When Alabama and Auburn meet on Pat Dye field the day after Thanksgiving, there will be much more to be won than just bragging rights in the state.
No doubt that this is one of the most intense rivalries in college football. It is blood on blood. Everyone in the state has friends, co-workers, relatives, even spouses that are passionate about "the other team".
This year is different though. Alabama is a double digit favorite and Auburn is teetering on the edge of mediocrity. Why is that any different? Because Alabama and Auburn have something to play for this year.
If Auburn finishes off the regular season by knocking off #2 Alabama, they will be 8-4 going into bowl season and also virtually eliminate Alabama from the national championship picture.
Depending on how the rest of the conference finishes it could also land them in the Cotton Bowl. Add that to the gravy train of recruits that would witness the game and it isn't hard to see the importance of this game to the Auburn program.
However, let's not forget what Alabama has riding on this game.
Nobody who has been paying attention need be reminded that Alabama is seated firmly in the driver's seat for an appearance in the BCS national championship game. It's been nearly 20 years since Alabama was given an opportunity to play in such a game and the Bama faithful want it bad.
Alabama also has Mark Ingram, the leading candidate in the Heisman race. A good performance in this game could lock it up for him. Given the fact that Alabama has never had a Heisman Trophy winner, you can understand how much it means to the Bama faithful.
Couple that with Auburn winning the last 7 out of 8 Iron Bowls.
Plenty motvation for both team indeed.