||This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (December 2013)|
|78th Iron Bowl|
|Date||November 30, 2013|
|Favorite||Alabama favored by 10|
|United States TV coverage|
|Announcers||Verne Lundquist (play-by-play)
Gary Danielson (color)
Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
The Kick Six (alternatively referred to as Kick Bama Kick) refers to a play during the 78th Iron Bowl college football rivalry game: played November 30, 2013 at Jordan–Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama, the game featured No. 1-ranked and two-time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide (11–0, 7–0 in the SEC) as a 10-point favorite over the home-standing No. 4-ranked Auburn Tigers (10–1, 6–1 in the SEC). The winner would clinch the SEC Western Division championship.
The game was notable for its ending; with 32 seconds remaining, Auburn tied the game 28–28 on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Marshall to Coates. With one second remaining in regulation, Alabama freshman Adam Griffith's 57-yard field goal attempt fell short. Auburn's Chris Davis was positioned at the back of the end zone and caught the errant kick, returning it 109 yards (100 yards under NCAA scoring rules) to the opposite end zone and giving Auburn the upset victory. Davis' touchdown tied the longest return of a missed field goal in NCAA college football history.
Auburn's victory followed another win in their previous game while hosting Georgia, a game known as the "Prayer at Jordan–Hare." The Tigers also avenged two consecutive lopsided defeats by the Crimson Tide following their national championship season of 2010, and all but ended Alabama's hopes of winning a third straight national title.
The game, which was televised by CBS, posted an 11.8 television rating during the final half hour, the highest rating ever achieved during a college football broadcast at that time. Many sports writers and fans alike argued that this play was the single greatest moment in college football history.
In Auburn's previous game two weeks prior, the Tigers had defeated Georgia with a Hail Mary pass late in the game known as the "Prayer at Jordan–Hare." Auburn had also defeated Mississippi State two months earlier on a late Marshall touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining. In October, Auburn had knocked off No. 7 Texas A&M with a Mason touchdown run with 1:19 left on the clock, and then a sack of reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel on fourth down with the Aggies driving in the final seconds. Auburn also hoped to avenge its 49–0 loss at Alabama during the previous Iron Bowl.
Alabama was favored by analysts to conclude the 2013–14 season with a fourth national title in five years. In fact, the winner of the previous four Iron Bowls (2009–2012) had gone on to win the national championship—Alabama in 2009, 2011, and 2012 and Auburn in 2010. Entering the 2013 Iron Bowl, with Alabama and Auburn ranked No. 1 and No. 4 respectively in the BCS standings, this was only the second matchup in the rivalry to feature two Top 5 teams. On November 27, 1971, No. 3 Alabama faced No. 5 Auburn in Birmingham, Alabama, both teams undefeated. Alabama was also undefeated in the last three years and 24 days in games played outside of their home field in Tuscaloosa, their last loss prior to those 18 consecutive road victories coming on November 6, 2010 at LSU.
With Alabama favored by 10 points, most sports analysts did not pick Auburn to win this game. Marq Burnett of The Anniston Star went as far as to list seven reasons why Auburn could not beat Alabama including Alabama's tough run defense and unstoppable offense, even the superior coaching skills of Nick Saban over Gus Malzahn. Joel Erickson of The Birmingham News was one of the few writers to pick Auburn, predicting a score of 31–28. Similar predictions were shared during ESPN's College GameDay, which was broadcast live from outside Jordan–Hare Stadium prior to the game. The program's panel of Kirk Herbstreit, David Pollack, and Lee Corso, as well as Paul Finebaum, unanimously picked Alabama to win the game. Auburn alumnus and NBA on TNT personality Charles Barkley, who appeared as a special guest, went against the panel and chose Auburn to win the game.
Coaches and players
- Nick Saban (62), head coach for Alabama, entered the game with a 165–56–1 lifetime record over 18 seasons
- Gus Malzahn (48), head coach for Auburn, entered the game with a 19–4 lifetime record over 2 seasons
- Ellis Johnson (61), 1st-year defensive coordinator for Auburn, former Alabama defensive coordinator (1997–2000)
- Chris Davis (senior), captain and cornerback for Auburn, returned the missed field goal by Adam Griffith 109 yards to win the game.
