Alabama Football: Iron Bowls are more predictable than not

Nov 28, 1981;Birmingham, AL, - Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 1981;Birmingham, AL, - Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports /

College football rivalry games are often described by the old phrase ‘you can throw out the record books.’ For Alabama Football and Auburn, the old phrase applied in last season’s Iron Bowl. Going back to the 2010 game, what can most accurately be called fluke wins by Auburn have fueled the belief anything can happen in an Iron Bowl.

The history of the series presents a different reality. In fact, most Iron Bowls have been won by the favored team.

There are at least four or five different Iron Bowl eras. The earliest one ended in 1908 when the two teams could not come to terms on how much the home team would pay the away team to reimburse its travel expenses. It was an insignificant amount by today’s standards, but also low enough in 1908 to not have been a deal-breaker. There was an additional concern the games were causing too violent situations, on and off the field.

A second era began with the renewal of the rivalry in 1948 and ended with Bear Bryant as Alabama’s coach. The seasons between Bryant and Saban could be considered third, fourth or fifth eras depending on individual perspectives.

Alabama Football Iron Bowl History

The Saban, Iron Bowl era is so well known, there is no need for a re-telling in this post. Alabama football fans who don’t know the pre-Saban Iron Bowls well may choose to click on the links below, for deep dives into the rivalry.

To review how often an underdog wins an Iron Bowl this post goes back to the 1990 season. In the 32 Iron Bowls going back to 1990, history shows favorites have most often prevailed.

Two of the 32 games were between unranked teams. In the other 30 games, the higher-ranked team won 22 times. In the eight games won by the lower-ranked team, only three times has an unranked team won the Iron Bowl.

The same kind of results occurred during what Auburn fans would call the Pat Dye era of Iron Bowls.

The rivalry was considerably changed after the last Iron Bowl was played in Birmingham, but minus two fluke wins by the Tigers in Jordan-Hare, the ‘favorite most often wins’ trend has continued.

Next. Auburn Tigers Offensive Preview. dark

Going into Saturday afternoon in Bryant-Denny, throwing out the record books will be espoused. But no matter how many people agree the game can be unpredictable, it is most often the opposite.