Tigers specialize in miracle wins
Dec 01, 2013 | 1611 views | 0 0 comments | 65 65 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Johnathan Bentley
Johnathan Bentley
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Auburn coach Gus Malzahn didn’t want to admit it.

Following the Tigers last-second, miracle Iron Bowl victory, the first-year Auburn coach was asked if the game marked his biggest career win.

“Well, there is a lot of emotion right now. It’s a big win,” Malzahn said.

That’s when his wife, Kristi, chimed in — “Just say yes.”

How big was Auburn’s win on Saturday?

I’ve been going to Auburn games since 1987 and have never seen fans storm the field. Not even when they defeated No. 2 Alabama in 1989 in the first Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

It doesn’t happen. At least it didn’t until Saturday.

All it took was a last-second win over Alabama on a 109-yard return for a touchdown to finally break that streak.

Auburn needs to put an artist on retainer for the rest of the season because the Tigers have put together a pair of unforgettable wins against their biggest rivals.

I didn’t think Auburn could top the Miracle on the Plains (I personally like the Immaculate Deflection) victory over Georgia two weeks ago.

What are the odds of getting a long pass deflected off two defensive players resulting in a 73-yard, game-winning touchdown?

Not good.

I figure they are about the same as a team returning a missed field goal 109 yards for a score on the final play of the game.

Chris Davis played the role of Auburn’s hero on Saturday night.

After the final play of regulation, Alabama coach Nick Saban lobbied to get one second put back on the game clock. The clock originally ran out, seemingly sending the game to overtime. However, upon further review, Saban got his wish.

Rather than throwing a hail-mary on the final play, Alabama elected to attempt a 57-yard field goal.

The ball came up short and wide right, landing in the waiting arms of Davis.

For just a few seconds, Alabama’s players watched the football sail toward the goal post.

By the time Davis caught it, they were out of position and once he bolted past the first group of defenders, he was gone.

Auburn won 34-28.

Bedlam ensued.

The Tigers scored two touchdowns in the final 32 seconds.

Auburn tied the game when quarterback Nick Marshall connected with Sammie Coates on a 39-yard touchdown pass to make the score 28-28, setting up Davis’ heroics.

Alabama had its chances to put Auburn away. Had kicker Cade Foster made one of his three field goals, the Tide wins — it’s that simple.

Foster had been near perfect entering the Iron Bowl. On Saturday, he wasn’t.

Foster missed kicks of 44 and 37 yards and had another 44-yard attempt blocked.

The Tide also came up short on a 4th-and-1 play at the Auburn 13-yard line with just 5:34 left.  A first down there would have been huge for Alabama.

I’ve heard people say that Auburn was lucky to win each of the last two games.

Maybe.

I believe that only Ricardo Louis (the hero from the Georgia game) and Davis could have made those plays — and neither miracle was given to them. They both had to execute in the moment, which is easier said than done.

I talked to former Auburn great David Campbell on Friday. He said plays like the Miracle on the Plains happen once every 50 years or so.

More like every two weeks.

Now the Tigers take on Missouri in next week’s SEC Championship Game.

Alabama’s chances at a three-peat are gone, but Auburn has an outside shot to continue the SEC’s stranglehold on BCS titles. The Tigers would have to beat Missouri and have either Florida State or Ohio State lose to make the championship game.

Stay tuned.

Auburn may have yet another miracle to perform.

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Johnathan Bentley is the Sports Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at johnathan.bentley@mountaineagle.com.