- AJ McCarron (senior), three-year starting quarterback for Alabama, all-time passing leader in Crimson Tide history, Heisman candidate, boyfriend of model Katherine Webb (an Auburn graduate)
- Nick Marshall (junior), first-year starting quarterback for Auburn
- T. J. Yeldon (sophomore), running back for Alabama, entered game as the third-leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference in 2013, committed to Auburn on June 14, 2011 prior to his senior year of high school, announced on December 18, 2011 that he had decided to play for Alabama
- Tre Mason (junior), running back for Auburn, entered game as the leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference in 2013, allowed Auburn to become the first school in SEC history to produce a 1000-yard rusher in five consecutive seasons
- Amari Cooper (sophomore), wide receiver for Alabama
- Sammie Coates (sophomore), wide receiver for Auburn, entered the game as the leading receiver in yards per catch in the Southeastern Conference in 2013
- Cade Foster (senior), placekicker for Alabama, entered the game ranked 2nd in the Southeastern Conference in 2013 with 91.7% success on field goals. Foster frustrated Alabama fans during his sophomore season when he missed three field goal attempts on November 5, 2011, in an Alabama overtime loss to LSU.
- Adam Griffith (freshman), back-up placekicker for Alabama, who was 1/2 for his collegiate career, missed the final 57 yard field goal which in turn got returned for a touchdown by Chris Davis.
Alabama received the opening kickoff and drove to the Auburn 34-yard line in only two plays, but the following three handoffs to Yeldon gained only seven yards and Alabama faced fourth-and-3 at the 27. Senior Foster attempted a 44-yard field goal but the kick drifted wide left.
Auburn's opening drive netted 20 yards and ended in a punt after Marshall's potential 52-yard touchdown pass was dropped by Ricardo Louis. Alabama was then held to seven yards going three-and-out. The kicking woes of the Crimson Tide continued when Cody Mandell's punt was partially blocked by Ryan Smith.
Auburn answered when Marshall capped off a seven-play, 66-yard drive with a 45-yard touchdown run. It was the Tigers' first offensive touchdown against Alabama since 2010. On each team's third possession of the game, only Auburn managed a single first down and both teams punted the ball away.
The quarter ended with Auburn leading 7–0.
Momentum shifted when Alabama scored on their first three possessions of the second quarter, the first a 67-yard drive that was kept alive by a fourth-and-2 conversion and ended with a 3-yard McCarron touchdown pass to Jalston Fowler. The second drive started at the Auburn 36-yard line after a Mason fumble. Four plays later McCarron hit Kevin Norwood for a 20-yard touchdown. The third drive covered 56 yards in five plays and Yeldon ran for a 1-yard score as Alabama had rattled off 21 unanswered points.
Auburn meanwhile had two possessions that accounted for a mere six yards over seven plays, one ending with Mason's fumble and the second with a Steven Clark punt. Auburn narrowed the gap with a fast-paced 81-yard drive that took only 2:08 before Mason powered into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown. Alabama's final drive of the half only netted 10 yards before time expired.
The Crimson Tide led, 21–14, at the half.
Under Saban, Alabama had a dominating record of 73–3 when leading at halftime. But their 7-point lead quickly dissipated. Auburn received the kickoff in the second half and drove 69 yards to tie the game, 21–21, on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Marshall to C. J. Uzomah.
After Alabama netted no yards over three plays, Auburn moved the ball to the Alabama 43 before having to punt, downing the ball at the Alabama 1-yard line. The Crimson Tide engineered an impressive drive, moving the ball 88 yards from their own 1 to Auburn's 11 before the 3rd quarter came to a close.
