When Alabama and Auburn square off on Saturday it will be the newest edition of one of the best rivalries in all of sports. As usual, a lot is riding on the Iron Bowl.
Few games have had more relevance in the last few years. Once again, people will be watching for both the mystique and the importance of the game.
For Alabama, a chance at a National Championship is on the line. For Auburn, bragging rights and a chance to play spoiler is the motivation.
The history of the Iron Bowl is as storied as the two programs that make it up. So, let's look at 10 little-known facts about the Iron Bowl.
The first Iron Bowl game was played in Birmingham in 1893. Auburn won, 32-22.
Because of a disagreement the two teams stopped playing after the 1907 season. They didn’t resume playing until 1948 after the Alabama Congress threatened the schools with a loss of funding.
The two teams have played every year since.
Alabama leads the all-time series with a 40-34-1 record. Auburn is 15-10 though over the last 25 years. Alabama is favored this year, but, as they say, throw out the record books.
The game between Alabama and Auburn is called the Iron Bowl due to the influence of the steel industry in Birmingham, where the game was played for years. The term was coined by legendary Auburn coach Shug Jordan in the 1950s.
Alabama didn’t take the series lead in the Iron Bowl until the 1965 season. Despite Auburn’s recent success Alabama hasn’t lost the lead since that time. Alabama currently leads the series by six.
The lowest scoring Iron Bowl was the 1960 affair in which Alabama won, 3-0. The highest scoring game in Iron Bowl history was in 1969. The two teams combined for 75 points with Auburn winning, 49-26.
There have been a number of remarkable streaks in the Iron Bowl over the years.
From 1959 through 1968 Alabama won eight out of nine games with the lone Auburn victory in 1963. After the Tigers won three of the next four Alabama went on the longest streak in series history winning nine straight from 1973 through 1981.
More recently, Auburn enjoyed a significant streak winning six straight from 2002 through 2007.
The James Foy ODK Trophy has become a major part of Iron Bowl tradition. The trophy is presented to the winning school during the Auburn, Alabama basketball game at the winning team’s arena.
After the presentations, the losing school’s SGA president must sing the fight song of the other school.
Because the game was played in Birmingham for such a long period of time, the on-campus records aren’t what you might expect. Particularly surprising is Auburn’s record in Tuscaloosa.
The Tigers are 7-1 in Tuscaloosa all-time. Alabama’s 2008 win broke both Auburn’s six-game Iron Bowl winning streak and marked the Tide’s first Iron Bowl victory in Tuscaloosa.
Over the years the Iron Bowl has had major implications in the National Championship race. This has been apparent in the last four years.
Saturday’s game will mark the fourth strait year that either Alabama or Auburn is ranked in the top two entering the game.
Alabama is seeking its second title in three years while Auburn will try to play the role of spoiler.
This game hasn’t just had National Championship implications lately. It’s also had major Heisman implications.
The last two Iron Bowl winning teams produced the eventual Heisman Trophy winner in Mark Ingram and Cam Newton. Trent Richardson will look to make his own statement on Saturday.