Against Alabama Football on Saturday, the Auburn Tigers have two important goals. Neither one is gaining a win over the Alabama Crimson Tide. Sure, Hugh Freeze, his staff, and his players want to win the game. But that is so unlikely, it is not an important goal.
Important goal No. 1 for the Tigers is not to be embarrassed in a blowout loss. Important goal No. 2 is to play well enough that the losing result will not relegate the Tigers to the Birmingham Bowl.
Not that the Birmingham Bowl is inferior to other lesser bowl games. It is played in a nice, new stadium in a revitalized part of downtown Birmingham. But for many Auburn fans, another drive up Highway 280 from Auburn brings little excitement. An Auburn season that ends with a Birmingham Bowl always symbolizes a season’s failure. Even though the Tigers have only played in two Birmingham Bowls, Alabama football fans make so many jokes about them, to the Aubies the two games must feel more like five or six.
Plus the Auburn Tigers were in the game recently, losing to Houston, 17-13 in 2021.
Auburn fans are hoping for a better bowl, though not many college football pundits predict anything much better than the Birmingham Bowl. The bowl games most frequently associated with the Tigers are the Texas Bowl, the Music City Bowl, and the Liberty Bowl.
A trip to Nashville for the Music City Bowl could be fun for Auburn fans. The SEC will decide which of its teams go to the Music City and five other bowls. If after those six teams are chosen, and Auburn is not selected, then the Birmingham Bowl and the Gasparilla Bowl get to fill their SEC slots. In that scenario, Auburn fans would likely prefer Tampa to Birmingham.
Based on its arrangement with the SEC, ESPN Events gets to choose the SEC teams in the Birmingham and Gasparilla Bowls.
Alabama Football and Auburn Bowl History
Alabama football fans never tire of making fun of Auburn. The Tigers, however, have a strong bowl history. That history is not as impressive as what the Crimson Tide has done, but Auburn has played in 16 bowl games this century. The Alabama Crimson Tide has played in 26. Those numbers include CFB Playoff National Championship games.
Note: Alabama and Auburn bowl history provided by Sports Reference
The Crimson Tide has its own important and more lofty goals for Saturday’s game.