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 matchups 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 81 times in four different locations: Birmingham (53x), Tuscaloosa (11x), Montgomery (4x) and Auburn (13x).
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 (8-5 in Auburn and 7-4 in Tuscaloosa).
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 35. 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 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.
In recent years the Iron Bowl has been a stepping stone to the national championship game during the Bowl Championship Series, or BCS. 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 is 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 in the final year of the BCS.
Alabama continues it historic run at national championships under head coach Nick Saban. The defending national champions are on pace to make it to the College Football Playoffs again in 2016 following its latest defeat of the Tigers (the first 3-win streak for the Tide since the early 90s.)
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