SEC on CBS Top 10: No. 4; Nov. 16, 2013 Georgia at Auburn
The Miracle at Jordan-Hare, an improbable 73-yard TD pass in the closing minutes, kept Auburn's amazing comeback story alive.
Both schools started football after Professors Charles Herty (Georgia) and George Petrie (Auburn) learned the game together while doing graduate work at Johns Hopkins.
The two friends fielded the first teams on their respective campuses and decided that Auburn and Georgia should play at Atlanta's Piedmont Park on Feb. 20, 1892. Auburn-Georgia is the oldest continuous rivalry in the South.
It doesn't have the year-long bitterness that divides families or the clean, old-fashioned hate that comes with most rivalries.
"In many ways it's like brother playing brother," said Vince Dooley, who played quarterback for Auburn in the 1950s and then coached Georgia against his alma mater for 25 seasons. "You don't hate your brother. But you still want to beat him."
When the two schools met for the 117th time last month, the series was tied 54-54-8. The tie was ultimately broken with what must go down as the greatest finish in the history of the series, earning Auburn-Georgia of 2013 a place on our CBS Top 10 SEC games of all time.
Auburn, which was 3-9 the season before, was having an unexpectedly good season under first-year coach Gus Malzahn. Except for a Sept. 21 loss at LSU (35-21), Auburn had found a way to win each week. The Tigers had thrown a last-minute touchdown to beat Mississippi State. They put together a drive in the final minutes to upset Texas A&M at College Station.
And for three quarters against Georgia the Tigers were unstoppable, taking a 37-17 lead into the fourth quarter. But Georgia's Aaron Murray, the all-time leading passer in SEC history, fashioned a great comeback and scored on a 5-yard run with 1:49 left to give the Bulldogs a 38-37 lead. It appeared Auburn's luck had finally run out.
Auburn was down to its last play, facing a fourth-and-18 at its own 27-yard line. One more incomplete pass would signal disappointment for Auburn and one of the greatest fourth-quarter comebacks ever for Georgia.
Across the street from Jordan-Hare Stadium, Rivals.com had set up a broadcast location featuring former Jacksonville State coach (and Auburn assistant) Jack Crowe and former Auburn player Rob Pate. The camera stayed focused on the faces of Crowe and Pate while they gave a running commentary of the game, surrounded by Auburn fans. During a timeout before the critical play, Crowe said that Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall would not look to a receiver who was necessarily open, but to the one he "trusted" to make a big play with the game on the line.
When Auburn broke the huddle, Crowe asked: "Who's that in the slot up there?"
"That's Ricardo Louis," said Pate.
"That's who it's going to be," said Crowe.
The Hail Mary from Marshall bounced off two Georgia defenders and into the arms of Louis, who covered the rest of the 73 yards. What followed next was pandemonium, both inside and outside of Jordan-Hare.
After a failed two-point conversion, Auburn led 43-38 with 25 seconds left. Murray, who was magnificent in the fourth quarter, got Georgia down to the Auburn 25-yard line in the closing seconds. But on the last play of the game, Murray was hit by Auburn's Dee Ford and his pass went incomplete.
The game moved Auburn to 10-1 overall, 6-1 in the SEC, and set up a winner-take-all for the SEC West championship against Alabama.
After the win over Georgia, Auburn fans went home that night convinced they had seen the most spectacular finish to a home game in their lifetime. As it turned out the finish to the Georgia-Auburn game of 2013 would be only the second best of that SEASON. That's because the miracle of all miracles would take place two weeks later against No. 1 Alabama.
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