History of Alabama vs Auburn series

By Randy Belk
Nov. 21, 2016

Auburn will travel up state to take on Alabama this Saturday for the annual Iron Bowl game. This game is so important to fans of both teams. In the state of Alabama more people are concerned if you are an Alabama or Auburn fan than anything else for the most part. The first game between Alabama and Auburn was played back in 1893. Do you know the name of Auburn University the first time they played in 1893? They were call The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama. The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama defeated Alabama in that first game 32-22. 

The series got very heated by 1907. There was a lot of bitterness coming from Auburn from how the Alabama legislature was fully funding appropriations to the University of Alabama while only giving Auburn a third of their appropriations. The Alabama legislature was run mostly by Alabama alumni. There was also on the field controversy in 1906 and 1907 as Auburn coach Mike Donahue threatened to cancel the series if Alabama's coach Doc Pollard did not stop his elaborate shifts and formations. Things have come full circle as now coach Gus Malzahn of Auburn is the one concocting all sorts of shifts and formations. The series did come to a stop after the 1907 season when the two teams could not agree to the amount of travel expenses given to players as well as which referees would be used. 

In 1947 the Alabama legislature put pressure on Alabama and Auburn to continue the series. If they did not resume the series the legislature would withhold funding of both schools. When money talks, people listen. The two school presidents got together and decided to resume the series and play the game annually in the largest stadium in the state, Legion Field in Birmingham. This was agreed upon because Alabama said it was too difficult to try to travel to Auburn. Alabama was not the only team who had that agreement with Auburn. Tennessee and Georgia Tech also played Auburn in Birmingham into the 1970's because of the difficulty of getting to Auburn. In the agreement for Alabama and Auburn to play each other annually in Birmingham the tickets would be split evenly between the two schools. 

The game became known as the Iron Bowl that was thought of by former Auburn coach Shug Jordan because of Birmingham's history as an iron ore and steel city. In 1987 Auburn expanded their stadium to be larger than Legion Field and lobbied to bring their home games in the Iron Bowl to Auburn. Auburn hosted the Iron Bowl for the first time in 1989. Alabama continued to play their home games against Auburn in Birmingham until 2000. Alabama had expanded their stadium to be larger than Legion Field and hosted the Iron Bowl in 2000 for the first time since 1901.

This will be the 81st meeting between Alabama and Auburn. Below are the entire results of the 80 games played between Alabama and Auburn provided by Wikipedia. 

Notable games;

1893 First game - Auburn defeated Alabama 33-22 in Birmingham.

1948 Rivalry resumed - For the first time in 41 years Alabama and Auburn renew the series. Alabama gets the biggest win in the rivalry beating Auburn 55-0.

1964 First nationally televised Iron Bowl - Alabama entered the game ranked #2 while Auburn was unranked. Joe Namath leads Alabama to a 21-14 victory and the second undefeated regular season under coach Bear Bryant.

1967 Run in the mud - On a very stormy night at Legion Field Kenny Stabler runs for a 47 yard touchdown in the mud in the fourth quarter to defeat Auburn 7-3.

1972 Punt Bama punt - I would rank this as Alabama's second most painful loss in their history. #2 Alabama led #9 Auburn 16-0 entering the 4th quarter. Auburn cut Alabama's lead to 16-3 with and early 4th quarter field goal. Auburn forced an Alabama punt and Bill Newton blocked it and David Langner returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 16-10. In what looked like an instant replay on the next series Bill Newton blocked the punt again and David Langner picked up the ball again and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown that led Auburn to a 17-16 miracle win over Alabama. 

1981 Bear gets win 315 - Alabama defeated Auburn 28-17 to give Bear Bryant 315 career wins pushing him past Amos Alonzo Stagg to become the winningest coach in FBS history at the time.

1982 Bo over the top - In Bear Bryant's last Iron Bowl, Auburn drove the length of the field capped by a Bo Jackson leap over the top of the Alabama defense for the winning touchdown to put Auburn ahead for good 23-22 with about 2 minutes left in the game.

1984 Wrong way Bo - Alabama struggled in 1984 entering the game with a 4-6 record against #11 Auburn. Alabama held a 17-15 lead late in the game when Auburn faced a fourth and goal situation at the Alabama one yard line. On the ensuing play Auburn pitched the ball to Brent Fullwood on a sweep where Bo Jackson who was supposed to be the lead blocker went the wrong way leaving the Alabama defense to easily pursue and tackled Fullwood for a loss and preserved the 17-15 upset victory. 

1985 The kick - Alabama with less than 30 seconds left in the game moved from deep in their own territory to the Auburn 35 yard line where Van Tiffin kicked a 52 yard field goal as time expired to give Alabama an improbable 25-23 victory over #7 Auburn. 

1986 The reverse - With 32 seconds left in the game and Alabama leading 17-14 Auburn ran a reverse play with Lawyer Tillman getting the ball and scoring the winning touchdown giving Auburn a 21-17 victory. 

1989 First Iron Bowl in Auburn - Undefeated #2 Alabama made their first trip in the history of the series to #11 Auburn. The Tigers would upset Alabama 30-20 killing any hopes of a national championship for the Crimson Tide. 

2010 Cam back - Alabama raced out to a 24-0 lead in the second quarter and was dominating Auburn. After that the ball seemed to bounce Auburn's way literally and Cam Newton led Auburn to a 28-27 comeback victory and went on to win the 2010 national championship. 

2013 Kick six - Gary Danielson reminds us of the kick six every time CBS televises an Alabama game. In a tie game #1 Alabama attempts a 57 yard field goal to win the game but the kick comes up short and Chris Davis of Auburn returns the ball over 100 yards for the winning touchdown and ends Alabama's chance of a three peat as national champions. This has to be the toughest loss in Alabama's history.

2014 Highest scoring game in the series - Auburn had no answers for Alabama's offense in the second half as Alabama roared back from a 12 point deficit in the third quarter to win going away 55-44 setting a record for the most total points scored in the Iron Bowl.