5-at-10: Auburn's miracle, college football rewind and three questions

5-at-10: Auburn's miracle, college football rewind and three questions

November 18th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sportscolumns

Gang, how was your weekend? Anything happen that was exciting? Nope, didn't think so.

From the "Talks too much" studios, sweet buckets and show stoppers did that just happen? We're pretty lucky Verne didn't have a heart attack. Brick killed a guy.

Auburn's miracle

Georgia cornerback Damian Swann (5) breaks up a pass in the end zone intended for Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates (18) during their NCAA football game in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Wow.

Auburn got lucky. Georgia got lucky before that. It's football, and it's magical and maddening and mystifying.

By now everyone knows of Auburn's 43-38 win over Georgia that was punctuated by a 73-yard, tipped Hail Mary touchdown on fourth-and-18. If you haven't seen the replay, tough break about that 48-hour coma you caught. Hope that wears off.

It was the signature moment of a crazy ride on the Plains. It was the play that never should have been in the season that never could happen. Auburn is 10-1 with a week off before Alabama comes to town. Yes, the same bunch that was 3-9 and bagel-for-the-SEC last year.

And while the Bulldogs dodgeball nightmare that was Nick Marshall's heave that bounced off fighting UGA safeties and into the bobbled hands of Ricardo Louis for the miracle TD was impossible, it's the third time this season Auburn has had the ball down by three points or less with less than two minutes to play. In each occasion - at Texas A&M and vs. Mississippi State were the other two - Auburn scored a TD.

The play fizzled what would have been an epic Georgia comeback/Auburn meltdown. The Tigers led 37-17 before Aaron Murray started doing Aaron Murray things. His run on fourth down that was ruled a TD gave the Bulldogs a 38-37 lead.

It was the stage from which Georgia could have in some ways salvaged a disappointing, injury-ravaged year. It was the stage from which the Tigers could have cascaded, ending the storybook season in the game before the game of the year. It was the stage from which the Bulldogs' recent grip on the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry would have grown exponentially stronger considering the stakes for the hosts.

It was none of those stages, however. No, it was the stage from which the ultimate SEC stage is set. Now the Auburn dream takes a Saturday off, with the unthinkable dream of an Iron Bowl for all the marbles a fortnight away.

It's an impossible end to an impossible season for Auburn that now is possible because of an impossible play.

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College football rewind

Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis (5) makes the catches to score the game-winning touchdown as Georgia strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (25) looks on late in their NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2013. Auburn won 43-38.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

The Auburn-Georgia game was the college football story of the weekend. It was unbelievable. (And yes, we have watched the replay at least once, and the Marshall-to-Louis play is such a shocker, we're surprised when it happens even when we know it's going to happen.)

But that's hardly the only story line from a full Saturday in November. Let's do work.

- More times than not, the BCS has found a way to work its kinks out down the stretch. The traffic jam of title contenders meets an off-ramp of upsets and the field gets cleansed. That's looking a little doubtful this year. Here's what we know:

There currently are four major conference unbeatens - Alabama, FSU, THE Ohio State and Baylor. Alabama has UTC this week and top-10 dates at Auburn and in the SEC title game. Baylor has a trip to No. 10-ranked Oklahoma State this weekend. FSU and THE Buckeyes will continue their cream-puff carpet ride schedules into unbeaten bliss. (THE Ohio State has beaten one ranked team; FSU rolled at Clemson but the rest of its wins are against teams outside the top-25 and the Seminoles finish with Idaho, Florida and most likely Duke in the ACC title game.)

And for those of you thinking this would be the perfect year for a four-team playoff, we say, "What about No. 5 Oregon, which would likely be favored over every team in the country other than Bama on a neutral field?"

Crazy indeed.

- After losing at South Carolina - in a game in which South Carolina played about as bad as it can - Florida now has to win out against Georgia Southern and FSU to avoid its first losing season since 1979. What's the baseline number of wins Will Muschamp must get next year to save his gig? We'll set the over/under at 9. Thoughts?

- The Fab 4-plus-4-plus-1 picks went 5-4 last week. We're now 40-28-1 for the year. And yes, we're a little frustrated with the one step forward, one step backward entertainment accrual. So it goes.

