Two Years Later, it's a Role Reversal in the 2012 Iron Bowl

By: John Zenor (with edits by WTOK)
By: John Zenor (with edits by WTOK)

So much has changed since the last time Alabama welcomed Auburn into Bryant-Denny stadium.

The second-ranked Crimson Tide were victims of the largest comeback in Iron Bowl history two years ago. Alabama is the team with flourishing Southeastern Conference and national title aspirations going into Saturday's game.

The Tigers bear little resemblance to the team that Cam Newton rallied from 24 points down two years ago on their way to a national title.

With everything left to play for, Alabama is a 31.5-point favorite in what shapes up to be one of the biggest mismatches the Iron Bowl rivalry has seen. The Tide's Damion Square says he expects Auburn "to come play some bigtime football."

Embattled Auburn coach Gene Chizik says it will take a "near-flawless" performance to win.

The rivalry has a storied history that isn't sprinkled with many big upsets.

If the Tigers were to somehow beat the second-ranked Crimson Tide on Saturday, it might be the biggest of all. Alabama is three wins away from a second straight national title.

Former Auburn athletic director David Housel says an upset "would be the most surprising Auburn win" in Iron Bowl history. He says the lone exception might be 1949 when the Tigers avenged a 55-0 loss from the year before.

The Tide won last season 42-14.

The winner three years running has won the national title and Alabama hopes to make it four. Auburn hopes to make it four, too: wins, that is.

The game will feature two quarterbacks at very different stages in their careers. Auburn freshman Jonathan Wallace is making his first road start Saturday against AJ McCarron and No. 2 Alabama. Wallace was still in high school with no scholarship offer from the Tigers when McCarron was being named MVP of the national championship game. Wallace says he is in a good position.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik says his freshman is "mature beyond his years." Wallace will be the first freshman quarterback to start the Iron Bowl for the Tigers since Gabe Gross in 1988 and third ever.

McCarron is a veteran with a 22-2 record as a starter and 36 touchdown passes compared to four for Wallace. His 21 TD passes is an Alabama single-season record.

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