An interesting tidbit heading into the biggest Iron Bowl we’ve had in three years: Alabama haven’t beaten an Auburn team with nine wins or more since 1994, while Nick Saban has failed to do so as a Crimson Tide and LSU coach.
The last time Alabama met that strong of an Auburn team was in 2010 – the Cam Newton year. Alabama, the defending national champions trying to mess up the perfect season the Tigers were having, held a 24-0 lead before surrendering 27-28, ending with a touchdown pass to Philip Lutzenkirchen late in the 4th quarter. It was the biggest deficit overcome in Iron Bowl history.
As LSU’s head coach, Saban lost to Auburn three times: In 2000 against an Auburn side headed towards a 9-4 season; in 2002 to another 9-4 teams and in 2004 against the Auburn team that won the SEC but were kept out of the national championship game despite a 13-0 season.
As an Alabama head coach, Saban is 4-2 against Auburn, including winning the last five by a combined score of 180-63. However, he did lose to Auburn in 2007, his first year as the Tide’s head coach, when the Tigers finished 9-4, and he lost in 2010 to the eventual national champions.
So what happens this weekend in rivalry week? Auburn are 10-1 heading into the game, making it a #1 vs #4 game. Auburn have also won three of their last seven games against Alabama teams that finished the season with nine wins and more. These things really shouldn’t matter in a sport where teams are completely replaced every three or four years, but tradition, and college football is knee deep in it, seeps into actual games as well, and not just the surrounding atmosphere.
Last time Alabama did it (which they probably will this time)? In 1994, #3 Alabama beat #6 Auburn 21-14 with a defensive stop later known as the Inch that Stole Christmas. Auburn were undefeated going into the game, and Alabama ended their 21-game winning streak, heading into their third SEC championship game.