Iron Bowl: Why Alabama and Auburn own the best college football competition in America

” I like you.”

… Alabama football coach Ray Perkins to kicker Van Tiffin minutes after his 52- lawn basket as time ended to disturb No. 7 Auburn, 25-23, on Nov. 30, 1985, in front of 75,808 at Legion Field in Birmingham.

And I remained in love at very first sight at age24 That was my very first Iron Bowl personally.

I was the Alabama beat author for the Montgomery Advertiser, which had about half a lots individuals covering the video game. Tailback Bo Jackson got 142 backyards on 31 brings and scored 2 goals versus an Alabama defense with linebackers Cornelius Bennett and Derrick Thomas and regardless of– it was exposed later on– 2 broken ribs. He won the Heisman Trophy a week later on.

It was Perkins’ 2nd straight win over Auburn and put his unranked group at 8-2-1, while Auburn was up to 8-2. Perkins had actually lost his very first one as coach in 1983 after changing Paul “Bear” Bryant, which rather discusses the love part. Perkins then was up to 4-6 in 1984 for the Tide’s very first losing season because 1957– the year prior to Bryant’s arrival– and remained in threat of being fired. He disturbed No. 11 and 8-3 Auburn, 17-15, to end up 5-6. And he was off.


1982:  Head coach Pat Dye and the Auburn Tigers celebrate on the sidelines during an NCAA game circa 1982.

1982: Head coach Pat Dye and the Auburn Tigers commemorate on the sidelines throughout an NCAA video game circa1982
( Collegiate Images through Getty Images)

Bryant had actually won 9 directly over Auburn, which he called “that farm school,” from 1973 through 1981 prior to his previous assistant, Pat Dye, beat him, 23-22, in 1982 in Dye’s 2nd season as coach. Prior to retiring, Bryant coached just one more video game– a 21-15 win over Illinois in the Liberty Bowl. He passed away on Jan. 26, 1983, at 69, with 6 championship games at Alabama. He is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham– 2 miles from Legion Field.

The Legion Field crowd sound sticks to me from that 1985 Iron Bowl. Even throughout lulls of play on the field, there was a continuous continual lower roar with periodic roars in the stands, depending upon what took place. And a lot took place in the ’85 video game in a back-and-forth affair. There were 4 lead modifications in the 4th quarter and 2 in the last minute.

” It’s still the best video game I ever saw,” stated the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum, who covered it that day for the Birmingham Post-Herald.

Then in a rush, it was over. The routine season was over, and football Christmas was over.

That’s how it will be Saturday when No. 3 Alabama (10 -1, 6-1 SEC) dips into Auburn (6-5, 3-4 SEC) at 2: 30 p.m. on CBS. And it will not matter that Auburn can be found in having a hard time and on a three-game losing streak without beginning quarterback Bo Nix for the 2nd straight week due to the fact that of an ankle injury.

The Tide is a 19- point preferred by FanDuel, however that does not constantly matter in this one. In current weeks, Alabama looked human and not so appropriate in narrow wins over a bad LSU group and a typical Arkansas. New Auburn quarterback TJ Finley might enhance significantly in his 2nd start, primarily if Alabama’s defense plays as improperly as it has at times this season.

Chances are Iron Bowl No. 86 will be special and unforgettable like a great deal of Christmases.

Here are 5 reasons Alabama-Auburn is the best competition in college football:

5. THE IRON BOWL NAME: It’s the very best name of a video game in history– beside the Super Bowl. Prior to I understood the factor it was called the Iron Bowl, I presumed the name happened since it’s a tough video game, needing boys of iron to win it. Which holds true in a manner. The video game really got that name due to the fact that it was played in Birmingham from 1904 through 1988– a city near numerous mineral deposits with an abundant history in iron and steel production that is called “The Pittsburgh of the South.” Easy, makes good sense, like a great, difficult take on.

4. STABILIZE OF POWERS: The series is close, with Alabama leading simply 47-37 -1. Alabama has actually won 9 of the last 13, however Auburn won 7 of 8 prior to that, consisting of 6 directly from 2002-07 Both groups tend to be nationwide powers. Yes, Alabama has actually won 6 championship games under coach Nick Saban from 2009 through last season, however Auburn won the championship game in the 2010 season and bet it in the 2013 season. Auburn likewise ended up 13 -0 in 2004, however there were no playoffs at the time and the Tigers did not get picked for the BCS championship game video game. Auburn likewise went 11 -0 in 1993 and 10 -0 in 1957 however did not play in the postseason due to the fact that of NCAA sanctions. This video game tends to have nationwide significance, in addition to the yearly in-state value similar to Armageddon.

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide during warm ups before playing the Texas A&M Aggies  at Kyle Field on October 09, 2021 in College Station, Texas.

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide throughout heat up prior to playing the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on October 09, 2021 in College Station, Texas.
( Bob Levey/Getty Images)

3. EQUALITY OF SCHOOLS: Unlike in lots of competitions, one school is not viewed as the hoity-toity university (Ole Miss in Oxford) and the other as the farm school organization (Mississippi State in Starkville), no matter Bryant’s jabbing remark. Or a minimum of, they should not be. Auburn is an Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) College, and it remains in a more backwoods in Auburn than Alabama remains in Tuscaloosa. Auburn is not seen as some school in the woods. The 2 schools and their surrounding locations look noticeably comparable. The 2 football centers are twins.

They are both public schools– Auburn one the eastern edge of the state and Alabama on the western edge with 159 miles in between, mostly on U.S. Highway82 They are type of like twin siblings. Rich and bad individuals go to both schools. Many individuals go to Auburn for undergraduate research studies and after that to Alabama for law school.

