Auburn stuns Alabama to reach SEC title game; more midday Week 14 Snap Judgments
• No. 4 Auburn 34, No. 1 Alabama 28: One miracle in Jordan-Hare Stadium apparently wasn’t enough for the Tigers’ 2013 season. Only two weeks after wideout Ricardo Louis’ incredible touchdown catch helped Auburn beat Georgia 43-38, coach Gus Malzahn’s team pulled off another improbable victory in perhaps the most memorable Iron Bowl in series history.
Standing deep in his own end zone, Tigers cornerback Chris Davis fielded a missed 57-yard field goal attempt by Crimson Tide kicker Adam Griffith and scampered the length of the field for the game-winning touchdown as time expired. Auburn’s victory sends the 11-1 Tigers to the SEC Championship Game next weekend only one season after they went 0-8 in conference play. Meanwhile, Alabama’s shot at a perfect season and a third straight BCS title is over, all thanks to its biggest rival.
The Tigers’ defense had tested the Crimson Tide for much of the afternoon, but Alabama looked as if it had finally put a bow on an Iron Bowl triumph when quarterback AJ McCarron found wide receiver Amari Cooper for a 99-yard touchdown pass with 10:42 to play. Cooper’s score gave the Tide a 28-21 lead. But with 44 seconds left, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall — who completed 11-of-16 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns — hit Sammie Coates for a 39-yard touchdown pass to knot the game at 28.
From there, Alabama needed only a field goal to win, and Nick Saban’s crew methodically crept into range. But tailback T.J. Yeldon ran out of bounds at the Tigers’ 38-yard line as the clock hit zero, seemingly sending the game to overtime. Officials reviewed the play, however, and put one second back on the clock. That allowed Griffith — a redshirt freshman from Calhoun, Ga., who was inserted for the final kick in place of struggling kicker Cade Foster (0-3 on the night) — to attempt a 57-yard game-winner.
Griffith’s kick had the accuracy, but not the distance. Davis caught the ball and ran more than 100 yards down the left sideline to give Auburn the upset.
Auburn wouldn’t have been in position to win the game without the efforts of Marshall, tailback Tre Mason and the team’s rushing attack. The Tigers’ ground game has been its bread and butter all season, and they ran for 296 yards (5.7 per carry) against ‘Bama’s vaunted defense. No team has put up more than 200 yards on the ground against the Crimson Tide since Georgia Southern in 2011. Marshall ran for 99 yards and one touchdown, while Mason rolled for 164 yards and one score on 29 carries.
• Georgia 41, Georgia Tech 34 (2OT): Todd Gurley rushed for a 25-yard touchdown in the second overtime and the Bulldogs’ defense stuffed the Yellow Jackets on the ensuing possession to give Georgia a victory over its in-state rival. But the Bulldogs, who started redshirt junior Hutson Mason at quarterback, had to rally to make it happen. Georgia Tech jumped out to a 20-0 lead, but Georgia came back thanks largely to Gurley, who ran for three touchdowns and 122 yards. [RECAP | BOX]
• Penn State 31, No. 14 Wisconsin 24: Christian Hackenberg didn’t look like a true freshman against one of the Big Ten’s better teams. Hackenberg threw for 339 yards and four touchdowns as the Nittany Lions took advantage of three interceptions from the Badgers’ Joel Stave. Wisconsin’s third loss of the season likely drops it out of consideration for a BCS at-large bid. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 9 Baylor 41, TCU 38: Baylor’s hope for a share of the Big 12 title is still alive. The Bears held off an upset bid from a feisty TCU squad to win their 10th game of the season. Bryce Petty helped Baylor bounce back from its first loss of the season against Oklahoma State by accounting for three touchdowns. The Horned Frogs had a shot to tie the game in the waning moments, but TCU quarterback Casey Pachall threw his third interception of the night with 11 seconds to play. [RECAP | BOX]
• Syracuse 34, Boston College 31: The Orange reached bowl-eligibility on Saturday thanks to an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Terrel Hunt to tight end Josh Parris with six seconds to play. The Eagles played much of the game without the nation’s leading rusher, Andre Williams, who was injured in the third quarter and did not return. Williams had only 29 yards on nine carries at the time of his injury. Meanwhile, Hunt was responsible for 360 total yards (270 passing, 90 rushing) and three touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) as Syracuse snapped Boston College’s four-game winning streak. [RECAP | BOX]
• Virginia Tech 16, Virginia 6: Logan Thomas threw for 229 yards and a touchdown and Virginia Tech beat rival Virginia for the 10th consecutive time. The Hokies, who are no longer able to reach the ACC title game thanks to Duke’s win on Saturday, turned the ball over twice against the Cavaliers, but Virginia was unable to capitalize on either. [RECAP | BOX]