Nick Saban remembers Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, the Auburn running back, from Saban’s days as the coach of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
“Ronnie Brown and Cadillac were both coming out the same time, in the same draft,” Saban recalled. “We thought they were both great competitors. He (Williams) certainly was a great competitor, and I think his personality shows in ways his team competes.”
Cadillac, the player, was a preview of Cadillac the coach, the man who turned a down-in-the-dumps Auburn football team into one that believes it can do anything – even challenge Alabama, currently No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Said Williams, “We are going to play football, Auburn football. Whether that’s Dallas Cowboys, University of Alabama, the great Nick Saban. Man, these kids ain’t gonna blink. We’re not blinking.
“We are excited. We’re excited for this opportunity,” he continued. “We want to send these seniors off, man. They deserve our best. Like I told them, us giving you our best don’t guarantee that we gonna win. But what we can do is we can look ourself in the mirror and we can be happy with whatever results happen. We’re gonna lay it on the line and see what happens.”
What will certainly happen is the Tigers are going to lean on their running game. Twice in as many games – both victories in the Carnell Williams Era – Auburn had two players with more than 100 yards rushing apiece.
Auburn’s Tank Bigsby (4) scores a touchdown during the game between Auburn and Western Kentucky last week. The Tigers’ victory left the team one win short of bowl eligibility heading into Saturday’s Iron Bowl. (Todd Van Emst / AU Athletics)
On the other side is an Alabama squad that ranks fourth in rushing defense in the Southeastern Conference. But Saban knows Williams and his warriors aren’t going to let stats and rankings seal their fate. Not in this game.
“He’s done a great job,” the Crimson Tide coach said of his counterpart. “The energy. The enthusiasm. The way the guys are competing and playing. The way they played to win. That was his personality as a player.”
Alabama comes into Saturday’s game at 2:30 p.m. on CBS with a 9-2 overall record. A win would put salve on a season that falls short of the standard Tide campaign, which usually includes a bid for the national championship.
Auburn (5-6) would become eligible to play in a bowl if it can knock off its in-state rival.
UAB couldn’t repeat its upset of 2000 as it fell 41-10 last week to No. 6 LSU. But interim head coach Bryant Vincent says that’s not the end of the Blazer season.
“We’re 29-4 at home in Birmingham (and) we’ve won the only two championships and the only two bowl games in school history,” Vincent said. “There’s a lot to be proud of, and that’s something we’re going to continue to do here. Without a doubt, this football team is driven, and this football team is focused on getting to a bowl game and getting bowl eligible.”
UAB looks to achieve bowl eligibility for a seventh straight season this Saturday in a must-win at Louisiana Tech.
Coach Vincent, Sidney Wells and Fish McWilliams addressed the media at Monday’s press conference.
— UAB Football (@UAB_FB) November 21, 2022
Troy has the inside track, but South Alabama is still in the running for a berth in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game. Troy (9-2 overall and 5-1 in the league) needs only to win at Arkansas State (3-8, 1-6) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Jaguars have the same record as the Trojans. USA, which lost to the Trojans in the Battle for the Belt, can go to the championship game with a Troy loss and the Jaguars beating Old Dominion (3-8, 2-5) at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Alabama State: The Hornets (6-4, 4-3) close out their season with their annual Turkey Day Classic at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Golden Lions arrive with a 2-8 overall record and an 0-7 record in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Class 7A: Three-time defending champion Thompson (10-3), No. 3 in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, and No. 4 Auburn (12-1) are cooling their heels this week. They wait to face one another at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30, in the first game of the Super 7 football championships at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn edged Central-Phenix City 14-13 last week and Thompson blasted Hoover 40-10.
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— Auburn High Football (@AuburnHighFB) November 20, 2022
Class 6A: No. 8 Mountain Brook (11-2) visits No. 7 Muscle Shoals (11-1) in the semifinals on Friday.
Class 5A: No. 4 Ramsay (11-2) welcomes No. 3 Pleasant Grove (11-1) to Legion Field for their semifinal meeting on Friday. The game is a rematch of Ramsay’s victory in September.
Class 4A: No. 5 Andalusia (12-1) travels to No. 1 Montgomery Catholic (13-0) in a semifinal on Friday.
Class 3A: Mobile Christian (6-7) hosts No. 7 St. James (11-2) in a semifinal on Friday. The Leopards’ losing record includes four defeats by forfeit.
Class 2A: No. 9 Pisgah (11-2) ventures to No. 1 Fyffe (13-0) in a semifinal on Friday.
Class 1A: Pickens County (10-3) greets Coosa Christian (9-4) on Friday in a semifinal.