An Uncivil War

The battle for bragging rights in the state of Alabama takes place this Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium, when the University of Alabama meets arch-rival Auburn University. The 2002 game in Tuscaloosa is the 67th meeting between these two bitter rivals, with Alabama holding a 38-27-1 series lead.

Alabama/Auburn Series History

Alabama has won three of the last four meetings with Auburn, including last year's 31-7 win on the Plains. The Tigers lone win in the last four meetings was a 9-0 shutout win over the Crimson Tide in the last game at Tuscaloosa during the 2000 season.

The road team has won the last three meetings, with Alabama claiming two of those wins in 1999 and 2001. Prior to 1999, the Crimson Tide had fallen short in its first four trips to the Plains (1989, 1993, 1995 and 1997), but have won two straight on the Plains.

In all, Alabama has won eight of the last 12 meetings with the Tigers, dating back to 1990.

Alabama and Auburn first met in 1893 with the Tigers claiming a 32-22 win in Birmingham. The game was actually played Feb. 22, 1893 at Birmingham's Lakeview Park. The Tide earned its first series win in 1894, claiming an 18-0 victory over the Tigers.

Auburn built a 6-1 series lead after a four-game winning streak from 1895-1902, in which the Tigers outscored the Crimson Tide, 141-5. Alabama answered the Tigers winning streak with a 3-1-1 mark over the next five meetings, ending with a 6-6 tie in 1907. The Crimson Tide posted victories in 1903 (18-6), 1905 (30-0) and 1906 (10-0), while Auburn won in 1904 (29-5). Following a 6-6 tie after the 1907 season, Alabama and Auburn would not play football again for 41 seasons. (See details later on why the series was halted).

When the series finally resumed in 1948, the Tide emerged as a 55-0 winner at Birmingham's Legion Field. After the Tigers eked out a 14-13 victory in 1949, Bama rebounded to win the next four meetings from 1950-53. From 1903-53, Alabama and Auburn met a total of 11 times, with the Crimson Tide posting an 8-2-1 record against its cross-state rival. The next five years (1954-58) momentum swung to Auburn's side of the state as the Tigers put together a five-game winning streak, its longest in the series' 60-game history. Auburn posted easy wins over the Tide in 1954 (28-0), 1955 (26-0), 1956 (34-7) and 1957 (40-0) before "Mama called" and Paul Bryant took over the coaching reigns at Alabama.

After losing by an average of 30 points per game from 1954-57, the Tide lost by only six points (14-8) in Bryant's first meeting with the Tigers. If not for a fourth-quarter interception on the Tide's potential winning touchdown drive in 1958, Bryant's team may have pulled off the upset. Following that narrow loss, Bryant directed Alabama to four straight wins over the Tigers (1959-62), outscoring its arch-rival, 85-0.

Alabama dominated the series from 1959-68, winning nine of 10 games, including five in a row from 1964-68. A 10-8 Auburn upset of Alabama during the 1963 season kept the Tide from reeling off 10 straight wins over its arch-rival. In 1963, reserve quarterback Mailon Kent came off the bench to lead Auburn to victory.

The Pat Sullivan-to-Terry Beasley combination proved costly to the Tide in 1969-70, snapping Alabama's five-game winning streak. In 1968, Auburn defeated Alabama 49-26, and followed with a 33-28 win in 1970. In 1969, Bama signal-caller Scott Hunter out-dueled Sullivan, but the Tiger star won the game. Hunter completed 30 of 55 passes for 469 yards in a losing effort for the Tide. Hunter's marks all remain in the Alabama record books as single-game records.

In 1970, Alabama halfback Johnny Musso carried the ball a school-record 42 times for 221 yards in a loss to the Tigers.

The following year, Sullivan brought his Heisman Trophy award to Legion Field, but lost to the Tide before a national television audience, 31-7. Musso, who came to the game on crutches with a sore big toe, ran the ball 31 times for 167 yards and two TDs as Alabama beat Auburn, 31-7. Musso was named Associated Press' National Back of the Week for his efforts against the Tigers. In 1972, Auburn got back on track with a stunning 17-16 win over the second-ranked Crimson Tide. Alabama outgained Auburn (the Tigers had only 57 yards of offense) in total offense and led 16-3 late in the game, when lightning struck not once, but twice. Bill Newton blocked two consecutive Gregg Gantt punts and David Langer scooped them both up and scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns as Auburn pulled off the monumental upset. The 2002 season marks the 20th anniversary of that game.

