I hate Auburn University with every living fiber of my being. I hate head coach Gus Malzhan, I hate quarterback junior Nick Marshall and I hate everything about that “cow college” – as former head coach for the University of Alabama Paul “Bear” Bryant so eloquently put it many years ago. Needless to say, I am an Alabama fan, even a previous student. Roll tide. That being said, the 2013 Iron Bowl was the greatest football game I have ever seen.
Auburn is coming off a season where it was the laughing stock of the Southeastern Conference. That season ended with a 49-0 loss to Alabama, a game I attended. There were supposed to be dark days ahead for the Tigers.
Then came Malzhan.
Malzhan was the offensive coordinator when quarterback Cam – also known as “Scam” – Newton was at Auburn. In Newton’s only season with the Tigers, they won the Bowl Championship Series National Championship over the University of Oregon. Still, no one was expecting Malzhan to win many big games in 2013.
But then Auburn started winning those big games. The only blemish on the Tigers’ record was a loss at Louisiana State University.
That almost changed against rival University of Georgia – almost.
With just half a minute to go, down 38-37 at home, fourth-and-18 from the team’s own 27-yard line, Marshall threw up a prayer of a pass that deflected off two Georgia defenders – into the outstretched hands of wide receiver sophomore Ricardo Louis. The Tigers won 43-38 in what was dubbed “The Prayer at Jordan-Hare.”
It was a one-in-a-million play.
Still, Auburn was a big home underdog to two-time defending National Champions Alabama. Not only is Alabama the winner of the past two titles, it has won three out of the last four. The year Alabama didn’t win it, the title went to – you guessed it – Auburn.
The Iron Bowl game was a thriller the whole way. The Tigers hung on throughout the game, tying it at 28-28 with just 39 seconds left on the clock.
Alabama was not about to concede into overtime. Running back sophomore T.J. Yeldon put the Tide in a position to attempt a 57-yard field goal to win with just a second left. Head coach Nick Saban sent out redshirt kicker freshman Adam Griffith to attempt the mammoth kick – after three failed attempts earlier in the game by kicker senior Cade Foster.
It fell short.
It fell into senior Chris Davis’ hands nine yards deep in the end zone.
No one touched Davis for 109 yards. He scored. Alabama 28, Auburn 34. Final.
It was a one-in-a-million play. Again.
The win gives Auburn a chance to extend its season even further. The Tigers will play the University of Missouri on Saturday Dec. 7 in the SEC Championship. From there, the winner could go on to play in the BCS National Championship, pending the results of a few other games.
If Auburn wins the National Championship, it would truly be defying odds. If you put $10 on the Tigers to win the championship last January, you would stand to make $2,000.
I hope Auburn loses to Missouri by 50. I hope Marshall’s former teammates at Georgia press charges against him for stealing their money. I tip my cap, however, to a great comeback season. I tip my crimson-and-white cap to the Tigers for grasping victory from the tightly clenched jaws of defeat – twice.
Congrats on the victory, Auburn. The Tide will see you next year.