Saturday night the Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) saw its national championship hopes destroyed as they fell to fourth-ranked Auburn (11-1) 34-28 in one of the more shocking games ever witnessed in the Iron Bowl.
With just one second remaining in the game Alabama unbelievably attempted a 57-yard field goal, with redshirt freshman Adam Griffith taking the shot, and as it came up short Auburn’s Chris Davis returned the kick 100 yards for a shocking game-winning TD. That wasn’t the sole reason Alabama lost, but it was certainly a dagger into not just the 2013 season but Alabama fans.
Despite starting slow and taking everything Auburn had, Alabama did stand in and go toe to toe. On back to back drives in the second half Alabama started on their own one yard line. On the first, McCarron drove Alabama down inside the red zone but Cade Foster missed his second field goal of the game. On the very next drive, again from the one, McCarron threw a gorgeous 99 yard TD pass to Amari Cooper in the longest pass play in Alabama history.
Cyrus Jones allowed two TD passes and Auburn’s Nick Marshall only attempted 16 passes the entire game. On the first TD Jones never got his head around and was out jumped by the receiver and then the next time, on Auburn’s tying drive he sold out to try and tackle Nick Marshall as he scrambled. The problem was that HaHa Clinton-Dix also went after the QB, leaving Auburn receiver Sammie Coats all alone for the easiest TD he’ll ever score. It wasn’t a great game for any of the Alabama defenders but Jones had a rough day.
The run defense was about as disappointing as they come, allowing Auburn to run for nearly 300 yards and at times Auburn was gashing the defense at will. They were able to make a few key stops at times during the game but when it meant the most, and Auburn was trying to tie the game late Auburn picked apart that defense methodically with ease.
Cade Foster has had one of the more stellar seasons of any kicker in the country. Coming into the Iron Bowl he hit 11 of his 12 field goal attempts and hadn’t missed a single kick under 40 yards. Two years ago against LSU in 2011 he missed all three of his field goal attempts in what became the deciding factor in that game. Against Auburn he was 0/3 including two kicks under 40 yards. Foster was even left off the field when Alabama attempted a desperation 57 yard field goal at the end of the game.
Nick Saban’s decision to attempt a 57 yard field goal and use a redshirt freshman kicker that had attempted 2 field goals his entire career with just one second to go may go down as the worst decision in his coaching career. I am not about to be a complete doom and gloom person that wants to lose it on Coach Saban like many already have, but at the same time he makes mistakes like everyone and this was one of his worst.
AJ McCarron is unquestionably the greatest player in Alabama history and rather than deciding to give him a Hail Mary attempt or at the very least letting him try to win it in overtime will be second guessed from here on out. I’ve tried and tried to understand it, but I just can’t figure it out. What’s worse is that Alabama seemed completely unprepared for the possibility of a potential Auburn return if it came up short. How is that possible?
I’ve been an Alabama fan since birth and I’ve never felt this sick after a loss. This team has fought its heart out all season and to see history washed away in a game where the entire team, coaching staff included, just seemed not ready to play is disheartening. Regardless of what happens from here on out, Alabama has had one hell of a run over the last 5 years and hopefully it will continue in the future regardless of what happens in the next few weeks across the country.
Final stats from the game are below.
AJ McCarron: 17-29, 276 yards, 3 TD
TJ Yeldon: 26 carries, 143 yards, 1 TD
Kenyan Drake: 4 carries, 33 yards
Amari Cooper: 1 carry, 28 yards
AJ McCarron: 4 carries, 15 yards
Amari Cooper: 6 catches, 177 yards, 1 TD
Kevin Norwood: 3 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD
OJ Howard: 2 catches, 23 yards
DeAndrew White: 2 catches, 13 yards
TJ Yeldon: 2 catches, 8 yards
Christion Jones: 1 catch, 7 yards
Jalston Fowler: 1 catch, 3 yards
CJ Mosley: 14 tackles
Trey Depriest: 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1.0 sack
Landon Collins: 9 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Adrian Hubbard: 6 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack
Ed Stinson: 5 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 1 quarterback hurry
Jarrick Williams: 5 tackles
A’Shawn Robinson: 5 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 0.5 sack
Deion Belue: 3 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss
Jonathan Allen: 3 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 0.5 sack
Reggie Ragland: 2 tackles
Brandon Ivory: 2 tackles
Denzel Devall: 2 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss
Kenyan Drake: 1 tackle
DeAndrew White: 1 tackle
Dillon Lee: 1 tackle
Cyrus Jones: 1 tackle
Xzavier Dickson: 1 tackle, 1 quarterback hurry
HaHa Clinton-Dix: 1 tackle
Derrick Henry: 1 tackle
Geno Smith: 1 tackle, 0.5 tackle for loss
Jeoffrey Pagan: 1 tackle, 2 quarterback hurries
Cade Foster: 0/3 FGs, 4/4 XPs
Adam Griffith: 0/1 FGs
Cody Mandel: 3 punts, 47.0 yards per punt
Christion Jones: 4 kickoff returns, 44 yards; 5 punt returns, 19 yards
Ryan Anderson: 1 kickoff return, 10 yards