One of the most bitter rivalries in the country, the annual Iron Bowl, pits Alabama against Auburn in a battle that decides who has bragging rights in the state for the next offseason or even longer. Both teams have had great winning traditions over the years as the first meeting between these two squads took place in 1893 when Auburn beat Alabama, 32-22.
Since then, Alabama has lead the series, 42-34-1, against Auburn. The past few years haven't slowed down the rivalry at all. In 2000-2007, Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville led his Tigers to 6 out of 7 wins against the Tide, which ended in former Alabama coach Mike Shula getting fired and replaced by current head coach Nick Saban.
Saban had previously coached at LSU, winning a BCS Title. He turned the "tide" in the rivalry by beating Auburn 3 out of 5 times and winning 3 BCS Championships. The Toomer's oak poisoning has further increased the hate between these two programs. Saban has had his way with Auburn (except for the Cam Newton one-and-done) which ultimately led to the firing of head coach Gene Chizik this offseason. In the state of Alabama, this annual rivalry is one of the biggest events of the year.
2. Georgia vs. Florida
The "World's Largest Cocktail Party" is one of the best rivalries in college football. Played every year in a neutral field in Jacksonville, FL, it feels like a bowl game and is certainly the most important game of the year for these two squads. Georgia leads the series, 49-40-2, over the Gators.
The Gators have certainly shifted the state of the rivalry in their favor over the last few decades under Steve Spurrier in the '90s and Urban Meyer in the 2000s. Since 1990, Florida has won 18 out of 23 games while Georgia has won only 3.
With Urban Meyer's departure to Ohio State, the Bulldogs have experienced more success against Head Coach Will Muschamp and his Gators, winning two straight games in Jacksonville.
Muschamp attended the University of Georgia and lettered on the football squad. He certainly appears to hate Georgia now as he promised this offseason that Georgia's streak would be a short one.
3. Alabama vs. Tennessee
This is a truly great rivalry game between the SEC's top 2 winningest programs. Alabama leads the rivalry, 49-38-7, against the Vols. This game has featured greats such as Paul "Bear" Bryant, Peyton Manning, Arian Foster, Shawn Alexander, and, of course, Nick Saban.
The Crimson Tide won 11 straight games against the Big Orange from 1971-1981. The Tennessee Volunteers won 7 against 'Bama from 1995-2001. Nick Saban and Alabama have had great success with the Vols, recently winning 6 straight.
4. Auburn vs. Georgia
This is one of the closest of the SEC's great rivalries as the Georgia-Auburn series is tied at 54 wins and 8 ties. The "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" began in 1892 when Auburn beat Georgia by a score of 10-0 in Atlanta, GA.
The Bulldogs won 9 straight from 1923-1931, but the Tigers won 6 straight from 1953-1958. Georgia and Auburn certainly hate each other, and this became even more clear in the recent cheap shots on UGA QB Aaron Murray that Nick Fairley pulled in 2010.
Even so, Georgia has had the most recent success in this rivalry as they have won 6 out of the last 7 games.
5. Alabama vs. LSU
This SEC rivalry is certainly one of the best in recent seasons. Although Alabama leads the overall series, 47-25-5, this is certainly a lot closer than some would expect in the past years. LSU and Alabama are perennial national powerhouses, and in previous years this game has decided who will reach Atlanta. The Tide won 11 games from 1971-1981 while LSU won 5 straight from 2003 through 2007. The recent thorn in the Tiger's flesh has been Nick Saban.
Saban was the head coach in Baton Rouge, LA, from 2000-2004 and won a BCS Title in 2003. Saban then tried his luck in the NFL ranks but had a mediocre coaching career. In 2007, Saban came back to the SEC as he was hired at Alabama.
He has certainly done an exceptional job at Alabama, winning 3 BCS Titles. He put them back on track against LSU. In 2011, LSU beat Alabama, 9-6, in overtime. The Tigers went undefeated and won the SEC title to advance to the BCS Championship Game.
There was one problem. The Alabama Crimson Tide had only one loss that season and was the #2 team in the country. Saban wasn't about to let Les Miles get the best of him a second time and dominated the Tigers, 21-0, in the National Championship in New Orleans. Last season, Alabama QB A.J. McCarron led the Tide to a 21-17 victory by leading a game-winning-drive before time expired.