MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Iron Bowl is always a huge game. But did you know in seven of the last eight years the winner of that game has gone on to play in the national championship game?
This wild run started in 2009 when a heavily favored Tide team had to come from behind. Greg McElroy had the late TD pass to Roy Upchurch and it gave Bama the 26-21 win. Bama then beat Texas in the BCS National Championship game.
Payback happened the following year in 2010. Bama jumped out to a huge lead but Auburn QB and eventual Heisman winner Cam Newton led the comeback. The Tigers won in Tuscaloosa 28-27 and then beat Oregon to win the BCS National Championship.
In 2011 the Tide won on the Plains in a 42-14 romp. Former Stanhope star Dee Millner returned a pick-6 and the Tide won the national title, beating LSU in a rematch.
2012 was one of the most lopsided Iron Bowls ever. Bama's QB AJ McCarron and Amari Cooper led the Tide to a 49-0 win, a game that helped usher out the era of Auburn's Gene Chizik. The Tide went on to roll Notre Dame in yet another BCS title game.
Then came 2013, maybe the wildest Iron Bowl finish ever. With literally one second left on the clock, Bama attempted a field goal which turned into what will forever be known as "The Kick Six". Chris Davis ran it all the way back 109 yards for a touchdown and Auburn won 34-28. The Tigers were just minutes from winning the last BCS National Championship game over Florida State but FSU would pull off a comeback to steal the Tiger's win.
2014 saw neither Alabama nor Auburn in the championship game, but in 2015 it was on again. Bama's Derrick Henry sealed the deal with a late touchdown, giving the Tide a 29-13 win. Head coach Nick Saban led his team into yet another national title game and a win against Clemson.
It was freshman Bama QB Jalen Hurts in 2016 who led the Tide to its third straight Iron Bowl win by a score of 30-12. Once again, the Tide headed to a national championship game, but unlike in years past, got bit by a Clemson team holding a grudge from the year before.
So what will happen in 2017? Who knows. What we do know, however, is that the winner will be heading to Atlanta for the SEC championship game and possibly another national championship game. If the Tide, currently ranked No. 1, wins, they have a very good chance of making it to the title game undefeated. Auburn, should it win, could be the first two-loss team to ever make it to the College Football Playoffs.
Kickoff for the Iron Bowl is 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Jordan- Hare Stadium.