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Great state debate: Auburn or Alabama?

Crimson Tide and Tiger memorabilia has been out in full force this week as the Alabama and Auburn football teams prepare to battle for the 73rd meeting of the storied “Iron Bowl” rivalry.

This year’s game is an interesting dilemma for Auburn fans, who have seen their Tigers win six straight yet come into today’s game as a decided underdog. That didn’t stop Heather Currie from wearing an Auburn T-shirt as she shopped at Winn-Dixie in Andalusia Friday.

“I would like to hope that they can still win tomorrow,” said Currie, who is originally from Crestview, Fla., but recently moved to Alabama. “I said at the start of the year that I didn’t care if Auburn lost every game, but as long as we beat Alabama, then I would be happy. If we can manage to ruin Alabama’s undefeated season tomorrow, I think I might cry I’d be so happy.”

As of Friday, Las Vegas oddsmakers listed No. 1 Alabama (11-0) a 14.5-point favorite over unranked Auburn (5-6), but not all Crimson Tide fans believe a win will be that easy to accomplish.

“There’s not going to be a runaway,” said Kenneth Stallworth of Andalusia, an Alabama fan. “I think Alabama will win, but Auburn will play tough and keep it close. I’m thinking something like a 21-14 win.

“(Coach Nick) Saban’s going to have the guys ready to play. John Parker Wilson is a good quarterback and we’ve got some good running backs this year.”

Recent Iron Bowl history has been tough for Alabama fans, who have seen the Crimson Tide drop six straight to the Tigers in the in-state rivalry. But many fans believe that today’s game will be different and return Alabama back to the top of the heap in the state, and keep the team alive in its bid for a possible national championship.

“Alabama’s been down a couple of years, but I’d like to think they can win it this year,” said Bill Singleton of Alabama, who is a Crimson Tide fan because his son is an alumnus of the university.

“Alabama’s finally got it together this year,” said Brenda Worley of Andalusia. “Auburn’s a little down this year. I have a grandson who’s down at Alabama right now and so I’m hoping they can get a win.”

The traveling distance from Covington County to Tuscaloosa is a little more than 220 miles, but that wouldn’t stop some fans from making the trek if they were promised a free ticket to this year’s Iron Bowl.

“Absolutely I’d go,” said Tiffany Miller of Crestview, Fla., an Auburn fan. “I’d take a moped to Tuscaloosa if I could get a free ticket this year. Alabama’s never beaten us in Tuscaloosa before.”

As for Miller’s assessment of the Tigers’ chances today?

“We’re going to give them the smackdown,” she said.