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Countdown to Auburn at Alabama: questions answered Week 1?

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Will any Iron Bowl ever live up to the 2013 edition? (USATSI)
Will any Iron Bowl ever live up to the 2013 edition? (USATSI)

The 79th Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama will be played in Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium Nov. 29. Alabama leads the all-time series 42-35-1, with the teams splitting the last 24 meetings exactly 12-12. As the two programs progress toward Rivalry Week, we'll take a look each Wednesday at current trends -- and the current state of hostilities -- between the Tigers and Tide.

Days until game: 95

2014 Auburn-Alabama power index: 1. Alabama 2. Auburn.

Auburn this week: vs. Arkansas (+19), Saturday, 3 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

Alabama this week: vs. West Virginia (+26) in Atlanta, Saturday, 2:30 p.m. (ABC/ESPN2)

Auburn storyline: After one of the most unexpected, most thrilling seasons in college football history, what do Gus Malzahn's Tigers do for an encore? Probably score a bucketload of points, thanks to Nick Marshall's purportedly improved accuracy, a receiving corps bolstered by the arrival of five-star JUCO Duke Williams, a veteran offensive line, and a well-stocked running back committee. But with Bret Bielema's clock-churning ground game coming to town, the Tiger defense won't have to wait long for its first chance to prove it's improved enough to keep Auburn in the national title conversation.

Alabama storyline: There's too much attention paid to Alabama's quarterback situation when the Tide have what's very likely the SEC's best defense, just as likely its best set of receivers, quite possibly its best running backs, and the usual overflowing trough of blue-chip recruits ready to plug whatever holes might open up. But because the quarterback might be the one thing holding the Tide back from a playoff berth and national title, that's the storyline anyway: can Blake Sims really continue to hold off Jacob Coker and grab the starting role, and can either one make enough plays against the heavy-hitters on the Tide schedule? We start finding out against the Mountaineers.

Moment in Hatestory: November 30, 1985.

In deference to Alabama fans who are no doubt sick to crimson tears of seeing the conclusion of last year's unprecedented epic, we'll start with a classic in which a long-distance time-expiring Tide field goal that proved just a bit more successful than 2013.

Pat Dye's Auburn team were the favorites, ranked No. 7 in the country after rising as high as No. 1 early in the season, but Ray Perkins' unranked Alabama led 16-10 going into what would would prove to be one of the wildest fourth quarters in the series history. Four lead changes later, Alabama had the ball on the Auburn 36 with six seconds remaining and sent on kicker Van Tiffin to try from 52 yards:

Though Alabama's had no great shortage of victories over Auburn -- even memorable ones -- over the past 35 years or so, there's little-to-no doubt about which one has proven the most iconic ... or which one Alabama fans have taken the most glee in reliving in the company of their Auburn counterparts.

This week in hate Tweets:

MORE RIVALRIES: Florida-FSU | Michigan-Ohio State | Notre Dame-USC

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