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Auburn's Iron Bowl celebration for the ages


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From Tim Cook to Jarrett Stidham, Auburn's Iron Bowl celebration for the ages


After another fourth-down stop late in the game, this one all but guaranteeing an Auburn win, Kristi Malzahn sidled over to Apple CEO Tim Cook and gave him a big hug.

It was that kind of Saturday night in Auburn. Everyone was giving and receiving hugs.

Cook, perhaps the tech world's biggest star, gladly shook hands, took selfies and hugged everyone who came his way as the crowd rushed the field to celebrate Auburn's thrilling 26-14 win over No. 1 Alabama. Cook, who heartily cheered on his Tigers on the sidelines, got up to the edge of the massive celebratory scrum in the middle of the field before wisely turning around -- seemingly at the advice of his security team -- and deciding it was best to avoid the mosh pit at the 50-yard line. For the sake of all future Apple innovations, it's probably a good thing he did.

But many forged ahead at the expense of Jordan-Hare Stadium's poor hedges and a $250,000 hit to Auburn's bank account, leaving a trail of broken branches and empty miniature liquor bottles. They swarmed star quarterback Jarrett Stidham as he navigated the masses looking for girlfriend Kennedy Brown who flew in from Baylor for the Iron Bowl. Stidham delighted an exuberant crowd around him with a kiss with Brown, leaving an eyeblack mark just below Brown's right eye. Jeff Holland, also known as "Sensei Mud," could barely move so many people wanted to take selfies with him; there had to have been tens of thousands of selfies taken on the field, many, of course, with Apple iPhones. 


Auburn leaves no doubt as the better team owns the Iron Bowl

Auburn leaves no doubt as the better team owns the Iron Bowl

Auburn 26, Alabama 14 was no upset. It was plain to see. For the second time in 15 days, the Tigers were better than the No. 1 team.


"Party Till We Die" blasted from the speakers, and it felt entirely apropos. Minutes after knocking off the school's top rival, Auburn faithful looked like they could sing and dance all night long in Jordan-Hare Stadium if allowed. There was a cathartic nature to the celebration as Auburn knocked off Alabama for the first time since the famous 2013 Kick Six game. In the following three years, Alabama went to the College Football Playoff every year including a national title win in 2015 while the Tigers went 23-16 and there were questions about Gus Malzahn's long-term future on the Plains. Auburn fans, not always the most optimistic bunch, needed a triumph like Saturday night. They celebrated like they were sick of hearing how great Alabama had been during that stretch. 

And, boy, did the students seem to enjoy singing along to "Dixieland Delight" - a song no longer played in Bryant-Denny Stadium - as the last of the sad Alabama fans exited the stadium. A few fans grumbled about rushing the field in a game both teams were ranked in the top six, but players and recruits alike seemed to love the scene. Disney World might be the happiest place on Earth but Auburn was certainly the happiest -- and loveliest -- village on Earth after the Iron Bowl. 

"I've never felt something like (that)," said receiver Nate Craig-Myers. "In high school, you have state championships but seeing those fans running down, that's the best feeling ever."

From the opening kickoff, it was a raucous atmosphere inside Jordan-Hare. It was loud throughout the game, and it played at least a small role in Alabama looking sloppy, even rattled. There were uncharacteristic mistakes like botched snaps and delay of game penalties for the Crimson Tide. Alabama head coach Nick Saban admitted going to silent counts -- a necessity in environments like the one on Saturday -- are a "little bit more difficult for offensive players." Auburn players like Myers and safety Carlton Davis both said the team fed off the crowd's energy.

"The fans here I think are the best fans in the land," said safety Carlton Davis. "We are so happy and appreciative to have them because they really do impact the game."

On a perfect Saturday on the Plains, Auburn looked like it had both the best team and fans in the SEC. And that was worth celebrating, hugs and all. 

John Talty is the college sports editor for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JTalty. 

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