Auburn’s 48-45 win against Alabama will instantly join the pantheon of classic Iron Bowls. Not only did it feature countless future pros making big plays on both sides of the ball, but it also ensured the Crimson Tide will miss the College Football Playoff for the first time since its inception. And while it might not have been Kick Six wild, it was pretty close. Here’s a look at the incredible, absurd and impossible-to-believe moments that made this one unforgettable.
The Alabama quarterback can’t say he didn’t have a clean pocket. He might have had the cleanest pocket he’d get all game. And yet Jones’ mechanics were off, the ball sailed over the intended receiver’s head and Auburn defensive back Smoke Monday happily caught the pass instead, racing back the other way for 6 points that gave Auburn the 17-10 lead.
Jaylen Waddle doing Jaylen Waddle things
Jaylen Waddle returns the ball 98 yards for an Alabama touchdown.
Almost as soon as Auburn took the lead, the Tide came right back. On the heels of Monday’s pick-six, the Tigers kicked off to Waddle, the leading return man in college football, and he made them pay. The speedy sophomore found a crease and 98 yards later was in the end zone, as Nick Saban’s crew tied things up at 17. It was the beginning of what would be a four-touchdown day for Waddle, Alabama’s “fourth” receiver.
Bo Nix‘s wild drive
That first pass down the sideline to Seth Williams defied logic. He was covered nicely by Patrick Surtain II and still hauled it in with one hand, crossing midfield. Then came a Nix scramble to his left where he twisted his body and flicked the pass out to Will Hastings, who got his feet inbounds with millimeters to spare. And if that wasn’t enough, Nix threw a rope into the end zone to Sal Cannella, who tiptoed the sideline, barely keeping his feet in for the score, tying the game at 24. That looked like it might be the final score of the first half, until …
… Another Waddle sighting
Remember what Waddle can do in the open field? Well, this time he was at receiver, Jones hit him in stride, he found a crease and outran everyone 58 yards to give Alabama the 31-24 lead.
Nick Saban blows a gasket
Nick Saban is furious after the referees put one second on the clock, giving Auburn’s Anders Carlson the opportunity to score a field goal before halftime.
It looked like Auburn would pay the price for taking a few too many early timeouts as the clock hit zero inside Alabama territory just before half. But with Tigers coach Gus Malzahn calling for time to be put back on the clock, the officials reviewed the play and 1 second was added. Alabama’s team had to be brought back on the field, having left for the locker room, and coach Nick Saban fumed, screaming at the refs. The refs signaled to run the clock and Auburn had already gotten the snap off, and Anders Carlson made the field goal that cut the Alabama lead to 4 points. Those three points wouldn’t make any difference, would they?
Hit ’em in the numbers
Mac Jones throws the ball behind Najee Harris’ back and Zakoby McClain comes up with the interception to score a 100-yard touchdown.
Jones did what every coach asks of his quarterback: Hit your target in the numbers. The problem? He hit the numbers on Najee Harris‘ back. Jones was rushed, threw it behind Harris and hit him in the back. The ball bounced into the arms of Zakoby McClain, who ran the length of the field for the second pick-six of the game and a 37-31 Auburn lead.
Alabama’s Joseph Bulovas misses a 30-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to seal Auburn’s win.
Just when it looked like Alabama would tie the game and potentially head into overtime, its history of kicking woes came roaring back. A point-blank kick by Joseph Bulovas from 30 yards out went off the left upright, preserving the Auburn lead.
12 men on the field
The Tide recovered from the missed field goal to force an Auburn punt with about a minute left. Only one problem: As the Tigers were lining up on fourth-and-4, Alabama had 12 men on the field. First down Auburn, ballgame over. It was, somehow, a fitting end to the most illogical of games.
Gus Malzahn declares that he’s really proud of his Auburn team and knew if the Tigers got to the fourth quarter they had a great chance of winning.