If Auburn commissions a commemorative video of last Saturday's 9-0 victory over Alabama, which put the Tigers in the SEC Championship Game against Florida, it ought to bring in the Weather Channel as the coproducer. The front that dumped sleet and rain on Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa turned the Iron Bowl into the Mud Bowl, the ideal venue for Auburn junior tailback Rudi Johnson (below), who rushed 13 times for 47 yards in the final quarter and was the main reason that the Tigers held on to the ball for more than 12 of the final 15 minutes (and nearly 38 minutes overall). Johnson finished with 37 carries for 130 yards, only five fewer than Alabama produced.
In the fourth quarter Auburn received some rousing news on the sideline: In similarly miserable conditions some 75 miles west of Tuscaloosa, Arkansas had upset Mississippi State 17-10 in overtime. The Bulldogs, who had defeated the Tigers 17-10 on Oct. 7, would have been one win from gaining the SEC West championship with a victory. Instead, 9-2 Auburn clinched the crown by beating Alabama. When Mississippi State's loss was finally announced over the public address system as the Tigers celebrated on the field after their game, the 10,500 Auburn fans in the Crimson Tide's home stadium roared.
If the air in Tuscaloosa seemed especially chilly to the home side—"I've never in my life been that cold," said Alabama receiver Antonio Carter—it was only appropriate for a team that closed out the failed (24-23) tenure of coach Mike DuBose with a 3-8 season. None of the visitors complained. As Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said, "The weather was conducive to what we do."