Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Missed field goal return lifts Auburn over Alabama

AUBURN, Ala. — That crazy tipped pass for a long, winning touchdown is now the second-most stunning and improbable play of Auburn's season.

Yes, the Tigers found a way to top "The Immaculate Deflection."

Chris Davis returned a missed field goal 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play Saturday to lift No. 4 Auburn past No. 1 Alabama 34-28, upending the two-time defending national champions' BCS hopes and preserving the Tigers' own.

Oh, and clinching a spot in the SEC title game as West Division winners.

"We're a team of destiny," Davis said. "We won't take no for an answer."

He delivered a play that deserves its own nickname. Say the Happiest Return. Or saddest, depending on which side of the Iron Bowl you sit.

Davis caught the ball about 9 yards deep in the end zone after Adam Griffith's 57-yarder fell short (Griffith stepped in after Cade Foster missed all three of his attempts on the day). Davis sprinted down the left sideline and cut back with nothing but teammates around him in a second straight hard-to-fathom finish for the Tigers (11-1, 7-1 SEC).

"I knew when I caught the ball I would have room to run," said the senior cornerback from Birmingham, Ala. "I knew they would have big guys on the field to protect on the field goal. When I looked back, I said, 'I can't believe this.' "

Unlike the NFL, in college football such returns count as 100 yards no matter how deep in the end zone the returner is.

The Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1) seemed poised to continue its run toward the first three-peat in modern college football but couldn't put the Tigers away.

Asked if it was the biggest win of his career, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said: "It ranks right up there." But he said he'd "probably" still celebrate just like he has since his high school coaching days: with a Waffle House meal.

"That's what you coach for, that's what these kids play for, to get a chance to win the SEC championship," Malzahn said.

The Jordan-Hare Stadium public address announcer had already declared it 28-28 at the end of regulation. But Alabama got 1 second restored and one more play after a review of T.J. Yeldon's run to the Auburn 39. That gave Tide coach Nick Saban a chance to try the long field goal.

"It was a great game," Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron said. "Sometimes luck just isn't on your side."

According to NCAA records, it was only the fourth time a missed field goal was returned 100 yards, including LSU's Odell Beckham this year against UAB.

"It is my responsibility," Saban said of the loss.

This finale even one-upped Auburn's last-gasp win over Georgia on Nov. 16, a deflected 73-yard TD pass from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis with 25 seconds left.

The result sets up the SEC to, perhaps, miss the BCS title game for the first time since January 2006. No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Ohio State, the only unbeatens in the automatic BCS qualifying conferences, are likely to move up to the top two spots today, with each facing a league title game this week. However, with a win in the SEC title game, Auburn could leapfrog into one of the two spots.

. Did you know?

• Saturday was the second time Alabama lost as BCS No. 1 with two weeks or less left in regular season. The other: 2008 vs. Florida.

• Three times since 1948 that Auburn has ruined a perfect Alabama season (also 1972 and 1989).

• Since 2010, Alabama is 7-5 vs. Division I-A teams in November.

Source: ESPN Stats & Information

Buckeyes skate by

No. 3 Ohio State is set up for a possible BCS title game bid after squeaking past Michigan. 7C

Missed field goal return lifts Auburn over Alabama 11/30/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 30, 2013 11:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs journal: Offense needs to get off to a faster start


    TAMPA — The past two games have seen the Bucs offense muster furious rallies in the fourth quarter of losses, with 229 yards against the Patriots and a franchise-record 27 points against the Cardinals.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  2. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues


    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  3. Lightning's Steve Yzerman: Nikita Kucherov 'wants to be great'


    If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Nikita Kucherov joined Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux and Keith Tkachuk as the only players in the last 30 years to score a goal in each of his team's first six games.
  4. Fennelly: Longtime Bucs fans, we want to hear from you


    Calling all Bucs fans! Calling all Bucs fans!

    Jameis Winston is pressured by Chandler Jones during the Bucs' loss to the Cardinals Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.
  5. A punter is the state's only first-team, midseason All-American


    Here's another indictment of how mediocre the state's college football season has become.