In his first season on the plains, head coach Hugh Freeze has the Auburn Tigers at 6-5 entering the 2023 Iron Bowl, which matches previous coach Bryan Harsin’s best season win total in 2021. Harsin finished 6-7 that year and was fired after eight games in his second year, 2022, with the team at 3-5.
So needless to say, the Tigers seem to be on the up-and-up; especially with Freeze’s track record in turning around programs. Year one hasn’t been the best for Freeze at his last two stops as head coach, but he does usually get things rolling in year two. In year one at Ole Miss in 2012, Freeze went 7-6, and in year one at Liberty University in 2016, Freeze went 5-7.
In year two however, Freeze’s programs typically start to take off as he has a combined record of 18-6 in year two at his last two stops as head coach.
This is important to note because at this point, Freeze has been the head coach at Auburn for nearly a full calendar year. Freeze was announced as the 31st coach in program history on November 28th, 2022. And after a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season, the Tigers seem to be reflecting more of that “year two-look” with Freeze as they’re currently 3-1 in their last four games. In the three games that they’ve’ won during this period, they’ve outscored those opponents 106-38.
With Freeze’s hiring coming nearly a year ago, Freeze will get his first crack at defeating in-state rival Alabama this coming Saturday in the annual Iron Bowl. So while Freeze has struggled in year one when taking over a program, the Tide are essentially catching him in year two, and the team looks drastically different than they did at the start of the season where they were 3-4 through their first seven games. With that being said, there’s a strong possibility that the Tigers get things done at home this year and upset the Crimson Tide.
Here are two reasons it’s reasonable to think the Auburn Tigers can upset the Crimson Tide in the 2023 Iron Bowl:
How Auburn can beat Alabama in the 2023 Iron Bowl
Year one Last Game – In Freeze’s first year as head coach with Arkansas State University in 2011, Ole Miss in 2012 and Liberty University in 2019, he’s 3-0 in his last regular season game. Not only that, but Freeze’s teams have outscored opponents 135-66 in those matchups. And oh yeah – the game is in Auburn.
Hugh Freeze’s Success Against Nick Saban – Hugh Freeze is 2-3 all-time against Nick Saban from his time at Ole Miss. Freeze is the only SEC West coach besides Gus Malzahn and Les Miles who has beaten the Tide at least twice. Freeze defeated the Tide in back-to-back years in 2014 and 2015 beating them in Oxford one year, and Tuscaloosa the next. There’s a reason Auburn hired Freeze, and this could very well be it.
If the Tigers are able to pull off the upset, the Tide will still be in Atlanta to face the Georgia Bulldogs for the SEC Championship, but this would end any hopes Alabama has at making the college football playoff with a loss earlier to the Texas Longhorns this season.