When the schedules were parsed and processed this summer, Alabama's annual end-of-year game with Auburn looked like just another blowout on its collision course with Pasadena, Calif. Auburn will be better under Gus Malzahn, we thought, but there's no way it will be good.
The Tigers have been the story of college football this season, storming through the SEC schedule with only one loss, a forgivable defeat against LSU in Tiger Stadium. Their last-minute heave to beat Georgia a couple of weeks ago was the signature moment (so far) in a year filled with so many great ones.
Now, the Iron Bowl takes on a whole new importance. It's not just about pride or hatred or rivalry; there are divisions and conferences and national championships at stake.
Get ready for, perhaps, the greatest-ever chapter in this rivalry.