Ingram: More at stake than playing spoiler

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The 75th Iron Bowl has a familiar feel as a year ago.

The only difference is that the roles are reversed.

This time, it’s Alabama trying to ruin Auburn’s parade. Last season, it was the other way around, and the Tigers nearly did it after jumping out to a 14-0 lead and then forcing the Crimson Tide to drive the length of the field in the final minutes for the game-winning touchdown to keep alive their national championship hopes.

Auburn’s unbeaten season and national championship aspirations go through Bryant-Denny Stadium on Friday, and nobody needs to tell the Alabama players what’s going through the minds of the Auburn players right now.

“Everybody knows where they stand,” Alabama junior running back Mark Ingram said. “Anybody who was on our team last year knows how they feel. But at the same time, we’re not focused on how they feel. We’re not focused on what they have to do. We’re focused on us.

“We can’t be worried about them. They’re a great team and definitely talented, but we have to worry about ourselves.”

Ingram has cringed this week any time he’s heard somebody say that Alabama has a chance to play spoiler.

He doesn’t look at it that way, and neither do his teammates.

He said this game is more about Alabama and what it could do for the Crimson Tide’s season as opposed to how it could derail the Tigers’ season.

“We still have a lot to play for,” said Ingram, who along with the rest of that star-studded 2008 signing class -- including Julio Jones, Mark Barron, Barrett Jones, Marcell Dareus and Dont’a Hightower -- has yet to lose to Auburn.

“We lost two games earlier this year, and everything hasn’t gone the way we planned from the jump. But we can still have a great season, go to a great bowl game and finish 11-2. Everybody is looking at it like 11-2 is a bad year. But a lot of teams would be skipping around and happy at 11-2. That just shows you the type of standards we have in this program.

“We pride ourselves on winning around here and doing what it takes to be winners. That’s not going to change just because we have two losses.”