As a Notre Dame fan and student, I have no idea why I’m writing about college football when I need to push it out of my mind and deny that this season ever happened. I must say, though, the 2013 Iron Bowl is the greatest college football game I’ve ever witnessed live, and in honor of another huge Auburn upset win, I figured now was the appropriate time to take a look back at the 2013 Iron Bowl.
Auburn was coming off of an electrifying win over #25 Georgia thanks to this unbelievable 4th and 18 TD pass from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis. Auburn fans hoped that the luck wouldn’t run out next week against #1 Alabama, the perennial college football juggernaut.
Heading into the Iron Bowl, I thought that no game could have been better than Auburn-Georgia. I knew Auburn could make an improbable title run, but the craziness of that Georgia game seemed unable to be replicated. Here’s a little summary of the game before the last play.
Auburn opened the scoring with a 45 yard Marshall scamper, but in the second quarter, Alabama scored 21 straight. Auburn did score before the half, though, on a Tre Mason touchdown run. At the half, Alabama led by a touchdown. Before this game, Bama had been 73-3 under Nick Saban when leading at halftime.
Auburn opened the third quarter with a long touchdown drive to tie the game, but A.J. McCarron countered with a 99 yard touchdown strike to all-world receiver Amari Cooper in the fourth quarter to take a 28-21 lead. This was the score until, with 32 seconds left, Sammie Coates caught a 34 yard touchdown to tie the game. Crazy enough, right? It gets one hell of a lot crazier.
Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon seemed to run out of bounds as time expired, but replay showed that there was one second remaining. Saban elected to try a 58 yard field goal with his freshman kicker Adam Griffith instead of Cade Foster, who had missed two field goals earlier in the game. Gus Malzahn sent Chris Davis out to potentially return a missed field goal.
He did just that.
Griffith missed just short, allowing Davis to return the kick with only Alabama offensive linemen in his way.
Davis took the kick around the left side, tiptoeing the sideline to stay in bounds.
He turned it back up to the middle of the field, and chaos erupted inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
This monumental victory catapulted Auburn into the SEC Championship against Mizzou, which Auburn won. The Tigers (of Auburn, not Mizzou) lost 34-31 in the National Championship to Jameis Winston and Florida State.
The legacy of this game lives on forever in the hearts and minds of every college football fan. The last quarter was must-watch football regardless of how the game ended, and the Kick Six was the extraordinary grand finale. I remember watching it live and losing my mind, even though I had no dog in the fight. There were aftershocks for a full week as the football world tried to process what exactly had just happened. Not only had Alabama just been defeated by their biggest rival, but it happened in the most unbelievable, shocking way.
There were videos of fan reactions, Auburn and Bama alike, and I sometimes still go back and re-watch them. The magnitude of this finish can never be replicated. The only game that comes close is “The Play,” when the Stanford band came onto the field as Cal scored on an unreal lateral-filled kick return to end the game. It is the most famous play in college football history, and Joe Starkey, the Cal play-by-play announcer, nails the call: “The band is out on the field!…The Bears have won!”
That’s where another parallel is drawn. The call in the Kick Six is just as memorable. “They’re not gonna keep ’em off the field tonight!” The call is delivered by the local announcers again, which always reminds me of the John Tyler vs. Plano East game, a Texas high school football championship game. These guys have their entire lives invested in Plano East football, and the “greatest comeback of all time” is ripped from them on the last play of the game. It may be the single saddest clip on YouTube, but it still never fails to make me laugh. Those poor announcers. We’ve all been there.
Anyway, Auburn’s win cemented a magical season for Tigers fans and gave the rest of us viewers yet another reason to love college football. If you watch any sort of “greatest college football moments” video made after November 30, 2013, the Kick Six is guaranteed to be in it. It was fun to watch Alabama lose while also witnessing history. Nothing beats this game.