Auburn Vs. Alabama Preview: Can the Tide Actually Win One in Tuscaloosa?

Kelly Lambert-US PRESSWIRE

You might be surprised at how few Iron Bowl games Alabama has actually won in its home city. Just how likely is that number to grow by one this weekend?

Auburn Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Alabama has defeated Auburn once in Tuscaloosa. When you see that for the first time, you rub your eyes a little bit, refocus them to make sure you're reading it correctly, and then begin to wonder: How has a team with Alabama's pedigree defeated its main rival just once in its home stadium.

The chief reason is that there haven't been that many Iron Bowl games played in Tuscaloosa -- just eight. The two teams met there in 1895 and 1901 (combined Auburn margin of victory: 65-0) before the series began to be a nearly exclusively Birmingham event. The Iron Bowl would not visit Tuscaloosa again until 2000. The Tide's sole win in its home city came in 2008 with the 36-0 shellacking of Auburn that ended the Tigers' infamous "Fear the Thumb" winning streak. So Alabama has an overall 41-34-1 edge in the series, but most of those aren't going to help its home record.

The likelihood that Alabama will still have just one home win over Auburn after this weekend is exceedingly small. Even if there weren't so much on the line -- an Alabama loss would almost certainly make LSU the SEC West champion -- and even if the Tide weren't such a solid team this year, Auburn is extraordinarily bad.

There are a handful of categories in which Auburn's does not fall lower than 10th in the SEC, and none of them are of the particularly impressive kind: rushing offense (ninth), net punting (eighth), punt returns (eighth), kickoff returns (third) and passing yardage defense (eighth). There's a reason Gene Chizik is the fourth most-likely SEC coach to lose his job this year, and he's only that low on the list because the competition is fierce.

Despite the disappointing loss to Texas A&M two weeks ago, Alabama remains one of the best teams in the SEC. The rivalry game and the reverse home-field advantage might allow the Tigers to keep this one close for a while. But in the end, Alabama's punch will be too much for the Tigers.

Alabama 45, Auburn 17

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