In the immediate aftermath of the 2013 Iron Bowl, it was kind of hard to put together coherent thoughts. In the manner the game ended, a 109-yard missed-field goal return by Chris Davis on the final play, everything leading up to that moment was forgotten. But, there were 59 minutes, 59 seconds of back-and-forth heavyweight-fight action before Davis' run into immortality. So, how did we get here?
52 rushes, 296 yards, 5.7 per carry
Auburn ran the ball on 76 percent of its offensive plays, which sounds pretty one dimensional. Going into the game, just about everyone said it would be impossible for a one-dimensional team to beat Nick Saban's Alabama. While the Tigers received a contribution from the passing game that certainly wasn't insignificant, it was pretty much all about the run all. Gus Malzahn never called any trick or gadget plays, and the offense more or less ran exactly what the Crimson Tide were expecting. And Auburn still gained nearly 300 yards on the nation's top rushing defense.
In the days before the game, one intrepid writer predicted that Auburn might not be able to run for 300 yards, but 200 would be a real possibility. Alabama fans laughed at that notion, but apparently we weren't giving the Tigers enough credit. Tre Mason (29 carries, 164 yards, one touchdown, 5.7 yards per carry) and Nick Marshall (17 carries, 99 yards, one touchdown, 5.8 yards per carry) were too much for the Tide.
11-of-16, 97 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
That was Marshall's final throwing line. If anyone knew Auburn would finish with fewer than 100 passing yards, would they have given the Tigers a chance? Probably not. But it was just enough to keep the Alabama defense honest. Marshal's first touchdown pass to C.J. Uzomah was perfection, fitting the ball between defenders on the sideline. His second was a great example of the quarterback's great decision-making in the option game. After gashing Alabama consistently on the zone read, the Crimson Tide defensive backs got aggressive, and Marshall flicked the ball to a wide-open Sammie Coates at the last possible moment, tying the game.
Auburn converted on 53 percent of its third-down opportunities. Alabama entered the game allowing opponents to convert just 31.5 percent of the time, second best in the SEC. The Tigers didn't have too many big plays against the Tide, and the ability to extend drives on third down was a necessity.
That was Alabama's third-down-conversion percentage. Just like the defense, the Tide offense was much worse on third downs than it had been all year. They were converting at a 49.2 percent clip, which was good for third in the conference. Plus, Alabama failed on a late fourth-and-1 play that could have put the Tigers away.
Everyone knows what that means. Alabama missed four field goals in a game that went down to the final play. It's awfully tough to win that way.
That's the number of combined punt- and kickoff-return yards Alabama had. That Auburn never allowed the Tide to make a huge play on special teams was a major factor in keep in the Tigers in the game. Alabama fans probably felt they had a special teams advantage in this game, but they were sorely mistaken.
Auburn had five tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hurries against the Tide. We always felt that Ellis Johnson would have to get aggressive on defense to avoid letting 'Bama grind the Tigers into dust, and he felt the same way. Auburn consistently brought extra pressure, and while it didn't always pay off, it kept A.J. McCarron and Alabama's running backs from getting too comfortable. Oh yeah, and the defensive line took over the game in the fourth quarter.
Steven Clark's average net yards per punt and number downed inside the 20. And of course, those two were downed at the 1-yard line. The second one didn't pay off, as McCarron hooked up with Amari Cooper for 99-yards on the next play, but the first forced the Tide to execute a long drive, and they couldn't finish.
In the boxscore, there's a stat labeled "miscellaneous yards." Auburn won that battle, 103-0. The final 100 of those came on the final play (even though it was really 109). War Damn Eagle.