Photo credit to razorgator.com
Thanksgiving weekend is known in the college football world for some of the most mind-blowing games to happen all season. Auburn's devastating upset against Alabama in the Iron Bowl was immediately shot to the top of historic endings. Chris Davis' 109 yard run back after a missed field goal is already in consideration for being one of the greatest endings in a college football game ever.
On paper it may seem as though Alabama should have came out with the victory. AJ McCarron threw for 277 yds, 180 more yds than Auburn QB Nick Marshall, also contributing 3 TD passes to Marshalls 2. Overall, Alabama had 102 more total yds than Auburn, but the domination in the rushing game from the Tigers was the equalizer. Marshall and running back, Tre Mason were the leading rushers for Auburn, Marshall with 99yds and Mason with 164. The only other team to rush for over 200 yds on Alabama in the past 10 years, believe it or not, was Minnesota back in 2004 in the Music City Bowl. The Crimson Tide's, "Pro Defense," had been dominating opponents all year up until the high-powered offense of Auburn came to town.
Although Alabama was the leader in total yds for the game, Auburn was the leader in the 1st and 3rd down categories, along with committing less penalties as a team. By far the biggest statistic however, was the difference in special teams yds. In what was the most improbable play of the game, and possibly the college football season, Chris Davis ran back a missed field goal 109 yds for the win. Seeing as an end zone is only 10 yds deep, Davis won the game with the longest return possible.
"I knew when I caught the ball I would have room to run," said Davis in a post-game interview. "I knew they would have big guys out there to protect on the field goal. When I looked back, I said, ‘I can't believe this.' "
Adam Griffith, who has struggled lately kicked the missed field goal, had a field goal attempt blocked earlier in the game. The special teams squad for Auburn made the difference in this game.
Many people questioned Coach Nick Saban's decision to attempt a field goal with the last second of the game instead of sending the contest into overtime. A 57-yard field goal is a feat for any NFL kicker, let alone a college kicker. According to Coach Saban, Griffith makes 60-yard field goals in practice so it seemed worth a shot. In the post game interview, even Coach Saban seemed shocked.
"It looked like we didn't have anybody out on the right side, everybody is supposed to fan the field," said Coach Saban. "It's the first time I've ever lost a game that way, the first time I've ever seen a game lost that way. The game shouldn't have ended that way."
No matter what the scoreboard read at the end of the game, Coach Saban still is well aware of how well his team played this year and is looking forward to playing another game.
"I still think we had one of the best teams in the country. I don't think we played our best game today," said Coach Saban. "The ultimate responsibility is mine, but I'm very very proud of this team. This team will get another opportunity to play another game and we're going to try to do it the right way."
The Tigers ended hopes for Alabama to continue their dynasty and paved the way to bring the trophy back to their side of Alabama. Chris Davis is confident that they can achieve just that.
"We're a team of destiny," said Davis. "We won't take no for an answer."