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A spirit that is not afraid

Plainsman's Choice 2022 Best Sporting Event: 2021 Iron Bowl

Auburn University takes on the University of Alabama on Nov. 27, 2021, in Auburn, Ala.
Auburn University takes on the University of Alabama on Nov. 27, 2021, in Auburn, Ala.

Some of the best memories come out of agony and defeat. Ask some Auburn students why they chose the 2021 Iron Bowl as this year's best sporting event, and there‘s a good chance that’s what they will say.

After being held in Tuscaloosa in 2020 with coronavirus restrictions barring a full capacity stadium, the build-up to this year's Iron Bowl was unlike any in recent memory.

The Tigers' season hit a rocky patch coming into the game leaving many students, alumni and fans hopeless that they’d be able to pull out a win against their rivals. But, as most sports fans will say, in a rivalry game, one might as well throw out the teams' records.

The Tigers struck first halfway through the second quarter after a physical and emotional start. The Tide was unable to strike back going into halftime, leaving Jordan-Hare erupting. 

The fans' energy continued to be high. From above, all fans could see was a sea of orange and blue shakers being whipped and thrown around. From the inside, students were screaming and chanting at the top of their lungs, nearly every one of them on their feet. Little did the students and fans know that they’d have to be on their feet and screaming for a few more hours.

Thanks to an Alabama rally, the fourth quarter ended in a tie. What followed was history as the game continued into four overtimes. 

Never before has an Iron Bowl taken so long to decide a winner. 

While Auburn fans remained hopeful throughout most of the game, Alabama out-battled Auburn, pulling off the win by two points. 

Students stood in the stands; students sat in the stands. The student section didn’t empty for minutes after the game as everyone tried to process what they had just witnessed. Their jaws were on the ground. Tears streamed down faces. Students leaving the game also left their voices and hearts in the stadium. 

A group of seniors sat in the stadium after it emptied, soaking in their last moments in the student section. No one had imagined that ending. And while the pain is still felt throughout campus, Plainsman readers agree that the highs everyone experienced in that game outshines the ending. 

History was made. So while Auburn sports has had many notable athletic experiences this year, the history made at the Iron Bowl and the feelings that came with it will stick with people for a long time. The 2021 Iron Bowl will likely go down as one of the greatest for years and this is why readers voted the 2021 Iron Bowl as the best sporting event this year. 

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