The 2013 Iron Bowl can be summed up with one play – Nick Saban needlessly sending Adam Griffith to kick a 57 yard field goal. He missed, Chris Davis catches it, returning it 109 yards for the touchdown and the 35-28 Auburn win, making a huge difference in the SEC, BCS and national championship picture just as time expires. But a game like this is much bigger than just one play or sentence.
Alabama had everything going for it heading into this game, with the confidence of hardly being tested by anyone this season except for Texas A&M. It turns out that Auburn with their one loss weren’t just hiding under the radar all season, waiting to be thumped by their biggest sister. They were simply biding their time, ready to make a huge statement, one that could end with the national title game.
Time for calculations, campaigning and arguments will be left for later, after the SEC championship game. Until it comes, it’s a good opportunity for the Tigers, who have been through some hard times since winning the national championship after the 2010 season. From allegations of Cam Newton being a bough player to the trials of the ending in Chizik’s term. Gus Malzahn didn’t need a very long time to change everything once again, with Auburn going 11-1 as they head to face Missouri for the conference title in the most unpredictable conference championship duo the SEC could have conjured.
A.J. McCarron was his efficient self, throwing three touchdown passes on 17-of-29. T.J. Yeldon was once again difficult to stop, rushing for 141 yards on 26 carries, scoring a touchdown. Where did it go wrong for the Crimson Tide?
It began with their defense, unable to really hold down Auburn or force more than one turnover. Quarterback Nick Marshall had a big day with two touchdown passes on 11-of-16 passing, but he also ran for 99 yards and a touchdown, aiding Tre Mason, with 164 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown, in the running game that moves the chains quite well for Auburn, gaining 296 yards on the ground.
Nick Saban’s kickers let him down, plain and simple. The death threats to Cade Foster that came after the game are disgusting, but there’s no doubt the young man disappointed. Alabama missed four field goals during the game before Griffith’s very long and tragic miss – Foster missed from 33, 44 and 44 yards, the most field goals missed by an FBS team this season. Alabama are also the first team to attempt at least four field goal in a game without making one since Connecticut did it in a loss to Temple last season. They entered the game with a 5-of-6 record on kicks for over 40 yards, so maybe Saban knew what he was doing.
One loss, and everything ends. The talk of the Dynasty, of a three-peat, of everything that was there for the taking and Alabama blew it all. Auburn, rising quite quickly from the mess left by Chizik’s final year, are now at the mercy of the BCS roulette table, but they have to get past Missouri first, hoping their luck hasn’t run out with Chris Davis’ historic touchdown run.