|78th Iron Bowl|
|Date||November 30, 2013|
|Favorite||Alabama by 10|
|United States TV coverage|
|Announcers||Verne Lundquist (play-by-play)|
Gary Danielson (color)
Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
The Kick Six (also known as Kick Bama Kick) 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 the 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). The game had significant postseason implications, with both teams ranked in the top 5 and a berth in the SEC Championship Game and, potentially, the national championship game at stake. However, this game was particularly notable for its ending.
After falling behind in the 2nd quarter and then again in the 4th, Auburn rallied late to tie the game at 28–28 with 32 seconds remaining. After the ensuing kickoff, Alabama quickly moved to the Auburn 38-yard line, at which point the clock ran out, seemingly sending the game to overtime. Alabama coach Nick Saban challenged the timekeeping call, and after a video review, one second was put back on the clock, and the Crimson Tide lined up for a potential game-winning 57-yard field goal. The kick was short, and Auburn's Chris Davis, who had been positioned near the goal line, caught the ball just in front of the goal posts. Davis ran across the entire field through players from both teams to the opposite end zone, improbably scoring the winning touchdown for Auburn on the last play of the game. Though the runback was technically about 109 yards, it is officially considered a 100-yard return according to NCAA rules, and it 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, making it the most watched regular season game of 2013 and one of the most watched regular season games of all time. Some sportswriters have argued that Davis' return is the single greatest moment in college football history. At the 2014 ESPY Awards, it was named the best play and the best game of year in all of North American sports.
Following the game, Alabama would play in the Sugar Bowl, falling to Oklahoma 45-31. Auburn would go onto to play in the BCS National Championship, where they would lose to Florida State 34-31.
The football programs representing the University of Alabama and Auburn University first met in 1893. The two in-state foes would develop a rivalry (nicknamed the Iron Bowl) that is considered by many to be the greatest in all of college football.
The two teams came into the 2013 season after very different 2012 seasons. Despite an upset at the hands of Texas A&M, Alabama 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 cementing themselves as a dynasty under head coach Nick Saban. 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–their second consecutive blowout loss on the Iron Bowl. Head coach Gene Chizik was fired in favor of Arkansas State coach and former Auburn offensive coordinator 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 (Texas A&M) by more than 10 points. Auburn, on the other hand, entered the season unranked and did not 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 on the road to beat No. 7 Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel. With that win, Auburn surged all the way to No. 11 in both major polls.
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, making it only the second matchup in the rivalry to feature two Top 5 teams, and the highest-ranked Iron Bowl ever. It was also the first Iron Bowl in which both teams were playing for a berth to the SEC Championship. Alabama was also undefeated in the previous 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, perceived unstoppable offense, and 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.
The game began with Auburn's Cody Parkey kicking off to Alabama's Christion Jones, who returned the kick to the Alabama 24. On the games first drive, Alabama drove to the Auburn 36-yard line, before T.J. Yeldon was stopped on 3rd and 2. Cade Foster then attempted 44-yard field goal for the Tide, but narrowly missed wide left. Auburn's opening drive netted 20 yards and no points with Ricardo Louis dropping a difficult deep pass on 3rd down forcing the Tigers to punt. Alabama was then held to seven yards, going three-and-out. After getting the ball back, Auburn's offense moved down the field with a seven-play, 66-yard drive capped off by a 45-yard touchdown run by Nick Marshall. It was the Tigers' first offensive touchdown against Alabama since 2010. On their next drive, Alabama went three and out and was forced to punt. Auburn's offensive spark would prove to be short lived as the Tigers gained just 8 yards on the ensuing drive and were forced to punt. The quarter ended with Auburn leading 7–0.
Following a slow start in the first quarter, Alabama stormed back quickly with a 11 play, 67-yard touchdown drive ending with an A.J. McCarron touchdown pass to tie the game 7-7. On the ensuing drive, Landon Collins forced a fumble, giving the Tide the ball back with favorable field position. Alabama would capitalize on the turnover with McCarron, throwing his second touchdown pass of the quarter, this time to Kevin Norwood to make the score 14-7. The Tigers woes continued on the following drive, losing 9 yards, going three and out and punting the ball back to the Tide. Alabama would only need 5 plays to drive the length of the field with T.J. Yeldon scoring on a 1 yard rush to move the score to 21-7 in favor of Alabama, and make it 21 consecutive points for the Tide. On the following drive, the Auburn offense came back to life with a 40 yard Tre Mason rush sparking 81-yard drive culminating in a touchdown run by Mason to cut the deficit to 21-14 in favor of Alabama 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 on a C.J. Uzomah touchdown reception. The teams then exchanged punts before Alabama drove 88 yards to Auburn's 11-yard line at the end of the quarter.
