So you’re planning to watch Auburn and Alabama play football on television Saturday.
And so you should. The Iron Bowl is probably the most heated rivalry in college football, and this year the winner gets to play Georgia for the SEC championship and a berth in the four-team college football playoff to determine the national champion.
Let’s say you don’t have ties to either team. Who should you be pulling for?
If you’re a Georgia fan, you’ve got an especially tough dilemma. In light of Auburn’s throttling of the Bulldogs a couple of weeks ago, do you want to try to exact revenge against the Tigers, or do you think you’ve got a better chance to beat Alabama?
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Choose the latter option and you’ve in essence uttered those three words that no fan anywhere should ever utter:
We. Want. Bama.
I’ll let you figure that one out. Personally, after watching Gus Malzahn challenge a Bulldog first down late in a blowout, I’d want to see him and his Tigers again. Karma is a you-know-what.
But let’s say you don’t have a dog in the fight. Are you going with the Tigers or the Tide?
For starters, you could pick the team with the mascot you like best. My daughter has used this approach during March Madness, with great success. (Tar Heels? How interesting!)
So do you go with a Tiger that gains inspiration from seeing a War Eagle circle overhead? Or do you follow the Crimson Tide, which may or may not have something to do with elephants?
My pick here would be the team that brings a real animal to the game. If Bama had an actual elephant, it would be the Tide hands down. Instead, I’m going with Spirit, the golden eagle that’s filling in for the ailing Nova this season.
Or you could take the underdog approach. When we humans watch a game in which we have no vested interest, it’s our nature to ask who’s favored and then to root for the other guys.
Last I checked, Auburn is a 4-point underdog. And from a historical standpoint, the Tigers have won two national championships, while the Tide has won between 11 and 327, depending on which polls you recognize. (The University of Alabama sets the official number at 16.)
So Auburn gets the underdog vote, too.
But you could take an entirely different approach: the best coach approach.
On one sideline, you’ve got a mad scientist who last beat Alabama with a former Georgia cornerback playing quarterback and, oh yeah, a touchdown on a missed field goal with no time remaining.
On the other, you’ve got a guy who trusts the process and only smiles when confetti is falling from the rafters.
OK, it’s easier to trust the process when you’ve got the world’s best players. But if you’re using this approach, you’ve got to go with Nick Saban.
Or you could take the college visit approach, which I know about because I’ve toured each campus with one of my children.
At Auburn, our tour guide said his best moment was playing Madden on the giant video screen in Jordan-Hare stadium. At Alabama, our tour guide said her best moment was taking her favorite professor to lunch and getting reimbursed through a special university program. I’m going with Bama on this one.
So we’re tied 2-2.
Here’s the tiebreaker: Think of fans you know from each team. Who would you most want to see lose?
I’ll leave that one for you to decide.
Happy rivalry Saturday!