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No. 6 Auburn holds slim halftime lead over No. 1 Alabama in closely contested Iron Bowl

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The winner of the Iron Bowl has played in the national title game every year save one since 2009 and that looks like it will be the case once again given the high level of play in the first half between the two in-state rivals on the Plains this Saturday afternoon.

While the score was a bit lower than some expected coming into the game, No. 6 Auburn managed to score some points late in order to hold a slim 10-7 lead at the break and what is shaping up to be yet another classic in a series that has produced plenty of memorable moments.

Auburn’s first scoring drive began with the team backed up against their own goal line inside the 10 but several big plays (and big completions) allowed them to quickly move down to the other end of the field before running back Kerryon Johnson executed a perfect jump pass to a wide open Nate Craig-Myers just in front of the goal post. It’s not often you see Alabama’s defense give up 12 play, 94 yard drives but that was quite the scene-setter for the home side — which was fired up in the middle of the effort thanks to appearances from alums Charles Barkley and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Both sides exchanged quarterback fumbles over the next few drives before Alabama evened the scored following a key fourth down conversion just past midfield. That’s when signal-caller Jalen Hurts (4-of-8, 51 yards passing, 38 yards rushing) tossed a 36 yard bomb to Jerry Jeudy in the back of the end zone, with the young freshman creating just enough separation to haul in the touchdown and swing momentum back to the Tide’s side. In addition to the stingy defense played by Nick Saban’s team, punter J.K. Scott proved to be quite the weapon with three punts that averaged 49 yards a piece to help Alabama win the field position battle in a big way.

The visitors from Tuscaloosa do get the ball to start the second half and, while it won’t be brought up in the locker room by either coaching staff, the stakes over the final frame are absolutely massive for both sides. The winner will capture the SEC West title, a trip to Atlanta for the conference championship game and a potential berth in the College Football Playoff so it goes without saying that the pressure is about to be turned up several notches in the next few hours.

Nick Saban named one of Fortune’s ‘World’s Greatest Leaders’

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It’s not often you can put a college football coach and the leader of Catholicism in one post and it make sense, but this is one of those situations.

Thursday, Fortune magazine announced its third annual, 50-person-strong list of “World’s Greatest Leaders.”  Just one college football head coach made the exclusive list: Alabama’s Nick Saban at No. 11, ahead of the likes of U2 frontman and philanthropist Bono (No. 14), Blackrock CEO Larry Fink (No. 21), Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez (No. 24), Argentine president Maurizio Macri (No. 26), the first women to graduate from Ranger School (No. 34), the heads of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (No. 41) and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (No. 48).

Not only is Saban the only college coach to make the exclusive list — there’s at least one other SEC connection, though: Auburn grad and Apple CEO Tim Cook — he’s one of only three associated with any type of sports, period.  The other two?  The Golden State Warriors duo of Steve Kerr and Steph Curry at No. 15.

“In business, government, philanthropy and the arts, and all over the globe, these men and women are transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same,” the magazine wrote in describing its endeavor. Below is the blurb attached to Saban’s selection:

The dynasty was over. That was the consensus of the pundits after Alabama’s 43–37 loss to Ole Miss in its third game of the season last September. The famed “process” that Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, 64, had used to win three national titles in football at Bama—while boosting graduation rates—and one at LSU had run its course, and the competition had caught up. Saban challenged his team: “How are you going to respond?” When Alabama defeated Clemson 45–40 for another title on Jan. 11, 2016, he had his answer, and the dynasty—and Saban’s legacy as a leader—remained intact.

As for the 10 individuals who merited spots above Saban? Here you go…

1. Jeff Bezos (CEO, Amazon)
2. Angela Merkel (Chancellor, Germany)
3. Aung San Suu Kyi (Leader, National League for Democracy)
4. Pope Francis (Pontiff, Roman Catholic Church)
5. Cook
6. John Legend (Recording artist and activist, The Show Me Campaign)
7. Christiana Figueres (Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change)
8. Paul Ryan (Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives)
9. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court)
10. Sheikh Hasina (Prime Minister, Bangladesh)