Everyone's favorite college football games are the rivalry games. Two teams who hate each other face off in a stadium divided right down the middle.
To some teams, their fans, and their players, the rivalry game or games are more important than wins and losses, or going to a bowl game.
Nowhere in the United States is that more true than in the heart of Dixie when the Alabama Crimson Tide face in-state rivals the Auburn Tigers in the Iron Bowl.
The Iron Bowl gets its name from when it was played in Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham is the center for Alabama's iron and steel production. The two teams met in Birmingham in 1893 for the first Iron Bowl, which Auburn won 32-22. In 1907 the series was suspended and wouldn't be renewed until 1948.
Alabama has the longest win streak in the series at nine games, but Auburn currently has won six in a row over the Tide. Bama leads the series 38-33-1
No other game comes close to the animosity of the Iron Bowl. Nowhere else in college football is there such love for one's team and pure hatred of the other.
Perhaps what makes this rivalry so great, unlike Texas and Oklahoma or Ohio State and Michigan, is that these two teams are in the same state. Fans of these two opposing teams work and even live together.
The Iron Bowl is not like other rivalries in the sense that Alabama and Auburn fans see each other every day—that's not always the case with many other rivalries. In no other rivalry do opposing fans come in contact with each other as much as they do in Alabama.
The Iron Bowl is a Civil War that erupts every year at the beginning of football season.
On the last weekend of football season, the state of Alabama comes to a standstill. All across the state, stores put signs in their doors saying, "Closed for the Iron Bowl." The day of the game, friendships and sometimes even marriages are put under strain.
On game day, perhaps the only thing more talked about than what happened in years past is what will happen next year.
The Iron Bowl is not just a one-week deal—it is a year-round rivalry. It is not uncommon to open a newspaper during March, when the rest of the nation is fawning over basketball, and see the sports section littered with news and predictions about Alabama and Auburn football.
In the great state of Alabama, people wear their football gear all year. It is common to see a Bama fan wearing a shirt reading, "I hate Orange" in May when baseball is in full swing.
It isn't just the legendary figures of Paul "Bear" Bryant, Shug Jordan, Joe Namath, or Bo Jackson that make this rivalry so great. It is the simple truth that in Alabama we have no professional sports teams. Fans in Alabama realize college football may be the closest thing we ever have.
Quite frankly, we wouldn't want it any other way.