Alabama's impressive drive came to a dramatic halt to begin the 4th quarter as McCarron threw two incomplete passes and a false start penalty moved the offense back five yards. Cooper had also dropped a potential touchdown pass during this drive. Attempting a 33-yard field goal on 4th down, Crimson Tide kicker Foster shanked his second field goal of the game when the kick sailed wide left. Foster's first attempt was actually successful but the play was nullified by a false start penalty against Alabama's No. 77 Arie Kouandjio.
When Auburn's following drive was stopped at the Alabama 47, a Steven Clark punt was again downed at the 1-yard line. Alabama had not scored in over 23 minutes of game time, not since 3:48 of the 2nd quarter, that 21-point flurry the only scoring for the Crimson Tide up to this point. But McCarron made quick work of bad field position by throwing a 99-yard touchdown pass to Cooper on the first play giving Alabama a 28–21 lead with 10:28 remaining in the game. It was the longest pass play in Crimson Tide history.
Auburn's next two drives failed to net a first down. The first of those drives ended in Auburn territory when Marshall was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1. Alabama took over at the Auburn 35 and handed the ball to Yeldon on five consecutive plays but only gained a single first down and minimal yardage. Facing 4th-and-1 at the Auburn 13-yard line, Saban decided against attempting a 30-yard field goal, which would have put Alabama up by 10 points. Instead Yeldon was stopped for no gain by Auburn's Carl Lawson on the attempted fourth-down conversion that gave the Tigers the ball at the their own 14-yard line.
After the subsequent three-and-out, Steven Clark punted from his own end zone and made a touchdown-saving tackle on Alabama's punt returner Christion Jones. With the 19-yard return, Alabama took over with great field position at Auburn's 25-yard line. But the Crimson Tide offense lost two yards over three plays and faced a 44-yard field goal attempt by Foster. Already 0-for-2, Foster's kick was blocked by Auburn senior Nosa Eguae.
With 2:41 left on the clock and trailing 28–21, Marshall led Auburn to the Alabama 39 in six plays.
Final 32 seconds
With 32 seconds remaining in the game, Marshall rolled left on third down, faked a run and then stopped, lobbing a short pass over defenders Cyrus Jones and Ha'Sean "HaHa" Clinton-Dix to a wide open Coates who scored on a 39-yard touchdown tying the game 28–28.
On the ensuing possession with seven seconds left in the game, Alabama's Yeldon scampered 24 yards to Auburn's 38-yard line where, attempting to run out the clock, he was knocked out of bounds by Chris Davis. The game clock had expired, but Saban and McCarron, not content to go to overtime, argued with the referees to put one second back on the clock. The replay showed that Yeldon's foot had indeed touched out of bounds a moment before regulation expired. The officials ruled that it was 1st-and-10 for Alabama at the Auburn 38, with one second on the clock. Rather than have McCarron take a knee and force overtime, or throw a Hail Mary pass, Saban elected to attempt a 57-yard field goal. Instead of sending Foster back onto the field, Saban selected redshirt freshman Adam Griffith for only the third attempt of his career. Griffith had hit 60-yard field goals in practice and the wind was blowing favorably for the Crimson Tide.
To keep Auburn from blocking the kick, Alabama stacked their field goal unit with large, powerful, but slower offensive linemen. Auburn's defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson, doubted Alabama would make the long kick and suggested that defensive back Ryan Smith stand in the end zone with the potential to return a missed field goal. Just before the kick, Malzahn called a timeout to "ice the kicker." During the timeout, Malzahn agreed with Johnson's idea to attempt a return of any missed field goal. However, he suggested Auburn's speedy punt returner, senior Chris Davis, Jr., stand under the goalpost rather than Smith.
As time expired Griffith's kick fell just short of the goalpost, Alabama's fourth failed field goal of the game. Davis fielded the ball nine yards deep in the end zone. He brought it out and cut left, toward his own sideline. With Tiger players blocking the Tide linemen, Davis raced down the sideline, narrowly avoiding contact with Griffith. Davis sprinted 109 yards to the north end zone as Auburn pulled off the upset, 34–28. It was unofficially the longest missed field goal return in NCAA history, tying a 109-yard return earlier in the 2013 season by Odell Beckham of LSU. The play was officially credited as a 100-yard return under NCAA scoring rules; unlike the NFL, the NCAA does not include distance covered coming out of the end zone in kick returns. 
