On Saturday, Auburn (3-8) and Alabama (10-1) will meet in Tuscaloosa for the 77th Iron Bowl matchup. The path to the BCS National Championship game has gone through Tuscaloosa and Auburn every year since 2009.
Nothing is different this year, as Alabama finds itself right back in the thick of the national championship picture after No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon fell last Saturday evening.
In the latest BCS poll, Alabama was No. 2, just behind No. 1 Notre Dame.
A win over Auburn this weekend in Tuscaloosa will plant Alabama in the SEC championship game for the first time since 2009, and most will consider the Tide the favorites to go to their second-straight national championship game in Miami.
Auburn will be attempting to wreck the Tide's BCS championship hopes by pulling off an unbelievable upset; Alabama is as high as a 34-point favorite over Auburn.
The old adage in sports is that you can "throw out the records" in rivalry games.
That may be true in some rivalry games, but in the Iron Bowl, it is hardly the case; the higher-ranked team nearly always wins.
According to Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News, the team with the better record entering the Iron Bowl has won close to 70 percent of the time.
Team w/ better record wins about 70%. RT @jzenor Saban: "You can throw everything out the window as far as records" for Auburn game— Jon Solomon (@jonsol) November 17, 2012
Over the last 20 years (since 1992), the higher-ranked team has won 80 percent of the time. Upsets occurred in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Some notable games hold true to the lack of upsets in the Iron Bowl.
Look at 1971, when both Auburn and Alabama came into the Iron Bowl undefeated. Bear Bryant's Alabama team was No. 2 in the country, and the Pat Sullivan-led Tigers were No. 5 in the country.
Despite both having records that were unblemished, Alabama came away with the victory, 31-7.
There's also 2009, when Auburn dominated the eventual national champions for nearly 58 minutes. Greg McElroy led the Tide on "The Drive" (version 1) to defeat the Auburn Tigers (7-5) in head coach Gene Chizik's first season.
In 2010, Auburn had already wrapped up the SEC West and came into Tuscaloosa ranked No. 2 in the country; Alabama was ranked No. 9. Despite being down 24-0, Auburn stormed back in the second half and won, 28-27.
Now, of course there are a few upsets.
The Iron Bowl wouldn't be as fierce of a rivalry if it didn't have at least a couple.
Auburn fans will point to the game known as "17-16" and "Punt Bama Punt" in 1972 to give them hope for this weekend.
The second-ranked and undefeated Crimson Tide led by 16 points going into the fourth quarter. With a 13-point lead and just over five minutes left, Auburn stormed back with two blocked punts that were returned for TDs to ruin the Tide's national title hopes.
There's also 1989, when Alabama visited the Plains for the first time in the Iron Bowl's history. Alabama was again ranked No. 2, but Auburn defeated the Tide, 30-20.
As recently as 2002, Auburn pulled off an upset in the Iron Bowl that would begin the Tigers' longest winning streak in the series. Tre Smith led the Tigers to a 17-7 win against then No. 9 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
An Auburn upset this weekend would top all three of these games and would turn the college football world upside down.
Will it happen?
History says that it most likely won't.
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