The rivalry between the Auburn University Tigers and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide is one of the oldest and most virulent rivalries in college sports. The two teams, rivals in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), first met in 1893 and have met annually since 1948 in an event known as the "Iron Bowl," so named because of Birmingham's prominence as an iron producer. The game is viewed as the most important game on either team's schedule and losses in the game have been factors in the dismissal of several coaches.
The series has historically been close, with Alabama currently leading the all-time series with a record of 40-33-1. The teams typically exchange eras where one team or the other dominates. With their resurgence under coach Nick Saban, Alabama has won the last two games in the series. Alabama's wins followed a six year period where Auburn dominated the Iron Bowl, a period that helped contribute to the firing of Alabama coach Mike Shula, who presided over four of those losses. Auburn's six year winning streak is not the series' longest streak; that would be Alabama's nine year run from 1973-1981.
Because of Alabama's and Auburn's status as SEC powers, the Iron Bowl has often been played for stakes higher than simple team pride. A notable example is the 1972 edition of the game, which featured a 10-0 Alabama team with national title aspirations against an 8-1 Auburn team. Alabama led the game 16-3 in the fourth quarter, but Auburn was able to capitalize on two blocked Alabama punts to come back and win the game 17-16, ruining Alabama's title hopes. The game came to be known as "Punt Bama Punt," a nickname which caused Alabama fans to dub the next year's 35-0 Alabama victory to be "Score Auburn Score."
Another notable game in the rivalry occurred the previous year, when both teams were undefeated and in the hunt for the national title. Auburn also had the man who would be that year's Heisman trophy winner, Pat Sullivan. Alabama was able to beat Auburn 31-7 and play for the title, which they ultimately lost to Nebraska.
A similar match-up came in 1994, when both Alabama and Auburn again entered the game undefeated and ranked in the AP top 10. Auburn also came into the game with a 21 game unbeaten streak. However, Alabama was able to come away with a 21-14 victory, snapping Auburn's streak and sending the Tide into the SEC Championship game. Typically, Alabama vs. Auburn football tickets have been the hardest and most expensive ticket to get of all SEC matchups.