Mocs defensive back Chaz Moore pumps up his fellow defensive backs before the loss against Samford on Saturday. Moore and his teammates must now wait to see if they get into the playoffs.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

- The Mocs suffered a tough loss Saturday, falling 17-14 in overtime at Samford. The injuries have taken a large toll on the UTC roster, but everyone fights injuries in November. It's football. It's a disappointing loss to be sure, but we know these two things to be fact: 1) Wes Dothard is a stud duck; 2) Losses that sting the most, in retrospect, are the ones that have the most on the line. And that the Mocs are playing meaningful games in November is a great thing. (That said, which team goes to its reserves more quickly Saturday, Alabama or UTC, which hardly can afford any more injuries with the playoffs looming?)

- And yes, the Mocs should be a playoff team.

- Has anything more negatively affected Lane Kiffin's already less-than-stellar reputation than the fact that after he got run, Ed Orgeron looks like Steve Spurrier by comparison? Wow, the Orgeron experience landed another big win when USC topped Stanford on Saturday night. Tell 'em about it JoJo.

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NFL rewind

Sunday was a crazy day in the NFL. The Windy City had a weather delay. Well, that's not that crazy.

Andre Ellington was tackled by his ponytail, Jason Babin pulling down the Cards running back by his dreadlocks. If those are extensions, we have to ask why? If those are not extensions, we have to ask, good gracious how bad did that hurt?

The Steelers have started playing like the Steelers and have moved back into the playoff picture. Of course if they continue to wear those brutally bad throwback uniforms with the stripes, that's a picture no one wants to see.

Tiger Woods

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

The Falcons really stink. That is all.

In a game so big Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn were on the sideline, the Denver Peytons outlasted the Kansas City Chiefs. That's not a shock, and the teams will reconvene in 13 days in Kansas City.

The Philadelphia Eagles won again on Sunday, taking over first place in the dreadful NFC East. So after a painful start to the season - the Riley Cooper mess, the injuries, et al. - Chip Kelly's team and offense are starting to click. Heck, his offense has turned Nick Foles into one of the league's leading MVP candidates not named Peyton Manning. It also attacks the notion about the zone read system succeeding or failing in the NFL. More on that below.

We're legitimately excited for tonight's Monday night game - Patriots-Panthers. More on that below.

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This and that

- Jimmie Johnson captured his sixth NASCAR points title. He enters next year as the favorite to win a record-tying seventh championship. Considering the competition and the challenges, we're prepared to say Jimmie Johnson is the best NASCAR driver ever. (Sorry, Dale.)

- Former LSU AD Joe Dean died this weekend. He was 83. And if you do not remember him as an administrator, you likely recall him as the college basketball broadcaster that coined the term "string music" and in a lot of ways was Dickie V before Dickie V, and without the screaming and kissing up to the coaches.

- UNC lost to Belmont. We're not prepared for a college sports landscape in which UNC hoops and Florida football are blah-tastic. They are two programs that, whether you like them or not, it's more fun when they are good because it gives you a vested interest pulling for or against them.

- Some D-III kid scored 109 points in a game this weekend. And amazingly it's 29 points short of his career best. Yep, Jack Taylor scored 109 for shot-happy Grinnell College in a 173-123 win over Crossroads. Taylor is averaging 90 points a game this season, and if he continues at that pace, it would be a record.

- Sounds like there were some seriously good high school football games in the area last Friday. We saw an awesome one as East Hamilton scored on a 53-yard pass with 16 seconds left for a 26-19 win over Ooltewah. Sounds like Signal played a barn-burner in a 38-37 loss to Knox Catholic, too.

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Today's question(s)

A ton of stuff to discuss today. In fact, we had to limit the questions. Here we go:

- What's your Rushmore of "Oh My Goodness" moments? Saturday's Auburn miracle is on our list for sure. Douglas dropping Tyson, too.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

- Is Jimmie Johnson the best ever?

- We mentioned before we are legit excited for tonight's Patriots-Packers game, and here's why: We think Cam Newton is in the top 10 among league quarterbacks and is behind only Andrew Luck in the next generation crop of guys who have been in the league three years or fewer. What's your top three of young NFL QBs (three years or fewer in the NFL)?

- And we'll ask it, if you are the Panthers front office, do you not consider hiring Gus Malzahn and teaming Malzahn and Newton together again? Or what about Kevin Sumlin, who's offense has made some three-star recruit/transfer named John Manziel into Johnny Flippin' Football for crying out loud? Chip Kelly's recent run of success - and the insane numbers of QBs running the zone read - could open a lot of doors for the offensive gurus for the NFL.

Discuss.