The Iron Bowl rarely lacks a punch, but for the first time in over a decade the rivalry game could have a major impact on a national level.
Both schools are ranked for the first time since 2005, meaning the 75th playing of college football’s most frenzied rivalry could have BCS ramifications when No. 2 Auburn and No. 11 Alabama square off this afternoon (2:30 p.m., CBS).
As SI.com’s Bill Trocchi points out in his Game of the Week column, the Tigers (11-0) need a win to keep their national championship dreams alive while the Crimson Tide (9-2) could use an upset to boost BCS dreams of its own.
But this game means much more than just deciding which bowl game the two schools play in. Trocchi writes the Iron Bowl is about, “the passion, the pageantry, the 365-day obsession that pits neighbor versus neighbor and coworker versus coworker in the state of Alabama.”
It also pits some of college football’s most electric talent against one another. Auburn boasts Heisman candidate Cam Newton under center, while Alabama features a slew of NFL prospects, including the running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.
Although Newton and the Tigers have looked unstoppable on offense this season, Trocchi says the Crimson Tide has a strong chance to spoil Auburn’s perfect season thanks to a strong home-field advantage.
“Alabama’s defense will feed off the frenzied crowd and keep Newton relatively under control, while its offense will be able to score on a suspect Auburn defense,” writes Trocchi.
So what’s his prediction for Friday’s thriller?
“’Bama will wreck its rival’s perfect season. Alabama 34, Auburn 31.”
With the Iron Bowl serving as today’s first course of sports, here is some of the later action to catch on Black Friday (all times Eastern):
No. 24 Tennessee vs. No. 7 Villanova (5:00 p.m., ESPN
These two teams square off on the hardwood for the first time in 39 years when they meet in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game a Madison Square Garden.
No. 4 Boise State vs. No. 19 Nevada (10:15 p.m., ESPN)
The undefeated Broncos take on its toughest test of the season when they travel to Nevada (10-1) to face the Wolf Pack and its pistol offense, which is averaging 51.5 points per game this season.
BY THE NUMBERS
$48 – The average price of an NBA ticket this year, a 2.5 percent decrease from 2009. The NBA saw a 2.8 percent decrease the year before. The Lakers have the highest ticket average at $95 while Memphis boasts the lowest at $23.
$4,250,000 – The size of Tennessee quarterback Vince Young’s roster bonus for the 2011 season, according to a Fanhouse report. The bonus could help keep the embattled QB on the Titans.
5-7 – Record of the Texas Longhorns, who fell short of bowl eligibility after losing 25-17 to No. 17 Texas A&M on Thursday. The Longhorns played for the national championship last season and began this year in the Top 25.