Alabama Football: Is Auburn the Tide’s greatest rival?

[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Iron Bowl 2018
[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Iron Bowl 2018 /

Is the Iron Bowl Alabama football’s biggest rivalry?

When you are one of the greatest programs in college football history, you are bound to have plenty of rivals. Alabama football has a few inside and outside of the conference. Everyone considers the Iron Bowl to be Alabama’s greatest rivalry, but is it really the best rivalry that the Tide have?

This era certainly hints at that. Either Alabama or Auburn has won the SEC West in 11 of the last 13 years, and most of those crowns were decided in the Iron Bowl. Auburn has thwarted the Crimson Tide’s title hopes many times, and most of their wins have been in dramatic fashion.

However, a rivalry doesn’t come down to what is happening right now. It includes decades of tradition and competition. Because of that, some believe that Tennessee is Alabama football’s biggest rival. The Crimson Tide play Tennessee every year, and it used to be played on the third Saturday in October. It was essentially a holiday for both teams. While this rivalry has been far from competitive in recent years, it used to be huge. Current Alabama fans have grown accustomed to winning, but that was far from the case during the Peyton Manning era of Tennessee football.

There is also Alabama football’s new rivalry with LSU. Nick Saban coaching for both schools adds a level to this rivalry, and it doesn’t hurt that they played against each other in the National Championship. However, Alabama consistently beats the Tigers. The rivalry aspect of that matchup does not have the same history as the others.

While teams like Georgia and Clemson have certainly been competitive with Alabama football in recent years, you cannot compare them with Tennessee and Auburn. Alabama’s biggest rival has to be a yearly competitor.

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So, which team is Alabama’s biggest rival. While many will say that it is Tennessee, I’m going to go with Auburn. The close proximity of those fan bases moves the needle. Alabama fans can’t go to the grocery store in the state without seeing Auburn fans. That grinds the gears of this yearly rivalry, and having state bragging rights makes it that much more competitive. It is a tough decision, but I’m sticking with the Iron Bowl.