Instant analysis: Auburn 34, Alabama 28
November, 30, 2013
By Alex Scarborough | ESPN.com
AUBURN, Ala. -- Somehow the game lived up to the hype. Really, it was a classic. The biggest Iron Bowl in recent memory, pitting championship hopefuls No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn, found a way to surpass the enormous buzz surrounding the matchup entering Saturday afternoon in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Alabama and Auburn wrestled back and forth all night, but the final moments belonged to the home team as Auburn did the unthinkable and returned a missed field goal in the final seconds to knock off Alabama 34-28.
It was over when: It wasn't over until it was over. Whenever Alabama pulled away, Auburn reared right back. And on the final play of regulation, Auburn returned a 57-yard field goal attempt the length of the field to pull off the improbable upset and continue the miracle season on The Plains.
Game ball goes to: Tre Mason ran like a man possessed against the vaunted Alabama defense. The Tigers' leading rusher hustled for 164 yards and a touchdown. When Auburn needed to move the chains, he did. And without the threat of him running up the middle, the read-option with Nick Marshall doesn't work so well.
Stat of the game: Alabama entered its regular-season finale having allowed just one 100-yard rusher all year. But the Tigers' Mason eclipsed the century mark before the first half was complete, gaining 164 yards overall. To make matters even more interesting, Auburn quarterback Marshall contributed 99 yards of his own on the ground, including a 45-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter. Auburn became the first team to rush for 200 yards on Alabama since Georgia Southern did it in 2011.
What it means: For Alabama, the championship run is over. For Auburn, the miracle season continues. The Tigers will go to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta and with a win there will be in the running for a berth in the national championship game.
Players Provide Playoff Picks
11:00 AM ET Nevada Louisiana-Lafayette 2:20 PM ET Utah State UTEP 3:30 PM ET 22 Utah Colorado State 5:45 PM ET Western Michigan Air Force 9:15 PM ET South Alabama Bowling Green
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State