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|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 was the final play of the 78th Iron Bowl college football game played on 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 No. 4-ranked Auburn Tigers (10–1, 6–1 in the SEC). At stake was the outright SEC West title and a berth in the 2013 SEC Championship Game.
The game was notable for its ending; Auburn tied the game 28–28 with 32 seconds remaining. With one second remaining in regulation, Alabama missed a 57-yard field goal. Auburn's Chris Davis caught the errant kick and returned it 100 yards (under NCAA rules) to the opposite end zone, scoring a touchdown; the runback tied LSU's Odell Beckham Jr.'s record-setting 100 yard return that same season.
The game, which was televised by CBS, posted an 11.8 television rating during the final half-hour, which was the highest rating ever achieved during a college football broadcast at that time. Some sports writers argued that Davis' play was the single greatest moment in college football history.
The two teams came into the game after very different 2012 seasons. Despite an upset at the hands of Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide ultimately finished as SEC Champions after a close game against the Georgia Bulldogs and went on to soundly defeat Notre Dame 42-14 for their second consecutive national title, their third in four years. Meanwhile, two years after their own National Championship, the Auburn Tigers suffered through their worst season in 60 years, finishing 3-9 with an abysmal 0-8 SEC record, capped by a 49-0 loss to Alabama in the 2012 Iron Bowl. Head coach Gene Chizik was fired in favor of Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn.
Alabama entered the season ranked #1 and remained at the top of the polls for the entire season, rolling through their schedule with relative ease; they won all but one of their games by more than 10 points. Auburn, on the other hand, entered the season unranked and didn't enter the AP Poll until the midpoint of the season. Auburn's season was defined by a series of come-from-behind wins and miraculous plays. Auburn defeated Mississippi State in September on a late touchdown pass. The following month, No. 24 Auburn came from behind to beat No. 7 Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel. Two weeks before the Iron Bowl, No. 7 Auburn defeated rival Georgia with a miraculous tipped Hail Mary pass known as the "Prayer at Jordan–Hare.", setting the stage for a highly ranked Iron Bowl matchup.
Alabama was predicted by analysts to conclude the 2013–14 season with a BCS record third straight national title, their fourth in five years. The winner of the previous four Iron Bowls (2009–2012) went 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, and the highest-ranked Iron Bowl ever. On November 27, 1971, No. 3 Alabama faced No. 5 Auburn at Legion Field in Birmingham, 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, Auburn was a decided underdog in the eyes of most analysts. 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 100 yards.
- AJ McCarron (senior), three-year starting quarterback for Alabama, all-time passing leader in Crimson Tide history, Heisman candidate, then boyfriend and now husband of model Katherine Webb
- 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.
- Tre Mason (junior), running back for Auburn, entered game as the leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference in 2013
- 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.
- Adam Griffith (freshman), back-up placekicker for Alabama, who was 1/2 for his collegiate career. He missed the final 57 yard field goal, which set up the final kick return.
Alabama received the opening kickoff and drove to the Auburn 34-yard line, but missed a 44-yard field goal. Auburn's opening drive netted 20 yards and no points. Alabama was then held to seven yards, going three-and-out. Auburn then capped off a seven-play, 66-yard drive with a 45-yard touchdown run by Nick Marshall. It was the Tigers' first offensive touchdown against Alabama since 2010. The quarter ended with Auburn leading 7–0.
Alabama scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second quarter, with the first two on scoring passes by AJ McCarron; the first was a 67-yard drive, the second was 36 yards, and the third drive covered 56 yards. Alabama had scored 21 unanswered points. But Auburn scored late in the second quarter on a Tre Mason run, and the Crimson Tide led, 21–14, at the half.
Under Saban, Alabama had a record of 73–3 when leading at halftime. Auburn received the kickoff in the second half and drove 69 yards to tie the game, 21–21. Later in the quarter Alabama drove 88 yards to Auburn's 11 before the 3rd quarter came to a close.
