Auburn 34, 'Bama 28: Destiny Trumps Dynasty
By Dan Harralson
Auburn's destiny season trumped Alabama's dynasty Saturday night inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. Alabama's misfortune in the field goal department translated in Auburn halting the Tide's quest for three consecutive national championships.
The 78th edition of the Iron Bowl lived up to expectation of the greatest Iron Bowl of all-time with Chris Davis returning Adam Griffith's missed 57-yard field goal attempt.
"I knew when I caught the ball I would have room to run," Davis said of the game-winning touchdown return.
The irony is with all of the top recruiting classes Nick Saban has brought into Alabama, none were on the field when Davis ended the game in an Auburn upset.
"I knew they would have big guys on the field to protect on the field goal," Davis said. "When I looked back, I said, 'I can't believe this.'"
Davis returned the missed field goal about 108 yards and no 'Bama players able to catch him.
Auburn fans celebrated by storming the field, understanding how monumental the victory was.
Alabama had chances to put the game away, but failed, and the cardiac Auburn Tigers took advantage of their second chances. Alabama likely failed to become college football's first school to win three straight national championships and no SEC school has won the conference in back-to-back years since Tennessee did in 1997-98.
Is Alabama Still In The National Championship Picture?
For the Alabama fans that have already booked hotels in the Los Angeles area for the national championship game (to be played in the Rose Bowl), don't cancel your reservations just yet.
If Missouri knocks off Auburn in the SEC championship game and Ohio State falls to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game, Saban should be getting Alabama ready for a date with Florida State in Pasadena (assuming Florida State takes care of business against Duke).
Can this scenario really happen? It has a good chance of happening and Saban may have a lot to do with this scenario. Coaches reach out to other coaches for additional insight and game-planning for certain opponents. Saban and Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, are former Kent State teammates and it will be certain that the two will trade phone calls this week.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio will play a role in helping Alabama get back into the national championship picture. Dantonio is a Saban disciple as an assistant under Saban at Michigan State. Saban has the blueprint to defend Urban Meyer's offense and I'm sure the two will trade phone calls this week, as well.
Don't be surprised if Auburn and Ohio State both lose and the Crimson Tide are back in the picture for a three-peat, and it could be the result of Saban coaching without even coaching his own team.
Gus Malzahn on the missed field goal return
"We just talked about it. I didn't know if he had the leg, so we put our punt returner back there. Chris Davis took it to the house and the place went nuts."
Malzahn on being one game away from winning the SEC
"That's what you coach for. That's what these kids play for. To get a chance to win the SEC championship."
Nick Saban on how the game ended
"First time I've lost a game that way, first time I've ever seen a game lost that way."
Chris Davis on this year's Auburn team
"We're a team of destiny. We don't take no for an answer."
AJ McCarron on how the game ended
"It was a great game. Sometimes luck just isn't on your side. It's one of those crazy plays, it's almost like a video game. That's something you do on Madden or NCAA. It's just a wild play."