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Nostalgia Friday: 1983 Iron Bowl

By on June 13th, 2014 in Football 8 Comments »

Today we go back 31 years to 1983. Can it really have been that long? The 1983 Auburn football team remains one of my all-time favorites. It was the year Auburn broke out of its hibernation and claimed its first SEC title since 1957.

The 1983 Iron Bowl was a classic and will be forever remembered as the Bye-Bye Bo Game where Bo Jackson ripped off a pair of long runs that broke the back of Alabama and gave Auburn a 10-1 regular season record and a trip to the Sugar Bowl to face Michigan.

The 23-20 Auburn victory will also be remembered for a line of thunderstorms and a tornado warning that came roaring through in the second half. Billy Murray of ABC 33/40 Weather reflected on the contest a few years ago, writing, “Legion Field Public Address announcer Simpson Pepper read the warning over the loudspeakers but the game was not stopped.

“By ten minutes to go in the game, the rain was coming down in torrents as Auburn tried to control the ball and win the game in the horrible conditions as they clung to a 23-20 lead. The rain began to fall so heavily that you could barely see the field on the cameras.

“Fortunately, the storm did not produce a tornado in western Birmingham, or the results would have been catastrophic. But later, the same storm dropped an F3 tornado that heavily damaged the Winn Dixie store at Oxford, killing two people. A total of seven tornadoes touched down across the state that afternoon and evening.”

The link here shows some great screen shots of the game.

Bo’s performance in the game made him the leading Heisman contender heading into the 1984 season (an award he captured in 1985) and gave the Tigers its second win in a row over Alabama.

Auburn would go on to defeat Michigan in the Sugar Bowl 9-7 and cap its best season in 26 years.


  1. uglyjoe says:

    Freshman year. First Iron Bowl. Great memory.

  2. DBAU81 says:

    I was in law school in, of all places, Tuscaloosa in 1983 and watched this game on the Birmingham ABC affiliate, which at that time was Channel 6. Normally the weather people would just interrupt regular programming completely for a tornado warning, but not so for the Iron Bowl. They just did a split screen so you could keep watching the game. Got to keep your priorities straight, after all.

  3. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I remember Walter Lewis didn’t complete a pass on Auburn in the second half of that one. I’m thinking Bama’s running backs were Ricky Moore and Kerry Goode? Anyone who went to that game went home COMPLETELY soaked!

  4. AUwaterboy AUwaterboy says:

    Thanks for posting the video of the entire game. Really enjoyed it. A true classic.

  5. mvhcpa says:

    Freshman myself in 1983…only had a teeny portable TV in my CDV Extension apartment (with roommates I couldn’t stand), so just like Georgia the game before, I went to the Foy Union lobby to watch it on the big-screen TV there.

    I remember the bye-bye-BO play; it seemed to me that Keith Jackson said “He’s GONE” (I see it was “Good-bye!” in the clip) while there was a Bama defender in front of him, but it didn’t matter, because Bo outran everyone!

    I also remember being paranoid with all the turnovers and miscues in the fourth quarter when we should have been able to put it away much more easily!

    Michael Val
    (whose dad emailed to say he just watched the clip above and noted that he really really enjoyed it!)

    • uglyjoe says:

      Michael, I lived in Alumni Hall, but I had many friends at CDV. I have lots of memories of that place, and I made many more that I don’t remember. I will bet we have stumbled across each other (me literally) before.

  6. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    1983 Will always be one of my all time favorite teams. And the tornado bowl one of my favorite Iron Bowls. Enjoyed this one Jay.