November 25, 2014

Iron Bowl full of fantastic finishes

It’ll go down as one of the most dramatic finishes in college football history.

One second. Just a couple of feet.

That’s all that stood between Alabama knocking off Auburn in the 2013 edition of the storied Iron Bowl, but the Tigers’ Chris Davis returned a missed field goal more than 100 yards for an improbable touchdown with no time left on the clock.

The thrilling finish was just the latest in a long string of dramatic endings in what has become the game’s greatest rivalry. Here’s a sample of some of the best finishes from the past 40 years:

1972: Punt Bama Punt. Three words that haunt the Alabama faithful to this day. With a 16-0 lead entering the fourth quarter, the unbeaten Tide thought they had the game won, but Auburn’s Bill Newton blocked two punts that would both be returned for touchdowns by his roommate, David Langner. After a Langner interception sealed the win for the Tigers, legendary Auburn coach Shug Jordan was upset with the hero of the game. Langner defended himself by saying he intercepted the pass, but Jordan smiled and said, “Yeah, but our plan was to make them punt.” 

1982: Auburn drove the length of the field and relied on freshman Bo Jackson to lift them to victory … literally. The future Heisman Trophy winner vaulted over the Alabama defensive line for the winning touchdown, lifting the Tigers to a 23-22 win that snapped the Tide’s nine-game winning streak in the series.

1984: Just two years later, Jackson went from hero to foil. With Auburn trailing 17-15 late in the game, the Tigers head coach Pat Dye choose to go for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line rather than kick a go-ahead field goal. The pitch went to Auburn’s Brent Fullwood, but Jackson ran the wrong direction and Fullwood was forced out of bounds by Alabama’s Rory Turner to preserve the Tide win.

1985: After four lead changes in the final period, Alabama’s Van Tiffin booted a 52-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Tide to a 25-23 win. 

1997: With Alabama clinging to a 17-15 lead late in the game, the Tide’s Ed Scissum fumbled to set Auburn up for a chance to win. The Tigers Jaret Holmes booted a 39-yard field goal with 20 seconds left to give Auburn an 18-17 win and its first SEC West crown. 

2009: With Auburn angling for an upset, Alabama’s Greg McElroy guided the second-ranked Tide on a 15-play, 79-yard drive that burned up seven minutes in the fourth quarter. He capped it off with a four-yard touchdown pass to Roy Upchurch to give the Tide a 26-21 victory en route to a national title for Alabama.

2010: After staking Alabama to a 24-0 lead in the first half, future Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton brought Auburn back in the second half to a thrilling 28-27 win. The Tigers would go on to win the 2010 national championship.

With such a pedigree, what drama will unfold when the Tide and Tigers take the field on Nov. 29?

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