Alabama got revenge in 1973, winning 35-0, and beginning a decade of domination over the Tigers. In addition to its 35-0 win over the Tigers, the UA defense limited Auburn to one first down. The Crimson Tide would win the next nine games with Auburn, the longest winning streak in series history. Alabama won all nine games by an average of 16.5 points per game. Alabama also posted shutout wins in 1973 (35-0) and 1975 (28-0). The 1975 game marked the final Alabama-Auburn game for Tiger coaching legend Ralph "Shug" Jordan.

Bama's most narrow margin of victory was a 17-13 win in 1974. After four straight double-digit wins (1975-78), the Crimson Tide rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Auburn, 25-18, in 1979. Steadman Shealy's run with eight minutes left in the game, preserved Alabama's first undefeated regular-season since 1971.

The 1981 game will go down as the most memorable day in this state's sports history. Saturday, Nov. 28, 1981 Alabama defeated Auburn 28-17 to make legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant the winningest coach in major college football history. The Tide's fourth-quarter rally gave the "Bear" his 315th coaching victory moving him ahead of Amos Alonzo Stagg as the winningest coach in college football. The game also marked the first meeting between Coach Bryant and former assistant coach Pat Dye, the first-year Auburn coach.

Auburn ended Alabama's winning streak with a 23-23 win in 1982. Despite out-gaining the Tigers, Alabama lost to its arch-rival for the first time since 1972. AU freshman halfback Bo Jackson scored the winning touchdown on a fourth-and-goal form the Bama one. Jackson and Auburn made it two in a row the following year, 23-20. Jackson rushed for 258 yards and scored two touchdowns before heavy rains and the threat of a tornado hovered over Legion Field for the final quarter.

In 1984 and 1985, Alabama gained the upper-hand winning two games decided by field goals on the final play. In 1984, Auburn's Robert McGinty missed a 35-yarder in the final 30 seconds as Alabama upset Auburn, 17-15. The following year, Van Tiffin nailed a 52-yard field goal as time expired to give Alabama a dramatic 25-23 win. The lead changed hands four times in the final 15 minutes with Tiffin's field goal providing the winning margin.

Auburn won four straight games over Alabama from 1986-89, including a 30-20 decision in the first ever meeting at Jordan-Hare Stadium. AU's four-game winning streak was the school's longest since winning five in a row from 1954-58.

In Gene Stallings' first-year as head coach (1990), Alabama ended Auburn's run with a 16-7 win. The victory made Stallings the first coach to win his Alabama-Auburn debut since Harold "Red" Drew directed the Tide to a 55-0 rout in 1948, the first meeting between the two schools since 1907.

The 1992 game marked the final game for Auburn coach Pat Dye, who announced his retirement from coaching. The former assistant coach at Alabama under Paul Bryant, suffered his only career shutout (17-0) in the final game of his career.

In 1993, Auburn capped a perfect season with a 22-14 win over the Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Trailing 14-8 in the third quarter, Patrick Nix, subbing for the injured Stan White, completed a 35-yard TD pass on fourth down, cutting Alabama's lead to 14-12 with six minutes left in the third quarter. Auburn won the game with 10 fourth-quarter points, including a 70-yard run by James Bostic with just over two minutes to play.

In 1994, Bama jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and held the Tigers on a fourth-down play in the final period to win 21-14. Three years ago (1995), Auburn won 31-27 at Jordan-Hare Stadium, as Alabama's fourth quarter drive ended on fourth down near the Tigers 20-yard line.

In 1996, Alabama defeated the Tigers in coach Gene Stallings final regular-season game as the Tide's head coach. The seven-year Tide mentor announced his retirement after the Tide's emotional 24-23 win over the Tigers. Freddie Kitchens' six-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Riddle with 32 seconds to play provided the winning margin.

In 1997, Alabama (4-6 record) team played its most inspired game of the season and if not for a third-down fumble in the final minute of the game would have pulled off the series' biggest upset since 1972. After the Ed Scissum fumble, Auburn moved into field goal range when Jaret Holmes nailed the game-winner giving the Tigers an 18-17 win and sending the home crowd into a frenzy. In 1998, Auburn, playing its most inspired game of the season, jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead over the Crimson Tide, but could not hold on to the lead. Alabama cut the deficit to 17-14 at halftime and cruised in the second half to a an easy 31-17 win. The 31 points scored by Alabama were the most in the series since the Tide scored a 34-18 win in 1980.

