AUBURN — It's the kind of game that lives in people's memories for the rest of their lives.
It's a conversation starter; where were you when? It's one of the greatest memories for some and a miserable one for others.
The 2010 Iron Bowl featured the greatest comeback in the rivalry's history as Auburn rallied from 24 points down to defeat Alabama 28-27 in Tuscaloosa en route to the BCS National Championship. It's the kind of game which fuels college football rivalries.
"That was a good memory," Auburn defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker, then a freshman, said. "We go in the locker room and we come out for warm-ups and when I come out I've never heard that many words that I can't repeat. It's like, directly at me. As an individual you felt like they pointed you out and they let you know how they feel.
"And it was awful, man. As a freshman I'm going, ‘Oh my God.' And they're like, ‘you suck,' and this and that and that. But at the end of the day, the memory of that was the stunned look on everybody's face at the end of the game. It was priceless."
With Alabama leading 21-0 and driving early in the second quarter, Antoine Carter chased down Mark Ingram and forced a fumble. For Tigers defensive end Dee Ford, it was when the momentum shifted in the game. Alabama added a field goal to go up 24-0 and Auburn scored to cut it to 24-7 at half.
"Coming out in the locker room during halftime it was just, I don't know it was just this feeling, good feeling, but it was just some indescribable," Ford said. "It was just more guys looking at each other. They weren't even saying much, it was just more ‘you know what time it is.' It really wasn't even words said, it was just like a feeling like ‘hey let's go' and we came out that second half with a totally different vibe about us."
Two plays into the second half, Cam Newton hit Terrell Zachery for a 70-yard touchdown and Newton scored on a 1-yard run later in the third as the Tigers clawed back to 24-21.
Onterio McCalebb, then a sophomore, knew then Auburn was going to win.
"That whole day, it had been raining a little bit," McCalebb remembers. "It had been really cold, there wasn't no sun out. After our second touchdown we scored in the second half, you could see the sky started opening and the sun start coming out. Everyone on the sideline was like, ‘What's going on?' Everybody got up, and everybody was like, ‘we ain't gonna lose this game.'"
Newton found Philip Lutzenkirchen early in the fourth quarter as Auburn took a 28-27 lead and the rest is history; great history for Auburn and awful history for Alabama.
"It was a great day. It was a very fun day," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "It was obviously a memory that will last forever for everybody. It was very unique and hadn't probably happened very much over the test of time with anybody that has gone into that stadium. It was great for our fans. It was great for our coaches and players. Obviously the rest of the season was history. That was a great day."
So much has changed in less than two years since the 2010 Iron Bowl. Auburn (3-8, 0-7 SEC) has plummeted to the bottom of the SEC West division in the worst season in 60 years for the program.
Chizik has been under enormous scrutiny and his job status after today's game is at best undecided.
The challenge for the Tigers against No. 2-ranked Alabama (10-1, 6-1) today is entirely different than it was two years ago. Some of the faces are the same but many are not.
Will Auburn, a 31-point underdog, be able to make even more history or will Alabama make its way to the SEC Championship?
Today's 77th installment of the Iron Bowl will be historic, one way or the other.