"Nick Saban dominated the headlines, but the Iron Bowl still belongs to Tommy Tuberville and Auburn," read the opening line of the Associated Press recap of Auburn's 17-10 win over Alabama on Nov. 24, 2007.
Ten years and one day later, Nick Saban still dominates the headlines but the rest seems like decades-old nightmares for Alabama fans, ones who suffered through six consecutive losses to Auburn, five of which were one-score games.
That 2007 game was Saban's first Iron Bowl. He had arrived in Tuscaloosa the previous winter to inject much-needed energy and stability into a once-proud program that failed to top seven wins in five of the last seven seasons. While that 2007 matchup was another painful punch to the gut in the rivalry — 225 total yards, 3-for-15 on third down, 12-for-26 passing — it was the final blow of annual Iron Bowl agony for the Tide.
Between 2002-07, Auburn won the six matchups by a total of 47 points, or an average of 7.8 points per game. None were decided by more than 10 points and only once did Alabama score more than 20 points. The 2007 victory pulled Auburn within five games of tying the all-time series (33-38-1), their closest margin in decades.
Then Saban woke up the Tide.
In 2008, Alabama obliterated Auburn. They registered the biggest Iron Bowl margin of victory in 46 years with a 36-0 win to complete a 12-0 regular season that put them within one game of a berth in the BCS National Championship. Alabama outgained Auburn 412-170, forced three turnovers while committing zero and held the Tigers to a 1.9 yards-per-carry average (57 yards on 30 attempts).
Though Auburn has won two games since then (2010 and 2013), they've come by a total of seven points. The margin of victory for Alabama's seven Iron Bowl wins since 2008: 23.3 points. The Tigers have twice been throttled on their home turf in losing seven of the last nine games.
The stakes are high on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, where the winner will take home the SEC West title and be within a game of a playoff spot. Can Auburn pick up just their third Iron Bowl win of the last decade, or will Nick Saban once again dominate the headlines while winning his eighth Iron Bowl?