Alabama's Barrett Jones summed up the Iron Bowl's significance hours before it got really meaningful nationally.
"It's the West, it's all our hopes and dreams, and also, it's Auburn," the Crimson Tide center said after Saturday's early game.
Then it got even bigger. For the fifth straight year, the Iron Bowl features a team squarely in the national title hunt. No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) almost certainly controls its own fate.
A victory over the Tigers (3-8, 0-7) would put the Tide into the Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 3 Georgia with the winner presumably playing in Miami for the BCS title. All the pieces fell into place hours after Bama's 49-0 victory over struggling FCS team Western Carolina.
Saturday night losses by Oregon and Kansas State ended Alabama's weeklong position on the outside looking in at the BCS chase after a loss to No. 9 Texas A&M. The twin defeats touched off the kind...