The annual college football game between Auburn University and the University of Alabama, more commonly known as The Iron Bowl, is among the most intense and important rivalries in the sport. Some say that it has transcended the gridiron to become a piece of the fabric of American society.
WATCH- Saturday Traditions: Rivals Unite- Alabama vs Auburn
Saturday Traditions: Rivals Unite- Alabama vs Auburn
Traditionally contested during the Thanksgiving weekend, the game consistently has Southeastern Conference and national championship ramifications, with one or both teams being among the nation’s elite for the better part of the last 60 years.
The Tigers and Crimson Tide are both among the winningest programs in college football history, capturing a combined 33 SEC titles among them. The game was first played in 1893, and took on the “Iron Bowl” moniker by the time the 1980’s rolled around. That was in reference to the city of Birmingham, where the game had long been held, being a prominent player in America’s production of steel and iron.
The winner is annually awarded the Foy-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy, which is presented by the loser to the winner at the victorious team’s home basketball game as the presenter sings the other school’s fight song. The trophy remains in their care until the next year.
In 1964, The Iron Bowl was broadcast on national television for the first time, with future Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Namath leading Alabama to a 21-14 victory. In the 1981 game, the Crimson Tide’s Paul “Bear” Bryant earned his 315th victory, surpassing Amos Alonzo Stagg as college football’s all-time winningest coach.
Bear Bryant's last Iron Bowl was in 1983, when future Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson, perhaps the greatest American athlete ever, scored a touchdown in the final minutes to give Auburn a 23-22 win. Bryant passed away 60 days later.
The teams have played one another 81 times and the series has been held in four Alabama cities over the years: Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Auburn. In the games between 2009 and 2013, the Iron Bowl winner has gone on to the BCS Championship game and they have also fielded some of the most exciting finishes in the historic rivalry.
Before becoming the NFL’s No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy and led them to a national title. And before November 26th of 2010, no team had ever come back from 24 points down to beat Alabama. But that’s exactly what Auburn did that night to move No. 2 Auburn to 12-0 record.
Auburn was on the verge of getting blown out in that game, trailing the Tide 24-0 in the first half.
NFL Pro Bowl QB Cam Newton breaks down his amazing 24-point comeback effort against Alabama in the Iron Bowl and explains how his fueling strategy leading up to the game provided him with the energey necessary to power Auburn's epic 28-27 victory.
Starting with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Emory Blake in the second quarter, Newton went on to throw for three scores and run for another as Auburn rallied for an improbable 28-27 comeback victory.
Two years later we were given the amazing “Kick Six” game, named for one the most memorable endings in college football history. With the game tied at 28 with one second remaining, Bama's game-winning field goal attempt fell short. Auburn's Chris Davis caught the ball at the back of the end zone and returned it for a 109-yard game-winning touchdown as time expired.
In this rivalry, no lead is safe and nothing is final until the clock hits 00:00.