A time-honored tradition in the Southeast, the Iron Bowl is widely recognized as one of college football’s greatest rivalries. Named after the former Birmingham steel industry, the competition has been held between and 87 times and frequently features the eventual Southeastern Conference representative from the West Division.
Last year the Iron Bowl was a bit scary for No. 3 Alabama, where Heisman quarterback Bryce Young and a team that would go on to play in the national championship needed four overtimes to eventually defeat the unranked Tigers.
Young had no interest in making the game that exciting in his third and final Iron Bowl.
The top quarterback pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL draft completed 20 of 30 passes for 343 yards, three touchdowns and a garbage time interception to lead the Crimson Tide to a 49-27 win over the Tigers. Young added five carries for 48 yards and an extra touchdown on the ground in a game that highlighted everything he wants to take to the next level.
Earlier this Saturday afternoon, Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud struggled to find the rhythm, showing a relative reluctance, if not an utter inability, to produce from structure. Young did the opposite. He was a consistent spark for the Alabama offense, consistently making the right play both on the ground and in the air. The Crimson Tide only had nine third-down opportunities in play, and they converted six of them.
For Young, the game was characterized by the pocket presence and accuracy that leave NFL scouts stumped if his game caliber can truly outweigh the tiny frame he’s likely to bring to the league. His pocket composure, game expansion and stability continue to highlight a player likely to find success in today’s NFL.
Many NFL mock drafts currently have General Manager Nick Caserio picking the quarterback with his first overall pick and using their additional 11 draft picks to bolster the roster around the new signal caller. It seems Young has finally split from the pack.
Even ESPN senior draft analyst Todd McShay commented on the night what sets Young and current Heisman Trophy leader Caleb Williams apart from college football’s other quarterbacks right now.
The USC signal caller is not eligible until the 2024 NFL draft and is likely to start a tanking marathon with many teams interested in securing the young quarterback’s services. Houston seems to be in a very fortunate position where they probably won’t have to participate since they’ve already secured the services of the most talented quarterback of the Nick Saban era.
Young and his teammates will have to sit at home this weekend and likely watch as LSU is beaten by Georgia during the SEC championship game. A New Year’s Six Bowl is definitely still in the game, but they need help if there’s any hope of making the college football playoffs.
Meanwhile, Houston fans can keep a close eye on whether Young or teammate Will Anderson decide to sit out the bowl season and prepare for the upcoming draft. There’s a good chance the two will dominate offseason storylines.
Story originally appeared on Texans Wire