When Auburn and Alabama meet this weekend in the annual Iron Bowl matchup in Tuscaloosa, Auburn will come in as an underdog of historic proportions.
According to Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer, Alabama opened up as a 34.5-point favorite over Auburn for Saturday's contest.
Alabama opens up a 34.5-point favorite over Auburn at the Wynn.— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) November 18, 2012
At the time of publishing, the spread has dropped to 31.5 points, according to covers.com.
These two teams will be playing for vastly different purposes.
Alabama will be playing for a spot in the SEC championship game on December 1st. It will also be playing to keep its BCS national championship hopes alive.
When No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon lost last Saturday, it opened the door for then No. 4 Alabama to control its path to a second consecutive BCS National Championship game.
Auburn will be playing to spoil the national championship dreams of its bitter rival. It will also be playing for pride and for the Auburn family.
Auburn DE Dee Ford on playing Alabama: "We owe this to the Auburn people. I'm playing for the people."— Justin Hokanson (@JHokanson) November 20, 2012
Auburn comes into the Iron Bowl with a 3-8 record and no wins in the SEC. Auburn was blown out by the Georgia Bulldogs in its most recent SEC contest.
It would be pretty easy for Alabama to look ahead to its inevitable matchup against the Bulldogs the following Saturday in the SEC championship game.
As easy as it would be, it won't happen.
Bitter rivals don't overlook each other. Would Superman overlook an opportunity to put a beating of historic proportions on arch-nemesis Lex Luthor? Doubtful.
Saban: "We're not in any conversations about anything other than the next game we play...The Iron Bowl is a big deal."— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) November 19, 2012
The largest margin of victory in the Iron Bowl happened in 1948 when Alabama won, 55-0. If Auburn doesn't do a better job of stopping the run than it has all year, Alabama head coach Nick Saban could probably have his team match that on Saturday. Auburn is dead last in the conference in rushing defense.
The last time that the Tigers donned their "storm trooper" all-white uniforms on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium, a comeback of historic proportions occurred. Cam Newton and the No. 2 Auburn Tigers were down as much as 24 points, only to come back and win, 28-27.
That game prompted Saban to put up new signs in the Alabama athletic complex.
"We have signs up in our building that say, 'never again,'" Saban told the audience at the Mitchell Center. "Can you imagine what 'never again' might mean? Being ahead in a game 24-0 and then losing the game 28-27? We don't want that to happen again." (via Mike Herndon, Mobile Press-Register)
Cam Newton, Nick Fairley and an excellent offensive line aren't walking through the front door for the Tigers to lead them to another victory over the Tide.
Alabama controls its own national championship and SEC championship game destiny. It can't afford to overlook a hungry opponent in a rivalry game like this one.
A second loss on the season to Auburn will knock Alabama out of the SEC championship game and will eliminate any hopes of defending its BCS crown. An Alabama loss this weekend will put LSU into the SEC title game.
Alabama overlooking Auburn in the Iron Bowl would help the Tigers turn the BCS into a tailspin for the second week in a row. Don't count on that happening, though.