One of the factors these 2 schools’ groups and fan bases battle and dislike one another a lot is since they are a lot the very same. They satisfy around Thanksgiving every year on the football field table to end the season; it is bro vs. sibling. Both schools still fill their lineups with in-state gamers, leading to previous high school colleagues betting one another. Frequently, the gamers on the field get along much better than the fans in the stands.

There are even coaches who have actually coached for both programs. Costs Oliver dipped into Alabama under Bryant and was an assistant coach and protective organizer there for several years and liked to tease Auburn. He ended his profession as an assistant at Auburn and then as its interim head coach in1998 Pat Dye was an Alabama assistant coach under Bear Bryant, then ended up being Auburn’s head coach. Previous Alabama head coach Mike DuBose bet Bryant at Alabama and was an assistant coach for several years with the Tide, however there were times in his profession when he had an interest in training at Auburn.

2. THE MEDIA IS SO INTO IT: Naturally, there have actually constantly been a great deal of Alabama and Auburn graduates who end up being sportswriters covering the 2 groups. And no matter how gifted and expert they are, they tend to prefer the school they went to or prefer the school they matured as fans of if they went to school out of state and returned. The outcome is a great deal of enthusiastic media and a couple of homers, however naturally, that holds true all over.

While I was covering Alabama for the Montgomery Advertiser in 1985 and ’86 and Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register paper from 1993-98, I was constantly impressed at just how much Alabama beat authors learnt about what was going on behind the scenes at Auburn and vice versa. Typically, it appeared that they understood more chatter about the other school than the one they were covering. Auburn authors in 1993 were continuously stating, “The NCAA’s ready to come down on Alabama hard.”

There was likewise a sports editor in Alabama who was such an Alabama fan that he would use Alabama hats and belt buckles to video games. He even cheered at Alabama spring video games. When Alabama protective organizer Bill Oliver left the Tide for Auburn, he could not think it and was so upset that he advised his Alabama and Auburn authors not to compose any columns about it since it was such a delicate topic.

” This is war,” he stated one day in the workplace.

Auburn coach Bryan Harsin signals to players during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Akron on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Auburn, Ala. 

Auburn coach Bryan Harsin signals to gamers throughout the 2nd half of an NCAA college football video game versus Akron on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Auburn, Ala..
( AP Photo/Butch Dill)

1. JUST TWO: The No. 1 reason Alabama-Auburn is the best college football competition is that there is generally absolutely nothing else in the state as far as sports. There has actually never ever been an NFL, NBA, or Major League Baseball group in Alabama. There is no other significant football program to divert attention from the huge 2. One can state the very same aspect of the Ole Miss-Mississippi State Egg Bowl, though Southern Mississippi has actually often been much better than both schools to its north. That has actually not taken place in Alabama. You are on one side or the other. Absolutely nothing else matters.

GUILBEAU POLL: 1. Georgia (11 -0, 8-0). 2. Alabama (10 -1, 6-1). 3. Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2). 4. Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3). 5. Arkansas (7-3, 3-4). 6. Mississippi State (7-4, 4-3). 7. Tennessee (6-5, 3-4). 8. Kentucky (8-3, 5-3). 9. Missouri (6-5, 3-4).10 South Carolina (6-5, 3-5).11 Auburn (6-5, 3-4).12 LSU (5-6, 2-5).13 Florida (5-6, 2-6).14 Vanderbilt (2-9, 0-7).


HOLIDAY TELEVISION SCHEDULE ( CFP rankings, FanDuel point spreads, main times)


No. 12 Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2 SEC) at No. 25 Mississippi State (7-4, 4-3), 2.5-point preferred, 6: 30 p.m., ESPN.


Missouri (6-5, 3-4) at No. 21 Arkansas (7-4, 3-4), 14.5 preferred, 2: 30 p.m., CBS.


Florida (5-6, 2-6), 2.5 preferred, at Florida State (5-6, 4-4 ACC), 11 a.m., ESPN; No. 1 Georgia (11 -0, 8-0), 35.5 preferred, at Georgia Tech (3-8, 2-6 ACC), 11 a.m., ABC; No. 2 Alabama (10 -1, 6-1), 19.5 preferred, at Auburn (6-5, 3-4), 2: 30 p.m., CBS; Vanderbilt (2-8, 0-6) at Tennessee (6-5, 3-4), 31.5 preferred, 2: 45 p.m., SEC Network; Kentucky (8-3, 5-3) at Louisville (6-5, 4-4 ACC), 2.5 preferred, 6: 30 p.m., ESPN2; No. 16 Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3), 6.5 preferred, at LSU (5-6, 2-5), 6 p.m., ESPN; South Carolina (6-5, 3-5) at Clemson (8-3, 6-2 ACC), 11.5 preferred, 6: 30 p.m., SEC Network.


Alabama quarterback Bryce Young broke a school passing backyards record that had actually stood because 1969 in the Tide’s 42-35 win over Arkansas Saturday. He finished 31 of 40 passes for 559 backyards, climaxing of 484 set by Scott Hunter in a 49-26 loss to Auburn on Nov. 29,1969 Young is 2nd in SEC history behind Mississippi State’s K.J. Costello, who tossed for 623 in a 44-34 win at LSU to open the 2020 season. Young changed Georgia’s Eric Zeier, who was No. 2 with 544 backyards versus Southern Mississippi in 1993.


” Oh, we’re going to beat Texas A&M. We’re going to beat them.”

— LSU linebacker Damone Clark after the Tigers’ 27-14 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.