clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Iron Bowl Heirarchy

Which past games fit into which categories?

When it comes to great rivalries, you’re all aware that the Iron Bowl is near the top, depending on who you ask. For us, it absolutely takes the overall number one ranking, due to many factors, including ferocity, importance, and excitement. Many of Auburn’s greatest games have come in Iron Bowl wins, and many of Auburn’s greatest disappointments have come in Iron Bowl defeats.

If you’re new to this event, we’re going to do you a favor and categorize each game since Pat Dye arrived at Auburn in 1981 and let you know which ones were classics, which ones were exciting, and which ones meant the most.


Here are the ones that make the cut when CBS does its 15-second stinger video to start the broadcast, and you see a smashcut of the most timeless moments in Iron Bowl history — Auburn-centric style.


Everyone knows that this is at the top of the list, and that short of aliens landing on the field in a future matchup, that it will always be the top. College football’s greatest play of all time, dethroning the twice-defending national champions. Rod’s call, storming the field, you know it all. It wasn’t just the final play either, this game had everything. Lead changes, big plays (A.J. McCarron’s 99-yard touchdown to Amari Cooper may have won him the Heisman had Bama won this game), and all of the trimmings to make this a truly wild college football game. It even had a sewing machine. That may not be remembered, but the Kick Six will be.


If the game ends up with a nickname, it’s hitting this section on the list. In 2010, Auburn was riding high at #2 in the polls heading into the Iron Bowl, with the SEC West already clinched, a Heisman Trophy all but certain for Cam Newton, and the inside track for a national championship all in the viewfinder. Alabama had other ideas to start, roaring out to a 24-0 lead in Tuscaloosa, but the Tigers clawed back. A touchdown right before the half cut the lead to 24-7 at intermission, and Cam Newton’s 70-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Zachery on the second play of the third quarter tightened crimson sphincters all throughout Bryant-Denny Stadium. In the opening minutes of the final period, Newton’s go-ahead touchdown to Philip Lutzenkirchen would be the game winner, but we still endured several tense minutes as the clock wound down and Auburn prevailed. Auburn won the title and Cam won the Heisman, culminating in a truly perfect 2010 season.

2019 - AUBURN 48, ALABAMA 45

The most recent Iron Bowl took place in Auburn with the Tide entering as an outside contender for the College Football Playoff. LSU had already clinched the division, but that hadn’t stopped Alabama from backdooring their way into the Playoff in the past, and last year would be no different. Auburn had other plans, snagging two pick sixes off the arm of Mac Jones, including one that Zakoby McClain returned 100 yards. More importantly, it was special teams again, as Alabama doinked what would’ve been the tying field goal in the closing moments, and Auburn ran out the clock by forcing Alabama into a 12-men penalty with a kooky punt formation. HIlariously fun game that had lead changes, a ton of scoring, and the dramatic close.

1993 - AUBURN 22, ALABAMA 14

It must be a theme that when Auburn is undefeated, they have to fall behind to Alabama. Trailing 14-5 in the 1993 edition, the 10-0 Auburn Tigers lost starting quarterback Stan White to a busted knee, and Patrick Nix had to come in cold on fourth and long. He just lobbed up a floater to Frank Sanders, who caught it for a touchdown and put Auburn right back in the game. Then, leading 15-14 in the fourth quarter, Auburn added the clincher, a 70-yard burst from James Bostic to win 22-14. “Eleven and oh! Eleven and oh! ELEVEN. AND. OH.” You. could almost do an entire jumbotron video from Jim Fyffe’s calls in this one and Rod’s call from the Kick Six.


Ugh, same criteria as above, but with Alabama winning. Gross. We’re not posting videos of these.

1985 - ALABAMA 25, AUBURN 23

Van Tiffin kicks a 52-yard field goal as time expires (which it should have done earlier in the drive because that guy never got out of bounds), an Alabama beats Auburn for a second straight year.

2009 - ALABAMA 26, AUBURN 21

Nick Saban’s team had come within a few plays away from beating Florida in 2008 and going to the SEC Championship, and they were in position to meet the Gators for a rematch in 2009 as an undefeated challenger. Auburn built a very quick 14-0 lead thanks to Gus Malzahn trickery, and then tried to hang on as Alabama pick-played its way down the field, getting a Greg McElroy touchdown to Roy Upchurch for the win. Bama went on to win Saban’s first title in Tuscaloosa a few weeks later.



