'Spoiler' Not Part Of Motivation

There is much talk about Alabama playing the role of "spoiler" Friday. Where is that talk? Among fans on internet sites and talk radio, particularly when fueled by radio hosts. No Crimson Tide players or coaches are motivated to ruin Auburn's season.

Alabama hosts Auburn at 1:30 p.m. CST Friday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. CBS will televise the game.

Although Alabama has not achieved the success of last year's undefeated national championship team, or met the expectations of those who made pre-season predictions, the Crimson Tide has been a good team. Bama is 9-2 overall and 5-2 in Southeastern Conference games, both losses coming against nationally ranked teams on the road.

Auburn has been better, 11-0 overall and 7-0 in SEC games. Auburn is ranked second in the nation and Alabama ninth.

Alabama has won more Southeastern Conference championships than any other team. By far. The Tide has 22 and No. 2 Tennessee has 13. Auburn has six, the same number as Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech? Didn't they leave the SEC in the early 1960s? Yep.

Alabama has more national championships than any other SEC team. Again, by far. No matter how you count them (the Tide counts 13) Bama is a true national power and clearly the cream of the SEC crop.

Alabama will be playing in a bowl game this year. That's a familiar role for the Crimson Tide. No team in the nation has played in more bowl games or won more bowl games than the Crimson Tide. Bama has been particularly noteworthy for playing in and winning major bowl games.

A win over Auburn could help the Tide move up the bowl pecking order, perhaps (with other things that are out of Alabama's control) even landing a BCS at-large bid.

Another area in which Alabama has been best in college football history is 10-win seasons. A win over Auburn adds to that impressive record.

Alabama also has a winning record against Auburn. Of course, Alabama has a winning record against every SEC team. The Tide would like to add to that margin against the Tigers. Bama has a current two-game winning streak against Auburn and wants to keep that going.

Bama has a 20-game winning streak at Bryant-Denny Stadium and, naturally, wants to continue that streak.

Alabama and Auburn have players who come from the same towns, same high schools. There are many friendships between players, but friend or not, no one wants to meet his friend from the other side after having lost. The state championship is important.

More than anything, athletes are competitors who want to win every game. On the field, playing by the rules. Once the game begins, that is the only motivation.

Are there games within the game? Perhaps. In 1971, Alabama and Auburn were both undefeated. Auburn has the Heisman Trophy winner, Pat Sullivan, at quarterback. On the day the teams met, Alabama's Terry Davis was the better quarterback and Alabama had a 31-7 victory.

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