The Iron Bowl will be extra spicy this year, what with the significant conference and BCS title implications involved. It's setting up to be one of the biggest games ever between Alabama and Auburn, and fans are certainly treating it that way -- tailgaters for this contest showed up in droves at Jordan-Hare Stadium a week ago. This is the hate week to end all hate weeks.
Can Auburn run on the Alabama defense? That might be what this game comes down to. The Tigers have relied on a potent rushing attack driven by a deep stable of effective runners, including quarterback Nick Marshall. Only once this season have the Tigers been held under 200 yards rushing, and they've more than doubled their total rushing yardage from last season.
Alabama's defense is allowing just three yards per carry; only four opponents have cracked 100 yards on the ground, and none have gone over 200. If the Crimson Tide manage to limit Auburn here, forcing Marshall to throw the ball more often, the Tigers' odds grow longer. And Auburn's odds are pretty long already.
Rankings and records: Alabama is 11-0 (7-0) and No. 1 in the major polls and the BCS standings. Auburn comes in at 10-1 (6-1), ranked No. 4 in the BCS, No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 5 in the Coaches' Poll. The Crimson Tide lead the all-time series, 42-34-1.
Vegas: Alabama opened as a 9.5-point favorite.
Weather: A high in the upper 50s is expected in Auburn. There is no rain in the forecast.
Three names to know
A.J. McCarron -- McCarron is a finalist for several college football awards, and he has a good shot at becoming a Heisman finalist as well. He's completing 68.6 percent of his throws while averaging 8.7 yards per attempt, and he has 23 touchdown throws against five interceptions.
Tre Mason -- Four Auburn players have at least 500 yards on the ground this season; Mason leads the bunch with 1,153. He also has 17 rushing touchdowns, easily tops in the SEC.
T.J. Yeldon -- Yeldon is averaging more than six yards per carry this season, and if he were averaging more than 16.4 carries per game, he might be posting some really incredible numbers. Still, he's over the 1,000-yard mark on the season, and he has 12 rushing TDs.
Two things at stake
To the victor goes the SEC West. Alabama is locked into the BCS National Championship game as long as it wins out. Auburn has ground to make up in that regard, but a victory over the Crimson Tide coupled with a win in the SEC title game could end up vaulting the Tigers into the top two of the BCS standings.
Is it somehow possible for these two teams to meet again in the BCS title game? It is incredibly unlikely,but if pure chaos happens to follow an Auburn victory ...
How to witness
TV: CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson)
Radio: Alabama's affiliates are listed here. Auburn's are here.
Online streaming: CBS SEC Live