Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has an outstanding record in home games when the Tigers are ranked.

Why the numbers suggest history might be on Auburn’s side in the Iron Bowl

AUBURN, Ala. — If numbers truly never lie, Auburn football fans will be proclaiming their truth heading into the Iron Bowl this Saturday.

On paper, Alabama is the rightful favorite for this matchup against Auburn (3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT on CBS). The Crimson Tide haven’t lost a regular season game since early in the 2015 season, and they’re built on a long string of No. 1 recruiting classes under Nick Saban.

However, history suggests this year’s Iron Bowl favors the Tigers in several key areas — especially since Saban took over the Crimson Tide. Here are five numbers to know for this matchup between the Tigers and the Tide.

MORE: Taking down Tide could hinge on this key ingredient for Auburn

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Alabama coach Nick Saban (left) and his Auburn counterpart Gus Malzahn (right) meet Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Nick Saban’s winless mark against strong Auburn teams

Alabama coach Nick Saban will go down in history as arguably the greatest college football coach of all-time. However, Saban has never beaten an Auburn team that finished a season with at least nine wins, dating back to his time as LSU’s head coach.

  • 2000: Auburn 34, LSU 17 (Auburn finishes 9-4)
  • 2001: LSU 27, Auburn 14 (Auburn finishes 7-5)
  • 2002: Auburn 31, LSU 7 (Auburn finishes 9-4)
  • 2003: LSU 31, Auburn 7 (Auburn finishes 8-5)
  • 2004: Auburn 10, LSU 9 (Auburn finishes 13-0)
  • 2007: Auburn 17, Alabama 10 (Auburn finishes 9-4)
  • 2008: Alabama 36, Auburn 0 (Auburn finishes 5-7)
  • 2009: Alabama 26, Auburn 21 (Auburn finishes 8-5)
  • 2010: Auburn 28, Alabama 27 (Auburn finishes 14-0)
  • 2011: Alabama 42, Auburn 14 (Auburn finishes 8-5)
  • 2012: Alabama 49, Auburn 0 (Auburn finishes 3-9)
  • 2013: Auburn 34, Alabama 28 (Auburn finishes 12-2)
  • 2014: Alabama 55, Auburn 44 (Auburn finishes 8-5)
  • 2015: Alabama 29, Auburn 13 (Auburn finishes 7-6)
  • 2016: Alabama 30, Auburn 12 (Auburn finishes 8-5)

Auburn is 9-2. Another positive for Auburn: All but one of those six wins over Saban — 2010 — came inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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When Gus Malzahn is in Jordan-Hare Stadium with a ranked team, the Tigers usually come out on top. (Sarah Lundgren/SEC Country)

Ranked Auburn teams at home under Gus Malzahn

Speaking of Jordan-Hare Stadium, when Auburn has been ranked and playing at home under Gus Malzahn, it has usually meant good things on the scoreboard for the Tigers.

Auburn is 19-1 in home games under Malzahn when it is ranked in the Associated Press poll. The only loss came in 2014, where a late fumble cost the then-No. 3 Tigers in an upset loss to Texas A&M.

  • 2013: No. 11 Auburn 45, Florida Atlantic 10
  • 2013: No. 7 Auburn 43, No. 25 Georgia 38
  • 2013: No. 4 Auburn 34, No. 1 Alabama 28
  • 2014: No. 6 Auburn 45, Arkansas 21
  • 2014: No. 5 Auburn 59, San Jose State 13
  • 2014: No. 5 Auburn 45, Louisiana Tech 17
  • 2014: No. 5 Auburn 41, No. 15 LSU 7
  • 2014: No. 5 Auburn 42, South Carolina 35
  • 2014: Texas A&M 41, No. 3 Auburn 38
  • 2014: No. 15 Auburn 31, Samford 7
  • 2015: No. 6 Auburn 27, Jacksonville State 20 (OT)
  • 2016: No. 21 Auburn 56, No. 17 Arkansas 3
  • 2016: No. 11 Auburn 23, Vanderbilt 16
  • 2016: No. 18 Auburn 55, Alabama A&M 0
  • 2017: No. 12 Auburn 41, Georgia Southern 7
  • 2017: No. 15 Auburn 24, Mercer 10
  • 2017: No. 13 Auburn 49, No. 24 Mississippi State 10
  • 2017: No. 12 Auburn 44, Ole Miss 23
  • 2017: No. 10 Auburn 40, No. 2 Georgia 17
  • 2017: No. 6 Auburn 42, ULM 14

Auburn is No. 6 in the AP poll heading into the Iron Bowl. Since the 2013 Iron Bowl, Auburn has won its last four ranked vs. ranked meetings in Jordan-Hare Stadium by a combined 149 points.

