By Dave Thomas
If there is one thing Alabama and Auburn fans can likely agree on, it is that the Iron Bowl matters more to most people in this state one day a year than family and church. Well, that is for about three hours or so.
As the Crimson Tide and the Tigers prepare to do battle at Jordan-Hare Stadium this Saturday in their annual war (Alabama leads all-time series 43-35-1), the stakes are high as usual. For Alabama (10-1), the need to win this game is crucial if they want any shot of grabbing one of the four playoff spots in college football’s second annual playoff.
Auburn Has Much To Play For Too
When the two teams take to the field come Saturday on The Plains, the host Auburn Tigers (6-5) will be playing for two reasons.
First, they would like nothing more than to ruin their arch-rival’s season. An Alabama loss and an Ole Miss win over rival Mississippi in Saturday’s Egg Bowl in Starkville sends the Rebels to Atlanta as the SEC West Division champ. Florida, which captured the SEC East crown a couple of weeks ago, already has its ticket punched for the SEC title game.
Secondly, Auburn is looking for its seventh win of the season, a potential win that would help its case for a better bowl opportunity come December.
As was evidenced in last year’s wild 55-44 Alabama win in Tuscaloosa, these two teams are no strangers to some wild encounters in their long-standing rivalry.
While both teams have won national titles (Alabama 15, Auburn 2), both have also seen all too often how this rivalry can alter their national title hopes.
Coming into this season, Auburn was actually picked by a number of “experts” to win the SEC West, SEC, and finish among the top four teams fighting to win a national title.
‘Bama Exceeding Expectations
Meantime, while Alabama was certainly expected to contend in the SEC in 2015, the Tide’s question marks coming into the season at quarterback (Jake Coker), replacing wide receiver Amari Cooper, filling in some pieces on defense, and the shaky leg of field goal kicker Adam Griffith led many to wonder if ‘Bama could be a force both on the SEC and national stage as usual.
As it turns out, Coker has done enough and then some at times to put the Tide in a position to contend for a national crown. The defense (especially the front line) has been nothing short of stellar, and the legs and pure dominance of running back Derrick Henry have carried Alabama to where it is now.
Even though Auburn’s season has not lived up to expectations, don’t be surprised if the Tigers give the hated Crimson Tide a game and then some come Saturday afternoon.
One thing that’s for sure is that the fan bases from both schools will put everyday life on hold for approximately three to four hours on Saturday, noting nothing is more important than the sacred Iron Bowl.