If you're a fan of college football and you missed this year's 78th Annual Iron Bowl between No. 1 Alabama and intrastate rival No. 4 Auburn, then it's likely you are sulking as you watch the highlights. And if you're not a fan of college football then watching said highlights would likely make you change your mind. It was a slobber-knocker for the ages and possibly the greatest Iron Bowl in the entire storied history of the rivalry.
Prognosticators had already pegged the Auburn Tigers as a mere speed bump for the Crimson Tide on their way to a third straight national championship, but Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn had other plans. Namely a chance to play in the SEC Championship game versus the fifth-ranked Missouri Tigers in Atlanta.
Though an exciting affair from the very beginining, the contest was punctuated by Alabama's struggles on special teams. Missed opportunities and silly penalties are what allowed Auburn to remain within striking distance throughout the game and they would ultimately spell doom for the Crimson Tide. It was all good just minutes earlier as Alabama QB AJ McCarron hit Amari Cooper for a 99 yard touchdown to go up 28-21.
Crimson Tide kicker Cade Foster missed three straight field goals that would come back to haunt them. Bama' coach Nick Saban would go for it on 4th and 1 from Auburn's 13 yard line with less than six minutes remaining, and with a seven point lead. Tide runner TJ Yeldon was stopped and Alabama was turned away again on the following posession as well.
"We have been a very good short yardage team all year," Saban said during the post game press conference. "We had a field goal from that same spot that we missed. You cannot take it for granted that we could have made it. … We have been a really good short yardage team but it just did not work out properly this time."
Auburn running back Tre Mason rushed for 164 yards and moved the chains all day long. QB Nick Marshall hit Sammie Coates for a game-tying touchdown with 32 seconds left. Everyone thought the game was going into OT, however, the refs put one second back on the clock after Yeldon ran out of bounds following a 20 yard scamper.
The play by play announcers assumed Saban would attempt a Hail Mary pass late in the game and everyone was shocked when the kicking team emerged. Saban attempted a 57-yard field goal with red shirt freshman Adam Griffith that was well short of hitting the crossbar. Auburn's Chris Davis fielded the kick and marched 100 yards to paydirt. It was only the fourth time in NCAA history that a game ended in such a manner.
Auburn had lost four out of the last five meetings against Alabama, including a 49-0 donkey-stomp last season.
"I've never lost a game like that and I've never seen a game won like that," said Nick Saban after the loss.