I’m torn sticking this one here as opposed to the instant classic section, but this was the one that showed how Auburn wasn’t afraid of Alabama anymore. The 1970s were a dark time, as the Tigers lost nine straight in the series, and the emergence of Pat Dye’s swagger was a much needed tonic to get Auburn right. He recruited Bo Jackson, the greatest pure athlete of all time, and Bo was instrumental in getting Dye’s second team over the hump and breaking the losing streak. Bo went over the Tide defense on 4th and goal from inside the one to give Auburn the lead in the closing minutes and truly begin the modern era of Auburn football.


Throughout the Iron Bowl series history, Alabama has tried to make sure that things stay in their favor. The first disagreement between the two sides led to a 40-year hiatus in playing the game, but the second one turned a “neutral” site game into an on-campus gem in the late 1980s. For years the Iron Bowl was played in Birmingham (Iron Bowl, get it?), which was a heavily Tide-friendly town. Pat Dye finally got the game moved to Auburn during one of the Tigers’ “home” years in 1989, and it turned out to be one of the most cathartic events in Auburn history. Alabama came in on the way to play Miami for a national championship, but Auburn had other ideas. The Tigers jumped on top early, and cruised late as they ruined Bama’s perfect season and made the power play that showed how things had changed since the God-King Bear Bryant had died.

1981 - ALABAMA 28, AUBURN 17

Bear Bryant’s 315th win, making him the winningest college coach ever at the time.


1987 - AUBURN 10, ALABAMA 0

With the way the 1987 season went for Auburn, who ended up with a bizarre 9-1-2 record, this game didn’t have a lot of glitter, but it secured an outright SEC Championship and Sugar Bowl berth for the Tigers. If the Tigers had lost, then Alabama would’ve been SEC Champs with a 5-1 record and the tiebreaker over 5-1 LSU (Auburn hadn’t played LSU that year, and had a 20-20 tie with Tennessee on the docket).


1986 - AUBURN 21, ALABAMA 17

Alabama led late in what was a closely-contested game, before Auburn went to the bag of tricks and called the end around. Lawyer Tillman wasn’t supposed to be the guy to carry the ball, but he sure ended up with it in his hands and scored the winning touchdown to give the Tigers the victory. Pat Dye in the locker room afterward is pure ecstasy.

1995 - AUBURN 31, ALABAMA 27

A back-and-forth affair where Auburn led early, then lost the lead to the Tide, and had to score in the end with a Fred Beasley touchdown run. The Tigers rebuffed Alabama throwing into the end zone for the win, resulting in a fantastic Jim Fyffe call “Yes, yes, YES, AUBURN, YES!” Just listen to the dulcet tones of Ron Franklin as he describes each side setting up shop.

1996 - ALABAMA 24, AUBURN 23

Kind of a bit of revenge from 1995, as Alabama did end up scoring that late touchdown and coming from behind in the closing seconds. Dennis Riddle got the score that gave Alabama the victory in the final minute.

2002 - AUBURN 17, ALABAMA 7

I contemplated sticking this game in a different category, because a 17-7 game in which Auburn scores all of its points in the first half, and the only Alabama score coming super late can hardly be identified as “exciting”, but you clearly didn’t watch it live. Auburn had no chance with injuries galore, and a super-depleted running back corps. Instead of future top-five picks Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown, Auburn turned to 4th stringer Tre Smith, who only rushed for 126 yards in his first start. The defense played their part, as Gene Chizik masterminded a scheme to stop the option and obliterate Alabama. It was yet another loss in Tuscaloosa, and Alabama got left at the altar Dennis Franchione left for the then-destination job of Texas A&M.

2003 - AUBURN 28, ALABAMA 23

Raise your hand if you thought that Auburn was winning the national title in 2003. Yes, all of you, that’s right. Myself included. Things didn’t turn out the way we wanted, and this game was played between 6-5 Auburn and 4-7 Alabama. Magic at night in November 2003. To make matters worse, Tommy Tuberville was nearly replaced with Bobby Petrino earlier that week, but the secret plot was uncovered and support rolled in for Tubs. Once we kicked off, Cadillac Williams made sure that nobody remembered any off-field issues. Rod Bramblett’s first signature call.