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Chris Davis made the game-winning play in Auburn’s last Top 10 meeting against Alabama. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Auburn’s record in Top 10 Iron Bowls

Saturday will mark the eighth Iron Bowl in which both Auburn and Alabama are ranked in the AP Top 10. Auburn has won more of those games than Alabama, sporting a 4-3 record in these colossal Iron Bowls.

  • 1963: No. 9 Auburn 10, No. 6 Alabama 8
  • 1971: No. 3 Alabama 31, No. 5 Auburn 7
  • 1972: No. 9 Auburn 17, No. 2 Alabama 16
  • 1974: No. 2 Alabama 17, No. 7 Auburn 13
  • 1994: No. 4 Alabama 21, No. 6 Auburn 14
  • 2010: No. 2 Auburn 28, No. 9 Alabama 27
  • 2013: No. 4 Auburn 34, No. 1 Alabama 28

Auburn fans might recognize the most recent three wins as three of the most famous victories in program history — the 1972 “Punt, Bama, Punt” game, the 2010 “Cam-back” game, and the 2013 “Kick Six” game.

Additionally, Auburn has a winning record in Top 10 matchups of any kind, going 21-17-2 in those contests with a 8-7-1 mark at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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Auburn has had a dynamic and balanced offense in 2017. (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)

High-powered Auburn offenses spell trouble

Since the end of Saban’s first season at Alabama, Auburn is 2-7 against the Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl, and there have been a few ugly losses in there.

But when Auburn is truly rolling on offense, it’s been able to cause a lot of headaches for Saban’s elite defenses. When the Tigers have a Top 25 offense in terms of yards per play, they’ve beaten Alabama twice and played their two closest losses. Without one, they’re on the wrong end of a bad loss.

  • 2008: Alabama 36, Auburn 0 (Auburn ranked 111th in yards per play)
  • 2009: Alabama 26, Auburn 21 (Auburn ranks 25th in yards per play)
  • 2010: Auburn 28, Alabama 27 (Auburn ranks 3rd in yards per play)
  • 2011: Alabama 42, Auburn 14 (Auburn ranks 75th in yards per play)
  • 2012: Alabama 49, Auburn 0 (Auburn ranks 90th in yards per play)
  • 2013: Auburn 34, Alabama 28 (Auburn ranks 8th in yards per play)
  • 2014: Alabama 55, Auburn 44 (Auburn ranks 10th in yards per play)
  • 2015: Alabama 29, Auburn 13 (Auburn ranks 88th in yards per play)
  • 2016: Alabama 30, Auburn 12 (Auburn ranks 37th in yards per play)

A lot of that has to do with healthy and consistent quarterback play, which Auburn has this season in Jarrett Stidham. By the way, the Tigers currently rank 20th nationally in yards per play with 6.58 per snap.

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Auburn has a winning record when College GameDay is in town. (Mike Strobe/Getty Images)

GameDay on the Plains is a good thing

Saturday will also mark the ninth time ESPN’s College GameDay has been to Auburn. The Tigers are 5-3 when the traveling pregame show is in town, just outside of Jordan-Hare Stadium.

  • November 18, 1995: Auburn 31, Alabama 27
  • October 18, 1997: Florida 24, Auburn 10
  • November 13, 2004: Auburn 24, Georgia 6
  • October 14, 2006: Auburn 27, Florida 17
  • September 20, 2008: LSU 26, Auburn 21
  • September 18, 2010: Auburn 27, Clemson 24 (OT)
  • November 26, 2011: Alabama 42, Auburn 14
  • November 30, 2013: Auburn 34, Alabama 28
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Auburn is undefeated this season when certain foods are around after Gus Malzahn’s Tuesday press conference. (Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country)

Food for thought

Now, all of those above numbers don’t directly correlate to the 2017 season. Some doubters out there will say none of it has anything to do with how the Tigers will tangle with the Tide this season.

In that case, let’s look at a specific stat for Auburn’s 2017 season.

Each week, after Gus Malzahn’s Tuesday press conference, Auburn provides a meal for the media members in attendance. By the middle of the season, I noticed a pattern with Auburn’s performance and the food choice made days earlier.

  • Chick-fil-A: 6-0
  • Dominos: 3-0
  • Newk’s: 0-2

Auburn hasn’t lost when it’s had Chick-fil-A or Dominos for its media members earlier in the week, and it’s winless with Newk’s.

On Tuesday, Auburn provided Dominos. Numbers never lie. Adjust your bets accordingly.