The crowd reaction to the play registered on seismographs across the state of Alabama in a manner similar to activity registered during the 1988 Auburn-LSU "Earthquake Game".
- Commentators Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson called the game on television nationally for CBS's SEC coverage.
Lundquist's call of the last play:
|“||On the way... no, returned by Chris Davis. Davis goes left, Davis gets a block, DAVIS HAS ANOTHER BLOCK! CHRIS DAVIS, NO FLAGS! TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! AN ANSWERED PRAYER!||”|
Gary Danielson would later compare the magnitude of this game to the legendary Miracle on Ice, a moment that transcends sports, equating Auburn's upset of Alabama comparable to the amateur USA hockey team defeating the powerhouse Soviet Union team in 1980. Danielson commented on the moment stating "I just think it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I'm very proud to have been a part of it."
- Commentators Rod Bramblett and Stan White called the game on radio for the Auburn IMG Sports Network.
Bramblett's call of the last play:
|“||Chris Davis is going to drop back into the end zone in single safety. Well, I guess if this thing comes up short he can field it and run it out. Alright, here we go. 56-yarder, it's got—no, it does not have the leg. And Chris Davis takes it in the back of the end zone. He'll run it out to the 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 45—THERE GOES DAVIS! [White shouts "Oh my God! Oh my God!"] DAVIS IS GOING TO RUN IT ALL THE WAY BACK! AUBURN'S GOING TO WIN THE FOOTBALL GAME! AUBURN'S GOING TO WIN THE FOOTBALL GAME! HE RAN THE MISSED FIELD GOAL BACK! HE RAN IT BACK 109 YARDS! [fans streaming onto the field] THEY'RE NOT GOING TO KEEP THEM OFF THE FIELD TONIGHT! HOLY COW! OH MY GOD! AUBURN WINS! AUBURN HAS WON THE IRON BOWL! AUBURN HAS WON THE IRON BOWL IN THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE FASHION YOU WILL EVER SEE! I CANNOT BELIEVE IT! 34–28! AND WE THOUGHT 'A MIRACLE IN JORDAN-HARE' WAS AMAZING! OH MY LORD IN HEAVEN! [White laughing hysterically in background, Bramblett short of breath] CHRIS DAVIS... JUST RAN IT... ONE HUNDRED... AND NINE YARDS... AND AUBURN... IS GOING TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!||”|
Gold's call of the last play:
|“||Kick on the way, it's got leg, it is sailing, it is short. It is grabbed about eight yards deep in the end zone. Brought back to the near side, run down the near sideline, THERE'S NOBODY THERE FOR ALABAMA! AUBURN IS GOING TO WIN! Auburn is going to win the Iron Bowl!||”|
McCarron finished with 277 yards passing and three touchdowns for the Crimson Tide while Auburn's Marshall completed 11 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns, rushing for 99 yards and a third touchdown. Neither quarterback threw an interception.
Alabama's Yeldon rushed for 141 yards and 1 touchdown while Mason amassed 164 yards and one touchdown for the Tigers, the most rushing yards for a single player against Alabama in 2013. Cooper caught six passes for 178 yards for the Crimson Tide and Auburn's Coates finished with 60 yards receiving. 39 of Coates's 60 yards came on the game-tying touchdown and 99 of Cooper's 168 yards came on the 99 yard touchdown reception in the beginning of the 4th quarter.
