SEC on CBS Top 10: No. 1, 2013 Alabama at Auburn
The Iron Bowl usually is enough, but Alabama-Auburn 2013 was special. Chris Davis' 109 missed-FG return capped a series of fantastic plays in CBS' best ever SEC Live game.
The Iron Bowl is all about tradition, angst, hate, 365/24/7 and the state of Alabama.
What are we to make, then, of November 30, 2013?
There was tradition. Alabama and Auburn were meeting for the 78th time that afternoon. The angst was there. It was basically a winner-take-all between the No. 1 Tide and No. 4 Tigers. The hate plays itself out 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Just listen to WJOX in Birmingham for a few hours.
The latest Iron Bowl -- The Kick Six -- beat them all. Beat all those Shug-Bear meetings, beat moving out of Legion Field, beat Punt, Bama, Punt!
Beat them all.
You can't hate that. For those of us who witnessed it, this not only was the best Iron Bowl, it defined the 2013 season. Auburn played its way into the BCS. Alabama played its way out.
Or, perhaps, kicked its way out?
The game gave rise to a line of T-shirts: "Hey, Nick you got a second?"
It made a star of a heretofore unknown defensive back.
As Chris Davis chugged down the sideline 109 yards to glory, some sort of symbolic baton was passed. Gus Malzahn had outcoached the great Saban.
When asked if this was the greatest win of a still-young career, Malzahn hedged.
"It ranks right up there, there's no doubt," he said.
His wife Kristi -- standing off the side at the postgame news conference -- gave confirmation.
"Just say, 'Yes,'" she said.
"Indeed, it is a new day," Gus said.
After exactly 24 games as a head coach.
There were a lot of whirlwinds blowing after the game. A week later Auburn found itself in its second BCS title game in four years. Three months earlier the Tigers had been unranked.
Nick Marshall, a former Georgia defensive back, now finds himself the quarterback of the most lethal rushing attack in the country. Last year at this time he was experiencing the desolation of Garden City, Kan. as a junior college (throwing) quarterback.
For the 80 or so Auburn players who were part of a 3-9 season in 2012, it was pure joy. Beat Florida State and those Tigers will be part of the biggest single-season turnaround in major-college history.
But what made it so great on Nov. 30 is stuff we'll probably never seen again. Saban -- wind at his team's back -- had every right to go for that 57-yard field goal. Never mind that his freshman kicker had exactly two career attempts to his name.
For the last four years, everything had been magic for Alabama. Why would this be any different?
But it was. Saban watched two different kickers miss a total of four field goals.
Kick, Bama, Kick?
What happened next was like watching Halley's Comet. We may never see it again in our lifetimes. Davis' winning return just about wiped from memory Marshall's stunning, tying touchdown pass with 32 seconds left.
It certainly made us forget AJ McCarron's Heisman moment, a 99-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper. McCarron didn't win the Heisman, though it would be hard to call him a loser that night.
Years from now, hundreds of thousands will claim they were there when they witnessed a dynasty Nick-ed. It will be up to history to determine if that dynasty suffered a mere flesh wound.
It was the best finish any of us have ever seen. It was the best SEC game ever broadcast by CBS.
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