By Dave Thomas

While bigger goals still await, Alabama (11-1) accomplished one of its biggest challenges of the season on Saturday, a win over hated rival Auburn (6-6). In the process, ‘Bama wrapped up the SEC West crown with the victory.

Junior running back Derrick Henry was a man among boys, rolling for 271 yards on the ground and a touchdown to seal it, as the Crimson Tide went into Jordan-Hare Stadium and emerged with a 29-13 victory in front of some 87,000 fans. As a result, ‘Bama now awaits Florida this coming Saturday in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta.

For Alabama and its fans, there is not much more of a satisfying feeling than beating their despised in-state rivals.

While Auburn is having a down season with a .500 record and a last-place SEC West finish at 2-6, the Tigers made life uncomfortable for the Crimson Tide and their fans for the better part of three quarters. When all was said and done, it was Derrick Henry, Adam Griffith (five field goals), and ‘Bama that had the last laugh.

Gridiron Rivalry Is Unmatched

Fans of rivalries like Ohio State-Michigan, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, Florida-Florida State and USC-UCLA will state that their matchup is the nation’s most heated, but it would be hard to argue with the Iron Bowl being “the game” each year when late November rolls around.

Coming into this year’s Iron Bowl (Alabama now leads the series 44-35-1), all the pressure was on ‘Bama to continue its quest for a 16th national championship. With a loss to Auburn, Alabama would have been essentially eliminated from any further national title talk. When you throw in the fact that Auburn fans would have been talking smack for the next 364 days, ‘Bama knew it had to not only quiet the Tiger faithful in homes and workplaces divided in the state for the next calendar year, but also online.

When you take a look at the fallout from the game on Twitter and other social media venues, it is clear ‘Bama fans were the ones getting the last laugh.

Among a sampling of opinions:

Meantime, Auburn fans can only wait for next year’s 81st edition of this rivalry to have an opportunity to exact some revenge.

Among a sampling of opinions:

And in the event you missed one of the swing points in the game, Auburn picked up 30 yards in penalties on an Alabama drive in the second half, with quarterback Jake Coker being hit out of bounds and Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp getting flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

All-in-all, just another wild day in the Iron Bowl, by far the nation’s best college football rivalry.

For those who may disagree with the assertion that the ‘Bama-Auburn tussle each November is the best of the college gridiron rivalries, we dare you to find another one that brings out the best (sometimes that is debatable) in fans of both the Crimson Tide and Tigers.