Alabama registered its first-ever win in Jordan Hare Stadium with 28-17 win to clinch the SEC Western Division title in 1999. Kindal Moorehead's sack, which resulted in a safety, ignited the Crimson Tide. Shaun Alexander rushed for over 100 yards in the final quarter and added three TDs for the Crimson Tide.

The 2000 game was played in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 1901 as Auburn posted a 9-0 win. Three Damon Duval field goals were all the scoring the two teams could muster on a cold, dreary day in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

It was the first shutout since 1992 when Alabama blanked Auburn, 17-0. It marked the Tigers first shutout of the Crimson Tide since a 10-0 win in 1987. In addition, the 2000 game marked the first time since 1960 that neither team scored a touchdown. Alabama posted a 3-0 win in that 1960 clash.

Alabama made its two in-a-row at Jordan-Hare Stadium with a 31-7 victory last season. Andrew Zow led the Crimson Tide offense in the air, while Ahmaad Galloway and Santonio Beard ran for more than 100 yards each in the Crimson Tide's most-lopsided win since a 48-21 victory at Legion Field in 1977. For his efforts, Zow was named the SEC Player of the Week.

More Series Lore

Just about everyone knows of the rich history and tradition associated with the Alabama-Auburn series, but some people may not be aware that the rivalry was discontinued for more than 40 years in the first half of the century. A few seemingly minor disagreements between the teams resulted in the series being cancelled in 1908. It was not resumed until the 1948 season.

Though there are myths about fighting and other violence necessitating a dismissal of the series, the truth is that only problems between the two teams emerged over the referee and per diem money for the players.

In winning the 1906 game, Alabama used an offensive formation that Auburn head coach Mike Donahue declared illegal. After Alabama implemented a similar formation in 1907, Auburn insisted that their next meeting be officiated by an umpire from outside the South. Alabama thought this request to be ludicrous, and that became the first matter of disagreement between the two schools.

The second conflict, which was over per diem, essentially amounted to $33. Each team was allowed 22 players on its roster. Auburn wanted each player to receive $3.50, while Alabama thought the amount should be only two dollars.

After arguing for several months over these two matters, the teams finally reached a compromise and decided not to play in 1908. By this point, however, their schedules had been set for the season, and neither team's opponents were willing to move. Alabama suggested playing the game after Thanksgiving, but Auburn's Board of Trustees would not allow them to play beyond the holiday,

Thus, the game was not played in 1908, and it was not placed on the schedule the following year. Attempts to revive the game in 1911, 1919, 1932 and 1944 all failed. Finally, in the spring of 1948, behind the initiative of Alabama President John Galilee, an agreement was reached to resume the series in Birmingham that fall.

Prior to the game, student body presidents Gilis Cammock of Alabama and Willie Johns of Auburn participated in a symbolic "burying of the hatchet" ceremony at Woodrow Wilson Park in Birmingham. The two teams rekindled their rivalry at Legion Field on Dec. 4, 1948 and the two teams have played annually since then.

Alabama-Auburn History Books

One of the nation's most storied football series, the Alabama-Auburn series has had two books written about its great rivalry. Bill Cromartie (Atlanta, Ga.) has written a book entitled Braggin' Rights, a game-by-game history of one of the nation's greatest rivalries. The book is now in its fourth printing.

In addition, Scott Brown and Will Collier co-authored the book The Uncivil War, a look at the rivalry that divides family, friends and the entire state. The book was published in 1995.

Most recently, Sports Illustrated's Ivan Maisel and Kelly Whitseide co-authored a book, War in Dixie, on the Alabama-Auburn rivalry.

Family Tides

Three current Alabama players have had fathers, who have played in the annual Alabama-Auburn game.
  • Freshman QB Brodie Croyle's father, John, played for Alabama in 1971-73 and posted a 2-1 record against the Tigers. John Croyle had 10 tackles and two TFLs (-26) in his career against Auburn.
  • Sophomore tight end David Cavan's father, Pete, played in two Iron Bowl's in 1975 and 1977. The elder Cavan ran four times for four yards in those two games. He missed the 1976 game with a knee injury.
  • Junior wide receiver Lance Taylor's father, James, played against Auburn in 1973, 1974 and 1975. He had five carries for 35 yards and one TD in his career against the Tigers. His lone TD was an eight-yard run with 1:49 left in the game to give the Crimson Tide a 35-0 win.
  • The 1973 games was totally dominated by Alabama, who held Auburn to just one first down and less than 60 total yards.
  • Croyle and Taylor were teammates in the 1973 Iron Bowl, won by Alabama 35-0.

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