2005 - AUBURN 28, ALABAMA 18

For one of the biggest ass-kickings that went in Auburn’s favor, you don’t have to turn any further than “Honk If You Sacked Brodie”. The Tigers got Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle on the ground 11 times, and built a 28-7 halftime lead. If not for the Tubershell, we’d have hung 50 on them and enjoyed every moment of it.

2014 - ALABAMA 55, AUBURN 44

This was the wildest shootout we’d ever seen in the Iron Bowl, with Auburn coming in with nothing to lose. Nick Marshall set an Auburn single-game passing record, and if nor for a few goal line miscues, Auburn could’ve hung 60 or more on Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Instead, the defense folded and allowed Amari Cooper and Derrick Henry to make moves in the second half.


1983 - AUBURN 23, ALABAMA 20

For Auburn, the Tigers were on the verge of a conference title and more at 9-1, while Alabama was in the first year A.B. (After Bear). Sophomore Bo Jackson turned in the performance of a lifetime with touchdown runs of 69 and 71 yards, and 256 total yards as the Tigers won the SEC and went on to the Sugar Bowl.

1988 - AUBURN 15, ALABAMA 10

Auburn finished out another SEC Championship season with a 15-10 win over Alabama, with Ron Stallworth taking down David Smith for a safety and Vincent Harris scoring the Tigers’ lone touchdown of the game.

1992 - ALABAMA 17, AUBURN 0

Alabama won a national championship under Gene Stallings after this, Pat Dye’s last game as head coach at Auburn.

1997 - AUBURN 18, ALABAMA 17

Auburn had a tough time against a pretty poor Tide team coached by Mike Dubose, but one of the dumbest play calls in series history gave Auburn the boost it needed. Freddie Kitchens tossed a little fancy screen pass to Ed Scissum, who got dislodged from the ball by Martavious Houston. Auburn recovered the ball inside the Alabama 40-yard line, and a few plays later Jarrett Holmes knocked through the game-winner to send Auburn to its first SEC Championship Game against Tennessee.

1999 - ALABAMA 28, AUBURN 17

The Tide won the SEC West and went on to beat Florida in Atlanta during Tommy Tuberville’s first year on the Plains.

2000 - AUBURN 9, ALABAMA 0

In Tuberville’s second season, he returned the favor and beat Alabama at their place. It really wouldn’t have mattered if they’d lost, since the Tigers held the tiebreaker over LSU in the West, but it was still nice to shut out Alabama thanks to Rudi Johnson’s big performance in the worst recent weather in Iron Bowl history.

2004 - AUBURN 21, ALABAMA 13

Once again, Auburn went into Tuscaloosa before heading to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers had clinched the West before the month of October ended, so this game was just to keep Auburn near the top of the polls and in the hunt for a berth in the BCS Championship. Alabama was down to its backup quarterback, but the home atmosphere helped out as they had a good game plan to start. Bama shut out Auburn in the first half, taking a 6-0 lead into the locker room, but the Tigers roared out of the half, and scored on the opening drive, never relinquishing the lead. Auburn finished 13-0 in 2004, and ended the year ranked 2nd in the country.

2007 - AUBURN 17, ALABAMA 10

There was literally nothing on the line when Alabama came to town in Nick Saban’s first year, but the atmosphere for a night Iron Bowl was frenzied and wild, and the Tigers outlasted Alabama in a slugfest. While there weren’t any meaningful implications, it allowed Auburn to extend their longest winning streak in the series. Honestly, my biggest memory from this game was Bo Jackson pumping up the crowd right before the opening kickoff, and then Jerraud Powers getting bitten by that police dog.

2008 - ALABAMA 36, AUBURN 0

Ugh, don’t remind me of this one. Nick Saban wanted to end the Tommy Tuberville era with a vengeance, and he was caught on the sideline telling his players not to let up because of how much he hates “these guys” (meaning Auburn). It was the end of the six-game winning streak, and Alabama’s first win in Tuscaloosa, and Tubs was out of a job two days later.