Alabama's drive came to a halt following two incomplete passes, and a false start penalty that moved the offense back five yards, nullifying the first successful field goal attempt of the game. The Crimson Tide then missed their second field goal of the game. Later in the quarter an Auburn punt was downed at the Alabama 1-yard line. McCarron then threw a 99-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper, giving Alabama a 28–21 lead with 10:28 remaining in the game. It was the longest pass play in Crimson Tide football history. With 2:41 left in the game, and trailing 28–21, Auburn drove to the Alabama 39 in six plays.
Final 32 seconds
With 32 seconds remaining, the Tigers scored on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Marshall to Sammie Coates. On the ensuing possession, with seven seconds left in the game, Alabama ran to Auburn's 38-yard line as T. J. Yeldon was knocked out of bounds by Chris Davis while the game clock expired. But Saban argued that Yeldon had stepped out of bounds with one second left in regulation. Saban's argument was validated by the instant replay officials, who put one second back on the clock. Rather than take a knee and go to overtime, Alabama attempted to win the game with a 57-yard field goal and Auburn took a timeout. Auburn's defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson, doubted Alabama would make the long field goal and suggested that a defensive back stand in the end zone with the potential to return a missed field goal. Malzahn then put punt returner Chris Davis in the end zone for the return. As the field goal attempt fell short, Davis fielded the ball nine yards deep in the end zone and ran down the sideline. With Alabama's field goal unit being made up mostly of offensive linemen, Davis ran all the way to the end zone to win the game 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. However, he was only credited with 100 yards; unlike the NFL, the NCAA does not count yardage inside the end zone for kick returns.
- 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 game to the legendary Miracle on Ice, equating Auburn's upset of Alabama to the amateur USA hockey team defeating the powerhouse Soviet Union team during the 1980 Winter Olympics. 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!") 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!' Chris Davis just ran it 109 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 not only ended Alabama's bid for a third straight national title, but vaulted Auburn to third in the BCS standings. The Tigers beat Missouri 59-42 in the SEC Championship Game. After #2 Ohio State's defeat by Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game later that same day, following the SEC Championship, Auburn moved into second place and secured a place in the BCS National Championship Game, losing to the Florida State Seminoles 34–31. Auburn's loss ended the SEC's streak of seven national championships. Auburn's Gus Malzahn won the SEC Coach of the Year award and received a six-year contract extension worth $3.85m per year. Alabama's AJ McCarron and Auburn's Tre Mason were 2013 Heisman Trophy finalists, but the award was won by Florida State QB Jameis Winston. In the postseason, Alabama lost 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." The website "Sports on Earth" ranked the Kick Six game third in their list of the best college football games of all time.
Naming the game
After the game, the press identified Alabama's Achilles' heel: the kicking game. In reference to their four unsuccessful field goal attempts, writers called the game "Kick Bama Kick," in reference to the 1972 Iron Bowl, nicknamed "Punt Bama Punt". At 6:43 p.m., just 18 minutes after of the conclusion of the game, Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News posted an article titled "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".
The term "Kick Six" is also used, in general, to refer to other instances of blocked or missed field goals being returned for a touchdown, such as one occurring in an NFL game on November 30, 2015, as performed by the Baltimore Ravens against the Cleveland Browns.
Nominations and awards
At the 2014 ESPY Awards, recognizing the greatest achievements in 2013, the 2013 Iron Bowl won the award for "Best Game". The other two nominees were Game Five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals and the Indianapolis Colts first round playoff victory.
Cremated human remains were discovered on the field inside Jordan-Hare Stadium by Auburn's grounds crew the Monday following the game.
During the post-game celebration on Pat Dye Field, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn's visor was stolen by a 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.
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- Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans - Recap - December 07, 2013 - ESPN
- 2013 NCAA College Football Polls and Rankings for Week 16 - ESPN
- Tre Mason of Auburn , Michael Sam of Missouri earn SEC top honors - ESPN
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- 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
- on YouTube 2013 Auburn IMG Sports Network Rod Bramblett commentary of Chris Davis' touchdown return to end the 2013 Iron Bowl on YouTube
- on YouTube Replay of the 2013 Iron Bowl
- ESPN box score of the 2013 Iron Bowl