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What is Iron Bowl: Iron Bowl Facts, History and Highlights




A football rivalry game between Auburn university tigers and Alabama crimson tide, both charter members of the southeastern conference (SEC), is named as iron bowl. This football rivalry series is considered as one of the most important football rivalries in American sports. This rivalry was played for many years in legion field of Birmingham, Alabama, which gave it its named ‘iron ball’ based on Birmingham’s historic role in steel industry. In 1964 Auburn coach Ralph Jordan was asked regarding disappointment of not taking his team to a bowl game on which he answered ‘we have got our own bowl game. We have it every year. It’s the iron ball in Birmingham.’

Iron Bowl History

This rivalry contest added a spark to ongoing bitter political debate taking place in Alabama state legislature regarding the location of new land grant college under the state’s application befalling in moral land grant act of 1862 during the civil war reconstruction era. Alumni from university of Alabama wanted to sell land scripts of 240,000 acres acquired from Morell act. This heated debate ended after 4 years with lee county and city of Auburns winning of new location for university in 1872.

Auburn, having no appropriate funds for the state during 1970, was at the verge of collapsing. It referred to the fact that university of Alabama could claim the remaining land scripts. University of Alabama faced serious setbacks during the civil war. After its reopening in 1871 an 1880, it was granted with 40,000 acres of coal land by the congress as a compensation for war wounds. Hence by 1877, the competition between two universities for patronage had reached sky high.

Both universities football teams had their first match together on 22ndFebruary1893, which Auburn won by 32-22 before 5000 spectators. To end the feud and violence between the fans, the series got suspended after 1907 game. First ice breaker came only a month later the 7-7 tie in1907. Both universities tried to settle the dispute in 1907, presented 4possible dates for the match but were never able to come to common terms due to several reasons.

After dozens of years of heated conversations, intense rivalry, and change of leaderships, it was finally agreed that the game will resume as neutral site series in Birmingham’s legion field. During the spectacular match, a fan crowd of 47000 was recorded.

Alabama continued conducting hoe games facing Auburn at legion field. Alabama then expanded the capacity of the Bryant-Denny stadium in 1998 up to a capacity of 83,818 and moved their homes games to this stadium. After 1901, Auburn came to Tuscaloosa in year 2000. It was a spectacular match that Auburn won playing defensively by 9-0. New attendance record was 92,138 in 2006, only to be broken in 2010. With the latest expansion in Bryant-Denny stadium, 101,821 spectators witnessed a 28-27 Auburn victory.

Iron Bowl Highlights

  • The very first meeting between Auburn and Alabama was recorded on 22ndFebruary 1893 in Birmingham. Auburn won the match by 32-22
  • On November 12th, 1904, Mike Donahue defeated Alabama justifying the sole reason of his hiring.
  • In 1948 the matches of rivalry resumed after 41 years. It was the match of the history in which Alabama defeated Auburn with 55-0 margin. Largest victory margin ever recorded.
  • In 1964, iron bowl was broadcasted for the very first time on television. Alabama won that match with 21-14 score.
  • In 1967, for the very first time, match was conducted during night time. Weather was rainy and the match had to be paused many times to clear the fields. On the muddy ground, Ken Stabler ran 47 yards for a touchdown securing victory for Alabama by 7-3.
  • In 1971, first time the match went tie.
  • In 1981 Alabama defeated Auburnby 28-17 earning 315th career victory to the Alabama coach bear Bryant
  • In 1982 Auburn won the game in last 2 minutes of the match by performing a touchdown. Ending Alabama’s 9-0 winning streak.
  • In 1985 Auburn lost by 25-23 on a 52-yard field goal by kicker van tiffin as time expired.
  • In 1989, first iron bowl played at Jordan-hare stadium. Auburn won the match by 30-20.
  • In 1994 match ended with both teams undefeated, it was the first time since 1971.
  • In 1997, Auburn won the match by 18-17 by setting up a 39-yard goal with 20 secs left.
  • In 1999, crimson tide experienced its first victory at Jordan hare stadium as Alabama beats Auburn with 28-17 score.
  • In year 2000, first game played in Tuscaloosa since 1901, Auburn won the match by 9-0. It is also to date the last time Alabama has been shutout.
  • In 2005, Auburn won the match by 28-18. A new record was made as the Alabama quarterback brodie Coyle was sacked 11 times.
  • In 2007, Auburn won again reaching a record streak of 6. Auburn won with 17-10 score.
  • In 2008, Alabama broke the Auburn six game streak by winning score of 36-0.
  • In 2010, Auburn defeated Alabama in Tuscaloosa after erasing a 24-0 deficit securing ‘the largest comeback in history; to its name.
  • In 2013, spectators witnessed a miraculous Auburn victory. With one second remaining, the game tied at 28-28. Alabama’s freshman kicker Adam Griffith attempted a 57-yard potential game-winning field goal. The kick fell short, and Auburn cornerback Chris Davis caught the ball at the back of the endzone and returned it 109 yards for a game-winning touchdown in what famously became known as the “Kick Six” game. The 2013 Iron Bowl won the ESPY Award for “Best Game” of the year in any sport, and the final play by Davis won the ESPY Award for “Best Play” of the year.
  • In 2014, Alabama defeated Auburn, this match was recorded the highest scoring iron bowl ever with a record score of 55-44.
  • In 2017, Auburn defeated Alabama with the largest margin of 26-14 since 1969.
  • In year 2019, Auburn defeated Alabama with 48-45 score. It was a breath-taking match. Alabama was, for the very first time since the creation of Playoff in 2014, knocked out of playoff contention. Since 2010 this defeat is also marked as the first time Alabama had two or more regular-season losses.

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