2011 - ALABAMA 42, AUBURN 14

We kind of knew that we’d pay the price for the hoodwink job we pulled in Bryant-Denny in 2010, and Alabama ran us to death in Auburn the next year on their way to a title. Auburn trailed 24-7 at halftime, just like the season before, and Onterrio McCalebb returned the second half opening kickoff for a score to clench Bama buttholes everywhere. Still, Alabama’s defense was stifling, and Auburn couldn’t muster anything offensively.

2012 - ALABAMA 49, AUBURN 0

Next. Gene Chizik’s last game, Bama won a title.

2015 - ALABAMA 29, AUBURN 13

Auburn had to roll out Jeremy Johnson for an injured Sean White, and the only exciting thing that happened was the tipped pass to Jason Smith. Derrick Henry ran wild for almost 300 yards.

2016 - ALABAMA 30, AUBURN 12

Another Jeremy Johnson for Sean White Iron Bowl special. The Tigers hung tough for a little while, tacking on Daniel Carlson field goals, but an Ardarius Stewart catch and run broke their back and Alabama went on to another SEC title.

2017 - AUBURN 26, ALABAMA 14

Auburn returned the favor, taking down top-ranked Alabama after beating to-ranked Georgia just two weeks prior. The defense was fantastic, shutting down Calvin Ridley and Jerry Jeudy, and the offense came up with timely moments including the jump pass touchdown from Kerryon Johnson. Auburn won the SEC West, but lost the rematch to Georgia the next week. Alabama sneaked into the Playoff and won the title by beating Georgia. The game wasn’t particularly exciting since Auburn controlled it, but a double digit win over a top-ranked Bama team is always fun.

2018 - ALABAMA 52, AUBURN 21

Auburn just ran out of horses in this one, playing to a tough 17-14 game at halftime as Tua and company couldn’t find their rhythm. They found it in the second half, though, and Tua threw for 5 scores as Bama completed a perfect regular season.


1984 - ALABAMA 17, AUBURN 15

Ugh. Bo went the wrong way as a lead blocker and allowed the goal line play to get blown up. Auburn loses by two.

1994 - ALABAMA 21, AUBURN 14

Frank Sanders had the damn first down on the last drive, even though he was called short on fourth down, and Alabama gave Auburn its first loss in two years.


1990 - ALABAMA 16, AUBURN 7

Gene Stallings’ first season in Tuscaloosa beat a pretty good Auburn team led by a freshman Stan White, but neither team was in line for any sort of title, as the two sides finished 4th and 5th respectively in the standings.

1991 - ALABAMA 13, AUBURN 6

Alabama started to rise up under Gene Stallings, and Auburn was on the way down toward the end of the Pat Dye era. Still, this game was for bragging rights only, as Florida had wrapped up the SEC title with a perfect conference record and a 35-0 shutout of the Tide. Auburn finished the year at 5-6.

1998 - ALABAMA 31, AUBURN 17

The transitional Iron Bowl after Terry Bowden left and Bill Oliver was coaching the team. He got Auburn to a 2-3 finish down the stretch, but the offense had absolutely nothing in the tank in 1998, and they limped to a 3-8 mark overall.

2001 - ALABAMA 31, AUBURN 7

Cadillac Williams gets hurt on Auburn’s first drive, and all the wind goes out of the stadium. Maybe Tommy Tuberville’s greatest sin. He could’ve strung together eight straight Iron Bowl wins if not for this fiasco. It was after this that he learned about how much easier beating Alabama makes your life.

2006 - AUBURN 22, ALABAMA 15

Auburn finished with 11 wins in 2006, but the two losses were harsh. Georgia had beaten Auburn a week earlier and the Tigers were effectively out of the running for the SEC West. Alabama was not good in Mike Shula’s final season, and lost their final four SEC games. This matchup turned out to be one of those classic early-to-mid 2000s SEC slugfests, when you look back and marvel at just how slow everyone who didn’t play for Florida looked. Brandon Cox tossed the game-winning touchdown to Prechae Rodriguez late.

There you have it. All Iron Bowls of the modern era, categorized for you to enjoy. Watch some highlights later today as you coax yourself through the turkey coma! War Eagle!