Auburn's win moved them to third in the BCS standings, and sent them to the SEC Championship game at the expense of Alabama, where they would meet Missouri and win 59-42. After #2 Ohio State's defeat by Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game the next week, Auburn moved into second place and thus won a place in the BCS National Championship Game where they were beaten in similar fashion by the undefeated Florida State Seminoles 31–34, ending the SEC's streak of seven years with a national championship. The Seminoles stole the championship from the Tigers with only 13 seconds left on the clock. Auburn's Gus Malzahn went on to win the SEC Coach of the Year award  and receive a six-year contract extension worth $3.85m per year. Alabama's AJ McCarron and Auburn's Tre Mason would both be 2013 Heisman Trophy finalists, although many believed that McCarron's defeat effectively ended his chances of winning the award. Florida State QB Jameis Winston wound up winning the award. Alabama would eventually lose to the Oklahoma Sooners 45-31 in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.
It was, quite simply, the most astounding ending ever to a college football game. I was at the Boise State-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl in 2007; this tops it. More at stake, and even more shock value on the final play (minus the player proposing to his girlfriend on the field).
An article in USA Today described the back-to-back victories with the analogy that lightning struck twice, the Georgia game being "one of the greatest finishes to a college football game" and the Alabama upset "perhaps the greatest play in college football history. The Birmingham News called the Auburn victory their "latest miracle finish ... even more stunning than the first." The News & Record called the 2013 Iron Bowl possibly "the greatest college football game ever played."
Naming the game
After the game, the press quickly seized on Alabama's Achilles' heel; the Crimson Tide kicking game. In reference to their four unsuccessful field goal attempts, writers immediately christened the game "Kick Bama Kick," in reference to the 1972 Iron Bowl, nicknamed "Punt Bama Punt", in which two blocked punts were returned for touchdowns by Auburn. At 6:43 p.m., just 18 minutes after of the conclusion of the game, Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News had posted an article entitled "Kick Bama Kick" but included an online poll allowing readers to select their favorite moniker. Among seven proposed titles, "Kick Bama Kick" won by a landslide. Ryan Black of the Ledger–Enquirer in Columbus, Georgia titled an article "Kick, Bama, kick" within hours of the game's completion. Frank Cooney of Yahoo! Sports, who noted that the game will be "forever secured" in the discussion for the most dramatic college football game in history, also titled his piece "Kick Bama Kick" that evening. One year after the game, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and Fox Sports referred to it as the "Kick Six".
Nominations and awards
At the 2014 ESPY Awards, recognizing the greatest achievements in the world of sports, the 2013 Iron Bowl won the award in the category of Best Game under the name Auburn vs Alabama, Iron Bowl. The other two nominees were Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals and the Indianapolis Colts first round playoff victory.
Additionally, Chris Davis' game-winning touchdown return was named Best Play at the 2014 ESPYs under the name Davis FG return. The play beat out three other nominees including another Auburn play, the winning touchdown pass in their game against Georgia two weeks prior.
Cremated human remains, likely those of a deceased Auburn fan, were discovered on the field inside Jordan-Hare Stadium by Auburn's grounds crew the Monday following the game.
During the massive post-game celebration on Pat Dye Field, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn's visor was snatched off his head by a teenage fan. The incident was caught on camera. The thief later issued an apology, however Auburn officials never responded to his offers to return the visor. The sweater vest Malzahn wore during the game was later auctioned off for charity.
A column on the game written the following week by Stanford student Winston Shi broke the single-day traffic record for the Stanford Daily's website.
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- Iron Bowl Earthquake?
- Cremated remains dumped on Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium after the Iron Bowl.
- Did a kid steal Gus Malzahn’s visor off his head as students rushed the field after the Iron Bowl?: The War Eagle Reader
- 'Holy crap what have I done!' Auburn fan who stole Gus Malzahn's visor issues apology, wants to return the hat: The War Eagle Reader
- Despite emails, 15-year-old who took Gus Malzahn’s visor following Iron Bowl still hasn’t heard from Auburn: The War Eagle Reader
- Vested Interest: Faith-based charity started by former Auburn equipment manager to auction off Gus Malzahn’s Iron Bowl sweater vest: The War Eagle Reader
- Big Bang: Iron Bowl column sets readership record for Stanford’s student newspaper: The War Eagle Reader
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