Going into the weekend, some pundits were billing this year’s Alabama-Auburn game as “the Iron Bowl to end all Iron Bowls.” Number 1 versus Number 4. Could it live up to the hype?
Words are difficult to describe what happened. but we’ll give it our best shot.
After blocking a 44-yard field goal attempt that would have given Alabama a lead 31-21 with 3:06 left in the game, Auburn was content to hand the ball off to running back Tre Mason. Again. Again. And again. The drive log looked something like this:
- 1st-10, AUB35 2:41 T. Mason rushed up the middle for 8 yard gain
- 2nd-2, AUB43 2:32 T. Mason rushed up the middle for no gain
- 3rd-2, AUB43 2:12 Alabama timeout
- 3rd-2, AUB43 1:43 T. Mason rushed up the middle for 4 yard gain
- 1st-10, AUB47 1:43 T. Mason rushed to the left for 5 yard gain
- 2nd-5, ALA48 1:39 T. Mason rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
- 3rd-2, ALA45 1:11 T. Mason rushed up the middle for 6 yard gain
Consequently, on 1st and 10 on the Alabama 39, the entire defense was expecting a read option play to Tre Mason.
And that’s exactly what Gus Malzahn was counting on.
Instead, Nick Marshall faked the read to Mason, and rolled to his left, hitting a wide-open Sammie Coates for a 39 yard touchdown.
Tie game, 28-28.
But there were still 32 seconds left on the clock, more than enough time for Alabama and their Heisman-hopeful quarterback AJ McCarron to engineer a game-winning drive. Alabama moved the ball down the field, all the way to the Auburn 38 yard line, but TJ Yeldon did not step out of bounds with time left on the clock. To overtime we go.
But hold everything.
After reviewing the play, the officials determined that there was one second left on the clock. It was enough to remind certain individuals of the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game.
Thanks, SEC refs for giving me bad dreams, flashbacks and no escape from alcoholism. YOU SUCK
— CornNation (@CornNation) December 1, 2013
It was the correct call, and it gave Alabama one last chance to win the game before heading into overtime. Cade Foster had already missed three field goals on the day, so Saban sent out redshirt freshman Adam Griffith to attempt a 58 yard field goal. Even though a 38 yard completion by his All-American senior quarterback seemed much more likely to succeed, Saban still opted with the redshirt freshman.
What happened next will live in Auburn lore forever.
The snap was good. The hold was good, but the kick was just short. And then this:
109 yards. Auburn cornerback Chris Davis returned the missed field goal for 109 yards. Touchdown Auburn. Game Auburn. Iron Bowl Auburn. Alabama’s hopes for a third consecutive national championship are all but over.
The king is dead. Long live the king.
The Auburn radio crew exploded from glee
This. This is why we love college football. Granted, the product may not be as polished as the NFL, but it’s exactly the amateur nature of the game that we revel in. The excitement, the drama, the passion. Sure, this is said of nearly every sport, but college football delivers at a level unparalleled to others. Every week is a playoff. If the Broncos beat the Patriots in Week 14, who cares? It would only affect playoff seeding; it wouldn’t necessarily knock either team out of the playoff picture in its entirety. But that’s exactly what occurs every weekend in college football. And unlike at the professional level, these teams will never move, never relocate. The Gators played in the Swamp long before we were born, and they will continue to play there long after we have left this earth.
With the loss, Florida State becomes the new #1, and Ohio State, who for the entire season was on the outside looking in, moves to #2. Although Ohio State survived a scare against arch-rival Michigan, they are this week’s big winners.
Winners – Ohio State. Northern Illinois, Duke, Southern Miss
Losers – Alabama, Fresno State, Wisconsin
With Fresno State’s loss to San Jose State and their own victory over Western Michigan, Northern Illinois is in prime position to capture an at-large BCS spot. Wisconsin’s 31 – 24 loss to Penn State effectively eliminates them from a BCS Bowl. Duke (Duke!) defeated North Carolina 27 – 25, giving the program its first 10 win season in school history and a spot in the ACC Championship Game, where they will play Florida State.
And congrats to Southern Miss, who, in defeating UAB 62 – 27 avoided a second 0-12 year and ended their 23 game losing streak.
Top 25 Upsets
- #4 Auburn over #1 Alabama, 34 – 28.
- #10 South Carolina over #6 Clemson, 31 – 17.
- Penn State over #15 Wisconsin, 31 – 24.
- San Jose State over #16 Fresno State, 62 – 52.
A Look Ahead
The regular season is over for most of college football’s teams. As such, it’s championship weekend.
- ACC: #1 Florida State vs. #20 Duke
- B1G: #2 Ohio State vs. #10 Michigan State
- Pac-12: #7 Stanford vs. #11 Arizona State
- SEC: #3 Auburn vs. # Mizzou