2013 Auburn Tigers

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Biggest 180s: Auburn goes from SEC basement to national title game in 2013

Scott McLaughlin
October 21, 2019 - 12:05 pm

In 2012, just two years after winning the national championship, the Auburn Tigers football program suffered its worst season in 60 years, going 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC, resulting in head coach Gene Chizik being fired after the season.

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But in 2013, in its first season under new head coach Gus Malzahn, Auburn pulled off a remarkable 180, winning the SEC and returning to the national championship game.

The Tigers began the season unranked and remained that way until mid-October, when they went into College Station and beat No. 7 Texas A&M, led by Johnny Manziel, 45-41 to improve to 6-1.

Auburn closed out the regular season with eight straight wins, capped off by a pair of unbelievable finishes at home against Georgia and archrival Alabama.

Against Georgia, the Tigers seemed doomed as they found themselves in a 4th & 18 situation deep in their own territory trailing 38-37 with just 36 seconds to go. Quarterback Nick Marshall chucked a ball deep down field into double coverage, but instead of just knocking the ball down, the Georgia safety tried to intercept the pass and inadvertently deflected it right into the hands of Auburn’s Ricardo Louis, who then ran into the end zone for a game-winning 73-yard touchdown.

Somehow, the ending of the Iron Bowl two weeks later was even crazier. Tied at 28-28, Alabama opted to try for a 57-yard game-winning field goal with one second left. The kick came up short, with Auburn’s Chris Davis fielding it right at the back of the end zone. Davis returned the kick, got a few key blocks, barely stayed in bounds running up the sideline, and took it 109 yards the other way to give the Tigers a 34-28 win that clinched the SEC West.

Auburn then beat Missouri 59-42 in the SEC Championship Game before falling to undefeated Florida State and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston in the BCS National Championship Game, 34-31.

While the dream season didn’t quite get the dream ending, Auburn’s turnaround from 2012 to 2013 was one of the biggest 180s in college football history.


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