterback Greg McElroy. “I think we’re ready for them. We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great challenge.”
It will likely be the Tide’s biggest challenge of the season. Similar to Alabama last year, Auburn heads into the Iron Bowl on the road with an 11-0 record and the clear favorite for the Heisman Trophy.
Although the reversal of roles from last year’s rivalry game is apparent, McElroy insists that the focus heading into next week’s game will not be about ruining the Tigers’ perfect season.
“It’s not necessarily about spoiling their season,” McElroy said. “It’s finishing our season on a high note. We’ve had some ups and downs on the road this year, without a doubt, but beating those guys would probably be icing on the cake in terms of how the season finished out.”
To finish the regular season with a win, however, the Tide must stop an offense led by Heisman front runner Cam Newton that averages 42.8 points per game.
Newton has been the center of attention recently because of allegations that he left Florida while facing academic misconduct penalties for cheating and that he received cash to play for Auburn this season.
As the NCAA investigates these allegations, multiple Alabama players said they hope Newton is on the field when Auburn comes to Tuscaloosa.
“I don’t want to play them when they’re not at their best,” said junior safety Mark Barron, “and I feel like when they have him, they are at their best. Anytime you get a chance to go up against great athletes, that’s exciting to me.”
Although Alabama’s title hopes for this season are gone, stopping Newton and the Tigers from completing the national championship-Heisman sweep like the Tide did last year would be special, especially given the intensity of the rivalry.
“It probably means more to us than it does the fans,” McElroy said. “All the time and effort that we’ve put into our season, with it all kind of coming down to one game, we just want to make the most of every opportunity. We were able to do that [against Georgia State], and hopefully we’ll be able to do it next Friday.”