The fiercest rivalry in all of college football takes place each year in late November as the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn University Tigers meet in a series known as ‘The Iron Bowl’. The series earned its name following years of match-ups in Birmingham, known for its production of iron.
The series started in 1893 when the two teams met in Birmingham. The Auburn Tigers clinched the first win of the series, which was played not in November, but in February! The teams met again that same year, this time in Montgomery. The November game saw Auburn take its second win.
Though the first game was played more than 120 years ago, the teams have not met that many times. That's because the Tide and Tigers skipped out between 1896 and 1900. That short absence was met with a much longer absence on a few years later that would last for decades. From 1907 to 1948 the in-state rivals avoided playing each other.
To date, the teams have played each other 82 times in four different locations: Birmingham (53x), Tuscaloosa (11x), Montgomery (4x) and Auburn (14x).
2018 will mark the 83rd meeting of the two teams.
Alabama had the advantage when playing in Birmingham (34-19) and the teams were tied when playing in Montgomery (2-2). The Iron Bowl is no longer played in those cities, having seen its last match-up in Montgomery back in 1903 and in Birmingham back in 1998.
The teams now alternate between Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium on even years and Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium on odd years. Auburn retains a statistical advantage at both stadiums (9-5 in Auburn and 7-4 in Tuscaloosa).
BRYANT DENNY STADIUM
The 2018 game will take place in Nick Saban’s house, which has 101,821 seats and plenty of noise. Though the Tide has a losing record against the Tigers at home, Saban has closed the gap.
Saban is riding a 25-game win streak at BDS, breaking the team’s old record of 24 set between 1971-74.
Ole Miss was the last team to defeat the Tide at BDS back in 2015. Auburn last accomplished that feat in 2010 in its run to the BCS National Championship.
Beating the Tide is a tall task anywhere, but especially at home. Saban wins at home 92 percent of the time, having tasted defeat only seven times since joining the Tide 12 years ago.
SERIES WINS AND LOSSES
Here’s how the teams have done during each year’s meeting of the Iron Bowl. Note the absence of wins/losses during the years between 1895-1900 and 1907- 1948. The teams did not play during those years.
Alabama holds the all-time series lead with 45 wins. Auburn has 36. The Iron Bowl has seen just one tie in all its years of existence. That came more than a century ago in 1907. The Crimson Tide has maintained the series lead since the 1965 football season when it pulled to 15 wins over Auburn’s 14.
THE IRON BOWL STREAK
The longest winning streak for Alabama is nine (1973-1981) under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
The longest winning streak for Auburn is six (2002-2007) under Coach Tommy Tuberville.
Auburn - 26 to 14
CURRENT WIN STREAK (As of 2017)
Auburn - 1
RANK GOING IN TO 2018 IRON BOWL
Alabama - No. 1
Auburn - Unranked
Under Nick Saban, Alabama has beaten 81 consecutive unranked teams going into the 2018 Iron Bowl. The Tide’s last loss to an unranked team? Auburn (2007). The Crimson Tide comes into the 2018 Iron Bowl touting a perfect season, the same as 2017. It’s last game loss? Auburn (2017).
Can the Tigers spoil the perfection again? The odds are not in their favor. The higher ranked team going into the Iron Bowl has an 80 percent win rate dating back to 1955.
IRON BOWL WINS/LOSSES BY COACH (As of 2017)
Nick Saban - 7 wins and 4 losses
Gus Malzahn - 2 wins and 3 losses
LAST SEC CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCE
Alabama - 2016 win against Florida
Auburn - 2017 loss against Georgia
Regardless of who wins the 2018 Iron Bowl, the Tide will make a trip to the SEC Championship in Atlanta.
THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP STREAK
The Iron Bowl became a stepping stone to the national championship game during the Bowl Championship Series, or BCS era. From 2009 to 2013 the winner went on to appear in the SEC Championship Game and then the BCS National Championship Game. The five-year run was unrivaled.
Alabama won three BCS National Championships during those years (2009, 2011 and 2012). Auburn claimed the BCS National Championship in 2010 and returned to the pinnacle game in 2013 before the streak ended with the Tigers losing to Florida State University that year, the final year of the BCS.
LAST NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCE
Alabama - 2017 win against Georgia
Auburn - 2013 loss against Florida State