AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Bragging rights are taking a backseat for a change in this Iron Bowl.
It's No. 1 Alabama versus No. 4 Auburn Saturday in a rivalry game that has reached epic proportions in the state beyond even the usual craving for 364 days of rubbing it in.
The winner of only the second Top-5 matchup in the Iron Bowl's 78-year history will play for the Southeastern Conference championship, and live on in the national title derby.
"Oh man, it's going to be a battle," Crimson Tide receiver Kevin Norwood said.
If the SEC title game has been a national semifinal game during the league's seven-year run of BCS champs, welcome to what could amount to the quarterfinals. Iron Bowl style.
The Tide (11-0, 7-0 SEC) remains the national front-runner and is a 10.5-point favorite for this one. The Tigers (10-1, 6-1) have arguably been the season's biggest surprise, though unlike Alabama they'd likely still need either No. 2 Florida State or No. 3 Ohio State to lose.
Auburn has lost the past two Iron Bowls by a combined 91-14 and failed to produce an offensive touchdown in either game. Much has changed since coach Gus Malzahn's arrival.