College Football Throwback Thursday: Numbers to know about the history of the Iron Bowl
Football season nears its close as Week 13 approaches. And with Week 13 comes a plethora of rivalry matches to excite and entertain, one of which is the Iron Bowl.
Auburn and Alabama have been battling for dominance of the state for years, deeming their fight for the Heart of Dixie as the Iron Bowl.
With this year's matchup returning to Tuscaloosa, we throw back to the numbers to know about the history of the rivalry:
Per the Washington Post, Auburn coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan first called the Alabama-Auburn game the Iron Bowl in 1964 when a reporter asked him about the team’s disappointment over not making it to a bowl game.
It's reported that he responded: “We’ve got our bowl game. We have it every year. It’s the Iron Bowl in Birmingham.”
But, why the Iron Bowl? Well, Birmingham sits closely to large deposits of iron, and since the game was held at Legion Field in Birmingham for years, the Iron Bowl stuck.
Nick Saban is arguably the best coach that has led a college football team ever. However, his record is not unblemished. Since he took the reins at Alabama in 2007, Auburn has defeated his team three times. Will Auburn be able to pull the upset off and change this number to four?
On Nov. 30, 2013, Alabama attempted a 56-yard field goal, which came up short and landed in the arms of Auburn’s Chris Davis, who was in the end zone. Once he snagged the ball, he took off down the field, making it from one end zone to the other to win the Iron Bowl for Auburn. This return became the longest touchdown in Iron Bowl history, according to WSFA.
From 2002 to 2007, Auburn logged six consecutive wins against Alabama, which remains the Tigers’ longest win streak against the Tide, according to Winsipedia. Since Nick Saban took over in 2007, Auburn has struggled to maintain dominance over the Iron Bowl.
While Alabama’s Bear Bryant becoming the winningest head coach at the time with 315 wins may seem unrelated to the Iron Bowl legay, it's important to note that it was a win over Auburn that allowed Bryant to hit that milestone. This 1981 win over the Tigers only fueled the rivalry more.
While the two teams first faced each other in 1893, according to Winsipedia, it wasn’t until 1948 that Alabama and Auburn met consistently every year. It was this annual battle that sparked the rivalry fire between the two teams, and winning the Iron Bowl has become a goal of both teams for many years now.
Since the two teams began facing each other consistently, the Iron Bowl has been decided by three points or fewer 11 times, according to Winsipedia. Since 1980, about 20 percent of the games have been decided by three points or fewer. While Alabama has a tendency this year to run up the score on its opponents, this game may turn out to be closer than most would expect.
With Davis’ kick return, Auburn took home the Iron Bowl title. But since that 2013 game, Auburn has yet to take down the mighty Crimson Tide. With Alabama’s dominance of college football this year, Auburn’s chances of winning look slim. However, crazier things have happened in college football, and the Tigers may be tallying their first win since 2013.
In 2014, according to WSFA, Alabama posted eight touchdowns in the Iron Bowl, which remains the most touchdowns scored in a single Alabama-Auburn game. Alabama averages about five touchdowns per game this season, with a high of seven against Southern California, Arkansas and Tennessee — so eight might be a stretch. However, both Alabama’s offense and defense know how to post some points, so we may see a new record this year.
Alabama leads the series 44-35, per Winsipedia. The Tide look to continue their dominace, and while some college football fans would want to see a team that has remained No. 1 since the beginning of the season fall, it doesn’t look too promising for the Tigers. However, Auburn is a strong team and looks to attempt to close the series gap with the 2016 Iron Bowl.