Senior Linebacker Playing Final Iron Bowl

Auburn, Ala.--Linebacker Karibi Dede didn't know much about Auburn when he arrived on the Plains in January of 2002. He had actually never been to Auburn when he moved from Dumfries, Va., but he knew about the Iron Bowl.

"I knew about it because it is that big," Dede explains. "I didn't know a lot about Auburn and I didn't know a lot about Alabama, but I knew about it. You've got your traditional rivalries and this is one of the big, big rivalries in the country. It could be the biggest. It's definitely top three. The tradition, the hatred and passion that goes into this one runs deep."

Now as a senior, the Virginia native is making his third start in the Iron Bowl and has a better understanding of the tradition, hatred and passion involved with this game.

"People will e-mail you, write you on Facebook or Myspace, call you, leave messages or text messages," he says of Auburn fans. "I had the mailman deliver a package for my roommate. He sat there for a minute talking about the rivalry. He said this is the one--the only one."

It didn't take long after the loss to Georgia for the Auburn fans to turn their attention to Alabama. While walking back to the athletic complex after a practice at the stadium early in the week, Dede says he got his first dose of what it is going to be like until kickoff on Saturday.

"A lady stopped her truck and she said ‘You can't come half-stepping for this one. This is the one.' It was almost like she angry or mad a little bit as if it was personal and she wanted us to take care of it and go get them for her," Dede says. "You could hear it in her voice and that's kind how some people are around here and how the rivalry is. It's just one of the things where you don't get a chance to redo it for another 365 days. It'll last every bit of that long."

Saturday's game means a lot to all of the Auburn seniors.

Saturday's game, which kicks off shortly after 2:30 p.m. on CBS, will be the Tigers' fourth trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium during the modern era. Auburn won the previous three 9-0 in 2000, 17-7 in 2002 and 21-13 in 2004. The Tigers have also won the last two Iron Bowls played in Jordan-Hare. Despite Auburn's recent success in Tuscaloosa and in the overall series, as well as the Tide's 6-5 record this season, Dede says he doesn't expect anything less than a battle.

"Alabama has been in a transition period," he says of the Mike Shula Era. "They've got a new coach, quarterback changes and younger players coming in, but I guarantee you it'll be a ball game. This one here is going to be a four-quarter game.

"The minute you get in that part of the state and you start getting near, you already know," Dede adds. "Flags start flying a different color and you see little babies that are ready to get at you. It's that big of a rivalry and it's that intense."

While Alabama players like Kenneth Darby and Le'Ron McClain have been complaining to the media about how the ‘Fear the Thumb' slogan shows a lack of respect, Auburn players have said that it's just something for the fans and the previous four wins don't mean anything this week.

Even though McClain guaranteed that the streak won't reach five "if Le'Ron McClain has anything to do with it," Dede says that he has a lot of respect for the Alabama offense.

"The first thing that has impressed me is their backfield," he says. "They have a real a real good fullback (McClain) and they obviously have a great tailback (Darby). The fullback does a real good job of leading through on all of their plays. Their tailback finds a way to break tackles, and also the second string tailback, No. 10 (Jimmy Johns), is a great player, too. He can make a lot of great things happen.

"Obviously the quarterback (John Parker Wilson) is a talent and he can get the ball around the field. I think the main thing for us is that we need to contain Darby. He catches the ball well out of the backfield and he's one of those guys, for some odd reason or another, he's just difficult to tackle. He's a hard guy to bring down one-on-one."

Dede says he has a lot of respect for Darby and the Alabama backfield.

A win for Auburn would give the Tigers its second 10-win season in the last three years. It would give the senior class the most wins during a four-year period in school history with 40. A win for Alabama could help avoid a third six-loss season in four years and could be a potential job saver for some of Shula's staff.

"Their school has had a rough year so I think this game being the last one means everything to them right there in their stadium." Dede says. "To us, with the season we've had, we lost two games and there has been some disappointment. When you look over the years at two-loss teams you're looking at pretty good ball clubs. But because of the way the season has played out and we've ranked so high at times and we've been in the national championship race, people look at it a big let down and disappointment. We just want to go out and win the next one."

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