Connect with us

Alabama Football Highlights

Is Auburn Even a Worthy “Biggest Rival” Anymore?

Given that lately the Auburn Tigers aren’t exactly holding up their end of the “Big Game” status, should they really be considered Alabama’s biggest rivals?

Does Auburn really rival Alabama for anything anymore? (Photo-Cedric Mason)

Is Auburn Even a Worthy “Biggest Rival” Anymore?

By: Larry Burton

During coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s day, the Auburn Rivalry overtook what was the biggest rivalry Alabama had before that, the Tennessee rivalry. Because of that, it has remained what fans call their biggest rivalry game. I can only recall Bryant ever saying the word Auburn one time and that was in reference to his rival and good friend, Auburn coach “Shug” Jordan. I recall Bryant saying, “Auburn was lucky to have had him.” Usually they were referred to by Bryant as, “That school down the road” or that “Cow college”.

But is it worthy of the title of “Biggest Rival”? Maybe then because before Bryant’s arrival, Auburn had the upper hand in the series for a while. But that hasn’t been the case since these players left elementary school.

A rival doesn’t have to be the school in state or closest to you, but the one that rivals you for the power you want. It’s the team you want to be the worst to get the fame and glory you desire.

So the question is, what fame and glory does the Tide get from beating Auburn year in and year out? Since Saban’s arrival, the Auburn Tigers usually have just won on some miraculous play in an upset. When Alabama wins, it’s the usual stomping.

For a time it looked like the LSU series could overtake the Iron Bowl as the game that fans wanted to win the most. But lately, that series too has taken the feeling of just another game and a win as usual as the Tide has taken 8 of the last 10.

The Tennessee series has become a laugher as well with Alabama winning 10 of the last 10 games.

Now with Auburn falling into the possibility of losing 7 out of the last ten, it’s time to ponder if they really are worthy of being called “rivals”, because they really haven’t been a legitimate rival for for a decade now.

After winning two in a row, Ole Miss raised their heads in the rivalry debate, but with the Tide’s win this season, examining the record, it’s not much of a rivalry with Alabama winning 8 of the last 10.

Looking back over the last ten years, there’s really no one in the SEC who could consistently say that they have “rivaled” Alabama in any way. Nick Saban’s legacy will be that during his time at Alabama, he really had no rivals in the SEC that could match up to his teams.

So if you want to look for teams that have been a worthy rival, someone who has cost Alabama some glory and a shot at the title, only two teams readily come to mind.

Oklahoma is 3-1-1 against Alabama, costing them a shot a national title in 2014 and beating them again in 2002 and 2003. In fact, Alabama hasn’t beaten Oklahoma since 1963. So in terms of proving to be a real “rival”, there is your biggest target.

And even though the Tide has a three to one advantage in meetings with Ohio State, no school may have a higher “pay back” factor to the Crimson Tide fans. This is not just due to the Buckeyes defeating Alabama in the 2014 season for a national championship, it’s the way the fans ran off at the mouth about it. So there too is a worth rival.

And though Oklahoma is at this point an unlikely post season opponent, it appears that Ohio State has a better chance of meeting up with Alabama at season’s end. The outcome of that game could do one of two things, restore balance to the Crimson Tide’s universe or put Ohio State in the cross hairs of Alabama’s most wanted teams to beat. If so, then that is a rival, worthy of being a rival.

Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at


Facebook Comments

Larry Burton is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and was the most read SEC and Alabama football writer during his time at Bleacher Report. He has been credentialed by all the major bowls and the University of Alabama. Larry provides some of the best insight in the business through his "Larry's Lowdown" segment with TDA.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Alabama Football Highlights