TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) – The 2010 Iron Bowl stands to be one of the most important college football games that many Auburn and Alabama fans will see in their lifetimes. Much is riding on this game and the ancient rivalry has never been stronger.
The focal point of this year's game centers on Auburn's championship chances. Ranked at number 2 in the BCS standings, Auburn is serious competition for the National Championship. Auburn has already clenched a spot in the SEC Championship games against 18th ranked South Carolina, a team the Tigers have already claimed a victory over this year.
At this point in the season, a loss to the University of Alabama would be a devastating blow to Auburn's championship chances. UA comes to this game ranked at number 11 and is the 4.5 point favorite in the game. While they are not playing for a championship possibility, beating their biggest rivals for the third year in a row and taking away a perfect season is plenty of motivation to get any Crimson Tide player fired up for this game.
Not overshadowed by the rivalry, much of the hype of this year's Iron Bowl remains with the allegations against Auburn's phenom of a quarterback, Cam Newton. Over the past several weeks, claims of soliciting money for the player's signature on a letter of intent by Newton's father have garnered scrutiny for the player. So far, there has been no connection to Newton himself and the NCAA has been quiet over this issue.
If the allegations are affecting Newton in any way, he has yet to show it. Immediately after the brunt of the claims had all of college football talking, the quarterback went on to put up impressive numbers with a win over the University of Georgia. Newton remains a contender for the Maxwell and Davey O'Brien awards and is said to be the Heisman front-runner.
The Crimson Tide go into the game with hopes of redemption for a season that fell flat on the team's original expectations. A tough stretch of away games saw UA stumble against a well coached South Carolina and then fall for the tricks of Les Miles for a close loss against LSU. These two losses were enough to lock out the Tide's championship dreams as Auburn secured the SEC West nod with their win over Georgia.
Despite the losses, the Tide has managed to stay high in the rankings with their tough schedule taken into account. This could be seen as a lesson for any Auburn player thinking the formerly top-ranked team has fallen to a point of irrelevance. The lesson would also have a vice-versa, as Tide players should never take their points favorite status for granted. No matter who the underdog is in the Iron Bowl, the victor will be the one who comes prepared and plays the hardest.