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. On the next drive Auburn faced a 4th and 1 on their own 35 yard line and elected to go for it. On 4th down, Marshall kept the ball on a read-option play but was stuffed, and Auburn turned the ball over on downs. Alabama started the following drive with great field position, and was soon faced with a 4th and 1 on the Auburn 13-yard line. Despite it being a short field goal attempt, Nick Saban decided to go for it on 4th down, likely due to the two missed field goals by Cade Foster earlier in the game. On the 4th down try, Yeldon was stuffed at the line of scrimmage by true freshman defensive end Carl Lawson and Alabama, like Auburn on the previous drive turned the ball over on downs. Auburn started the next drive deep in their own territory and following a sack were faced with a 3rd and 19. On 3rd down, Ricardo Louis broke free downfield, but Marshall's pass was slightly overthrown falling incomplete off the tips of Louis's fingertips forcing the Tigers to punt. Following a 25 yard punt return by Christion Jones, Alabama once again started a drive deep in Auburn territory, this time at the 25-yard line. Just like on their previous drive, Alabama would fail to capitalize on the field position, going 3 and out before Foster had his 44 yard field goal blocked, making it his third missed field goal of the game. Auburn got the ball off of the blocked field goal with 2:41 left in the game, and trailing 28–21, before driving to the Alabama 39 in six plays.
With 32 seconds remaining, Nick Marshall scrambled to his left. As he was nearing the line of scrimmage, Alabama corner Ha Ha Clinton-Dix ran toward Marshall to try and make a tackle, leaving receiver Sammie Coates open; Marshall would see this and quickly tossed the ball to Coates just before crossing the line of scrimmage for a game tying 39-yard touchdown. 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. Saban would argue to the referees 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, this time with freshman Adam Griffith taking the kick instead of the struggling Foster, but before the kick, Auburn took a timeout. Auburn's defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson, doubted Alabama would make the long field goal and suggested that a speedy player stand in the end zone with the potential to return a missed field goal. Malzahn then put defensive back Chris Davis, who doubled as Auburn's punt returner, in the end zone for the return in the event of a miss. As the field goal attempt fell short, Davis fielded the ball nine yards deep in the end zone and ran down the left sideline. With Alabama's field goal unit being made up mostly of offensive linemen, Davis ran all the way to the opposite end zone as time expired to win the game 34–28 and cause Auburn fans to storm the field. 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.
The crowd reaction during the games final play registered on seismographs across the state of Alabama, in a manner similar to activity registered during the 1988 Auburn–LSU "Earthquake Game".
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. Lundquist would later call the greatest sporting moment he ever witnessed.
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 gonna win the football game! AUBURN'S GONNA 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 gonna 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!
Bramblett's call of the final play is considered to be one of the greatest in recent sports history.
Auburn's win not only ended Alabama's bid for a third straight national title, but moves Auburn to third in the BCS standings. The Tigers beat Missouri 59–42 in the SEC Championship Game. After #2 Ohio State's loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game, Auburn moved into second place in the BCS and secured a place in the BCS National Championship Game, where they would ultimately lose to the Florida State Seminoles 34–31. Auburn's loss ended the SEC's streak of seven consecutive national championship victories. At the conclusion of the season, Auburn's Gus Malzahn would the SEC Coach of the Year award and received a six-year contract extension worth $3.85m per year. Alabama's A. J. McCarron and Auburn's Tre Mason were 2013 Heisman Trophy finalists with McCarron finishing 2nd and Mason finishing 6th.
Following the game, some sportswriters began describing the game as among the greatest in college football history, with Davis's returns being one of the sports greatest moments. Pat Forde, then a columnist for Yahoo Sports, stated that:
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. In 2015, college football fans voted the final play the greatest in college football history.
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. The game-winning touchdown return was named "Best Play" at the 2014 ESPYs. The play beat three other nominees including Auburn's Prayer at Jordan Hare against Georgia.
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. In the years following the game, the Kick Six has been the most enduring name for the game.
The term "Kick Six" has since been used 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. The term is a play on the term "pick six", which refers to an interception being returned for a touchdown.
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