The former Auburn All-American defensive tackle says this year’s edition of the Alabama-Auburn game stands apart from the other 77 meetings.
“This may be the most hyped Iron Bowl I’ve seen. I can’t remember one like this,” Campbell said.
There’s good reason for the hype. For the first time in Iron Bowl history, the SEC West title and a trip to the SEC championship Game is on the line.
That’s not all. Alabama’s shot at a BCS three-peat as well as Auburn’s chance of getting into championship consideration hang in the balance.
“I think this is the most that’s been riding on the game, as far as the national picture,,” former Alabama receiver Chad Key said. “If this isn’t the most hyped Iron Bowl, it’s one of the top ones. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
While top-ranked Alabama has put together another championship contender under Nick Saban in 2013, Auburn has enjoyed an unbelieveable turnaround season, winning 10 games after going an abysmal 3-9 in coach Gene Chizik’s final season last year.
Head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff have Auburn ranked fourth in the nation heading to today’s game.
“It’s been a great season. To me, it’s been a healing for Auburn fans. Everything was terrible last year. If I could, I would crown Malzahn as king of Auburn from now on,” Campbell said. “If you would have told us Auburn fans that before the season started that we would be 10-1, we wouldn’t have believed it. If you told us that Alabama would be 11-0, we would have believed that. I think it’s great for the state of Alabama.”
Alabama is a 10 1/2-point favorite in the game and has won the last two Iron Bowls by a combined score of 91-14.
The Tide won last year’s game 49-0 and was up 42-0 at the half.
“I’m enjoying it more this year just because this time last year, there was hardly any excitement. Last year wasn’t fun for anybody,” Key said. “I’m just glad both teams are doing well. My only regret is I won’t be playing in it. That’s the only way it could be better.”
Key played on Alabama’s 1992 national championship team. During his playing days, Alabama and Auburn split four games, winning twice at Legion Field and losing a pair of nail-biters at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“We ended up coming up short both times at Auburn,” Key said. “The best teams doesn’t always win. It comes down to which team plays the best and executes. “
During his time at Auburn, Campbell was on the 1969 team that defeated Alabama 49-26. It was his only win against the Tide.
“I’m 65 years old and to this day it would be a thorn in my flesh if I hadn’t beaten Alabama. I’m being truthful. If somebody asked me if I had to pick one game I enjoyed the most while I was at Auburn — no question — it would be the Alabama game,” Campbell said.
“I hope it’s a close game. I’m looking forward to it,” Campbell said. “Alabama looks like they should win the game, but looking at it from a coaching standpoint, I think Alabama will face something they haven’t faced before.”
“When it comes to predictions, it’s hard to put a finger on what’s going to happen. You’ve obviously got two great coaching staffs that are great at making adjustments during the game. I think the only difference is that a lot of the kids at Alabama are used to winning. Alabama’s been up there for four or five years now. They are used to playing and winning big games,” Key said. “I know on paper that Alabama is the better team, but anything can happen.”
Martin Glover, who played for Alabama during the late 1990s, likes Alabama’s chances in today’s Iron Bowl.
“I think if Auburn scores early, they will stay in the game, but if they don’t — Katy bar the door. I think Malzahn will do something to keep Auburn in the game,” Glover said.
“I’m excited. This is a game I’ve been looking forward to.”