Since Feb. 22, 1893, the Iron Bowl has been a staple part of college football and arguably one of its best rivalries. The tradition doesn’t just lie in the competition of the Iron Bowl, it also lies in a tradition of dramatic wins and miracle moments for the Auburn Tigers.
First, let’s take a look back on the history of the Iron Bowl.
In 1893, the contest was played at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama, and was not played on The Plains until Dec. 2, 1989.
But what happened between 1893 and 1989?
Auburn and Alabama played 12 times between 1893 and 1907. In the 1907 game, they tied 6-6. That game was the last contest before the two teams went 40 years without either team playing the other. It wasn't until 1948 that the rivalry picked back up.
Although the true cause is up for debate, the reason believed for the gridlock is that Auburn accused Alabama of playing players that were not actually students in the two years prior to the 1907 game. Whatever the true cause, the two teams refused to play each other for so long that the state legislature had to threaten their funding in order to get the rivalry back on track.
In the 1960s, the Auburn versus Alabama conflict was officially christened as “The Iron Bowl” and a slew of dramatic finishes were continually handed to Auburn fans.
One example that particularly stands out is the Nov. 27, 1982, game played at Legion Field. After losing nine straight in the contest, Auburn was ready for a spark to light its fire and change its fate. That spark was a young freshman named Bo Jackson, who came onto the scene and changed everything. Auburn trailed all the way into the fourth quarter 22-17 but the Tigers drove down the field and Bo Jackson, who had 114 yards rushing, leapt over a pile of Tigers and Tide to score the winning touchdown.
It's famously known as "Bo Over the Top."
A more recent example was in 2010, when No. 2 Auburn was struggling in Bryant Denny Stadium. Alabama led the game 24-0 in the second quarter, but the Tigers weren’t done yet. They had Cam Newton. The 6-foot-6 quarterback led Auburn to a 28-27 victory after throwing three touchdowns and running one in himself. This win also paved the way for Auburn to win its first national championship since 1957.
In 2013, one of the most memorable and miraculous plays in football history earned the name of the “Kick Six”. The stakes of this game were even high, No. 1 Alabama against No. 6 Auburn with the winner of this game going to the SEC Championship Game.
The "Kick Six" was an infamous moment that fans — Auburn and Alabama alike — remember. Alabama lined up for a 57-yard field goal to win it. There was one second on the clock. Chris Davis, Auburn’s punt returner, was waiting in the end-zone. And then the impossible happened.
Rod Bramblett’s call on Auburn radio describes it best.
“Chris Davis takes it in the back of the end-zone. He’ll run it out to the 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 45- And there goes Davis! (Stan White: Oh my God! Oh my God!) Davis is gonna run it all the way back! Auburn’s gonna win the football game! Auburn’s gonna win the football game! He ran the missed field goal back! He ran it back 109 yards! They’re not gonna keep them off the field tonight!”
Whatever the outcome may be in Jordan-Hare this Saturday, the rivalry between Auburn and Alabama will continue to be one of the best in college football. Auburn has always had a little bit of magic and dramatic flare to accompany their wins. Who knows? Maybe it will show some this weekend. This is the Iron Bowl after all.
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Kristen is a sophomore majoring in journalism with a minor in business. She is also the host of our sports podcast, Page 8, that can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud.