40-Year CFB Anniversary: Jackson Goes “Over the Top” as Auburn Beats Alabama, 23-22

A rivalry that dates back to 1893, there have been six Iron Bowls decided by a single point. One of the most memorable came on this day 40 years ago.

A freshman at the time, it may be the day that Auburn running back Bo Jackson became a household name. With less than three minutes to go, Jackson leaped over the top of the pile to lift the Tigers to a 23-22 win over arch-rival Alabama.

Setting the Stage

In the top 10 for most of the season, Alabama was looking to halt a 2-game losing streak as it arrived at Legion Field in Birmingham on Nov. 27, 1982. The Crimson Tide were unranked at 7-3 after consecutive losses to LSU and Southern Mississippi.

Under second-year head coach Pat Dye, the Tigers were also 7-3 and unranked. Auburn was looking to avoid a 10th straight loss to rival Alabama.

“Bo Over the Top”

With the clock ticking under three minutes, the contest had seemingly came down to one play. With Alabama leading 22-17, the Tigers faced 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard-line.

Alabama knew what was coming. Stopping it was another story.

Jackson finished with 144 yards rushing, but it was a 1-yard rush that those in the Yellowhammer State will remember. On the game’s decisive carry, Jackson leaped over the top and into the end zone with 2:21 to play.

Alabama would get two more possessions, but could do nothing with them despite nearly doubling the Tigers’ offensive output for the day. An interception by Auburn safety Bob Harris ultimately sealed the win.


In Hindsight

After closing the regular season with three straight losses, Alabama bounced back to win the Liberty Bowl over Illinois in what would be legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s final game. At 8-4, the Crimson Tide finished 17th in the Coaches Poll.

After beating Boston College in the Tangerine Bowl to finish 9-3, Auburn finished No. 14 in the final polls. The win over Alabama not only stopped a 9-game skid in the rivalry, but it changed the trajectory of it. With Bryant retired, Auburn closed the 1980s by winning six of eight. The closest and arguably the most memorable of those came on this day four decades ago.

Photo: Auburn/Collegiate Images/Getty images

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.