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Auburn's miracle return wins Iron Bowl

John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Chris Davis returned a missed field goal for the winning score in Auburn's Iron Bowl victory.The “Iron Bowl to end all Iron Bowls” certainly lived up to the hype with perhaps one of the most memorable endings in college football history. Chris Davis returned a missed field goal for the winning touchdown with no time remaining to give Auburn the 34-28 victory, ending Alabama’s perfect season and sending the Tigers to the SEC Championship game next weekend.

This game was already billed as one of the most important in the long history of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, as it marked the second time that the teams met as AP top-5 foes, the first time meeting as BCS top-5 opponents, and was the first Iron Bowl in which the winner would clinch the SEC West and the division’s bid to the SEC Championship Game.

Davis trumped all of that history with his miracle touchdown run, just the second time he has reached the end zone in his career. His other score was an 85-yard punt return touchdown vs Tennessee earlier this year in a game that was also tied at the time (13-13).

Deja vu for Alabama?

For Alabama, this loss may have a familiar feeling to it. The Tide are now 7-5 in November games vs FBS teams since 2010, and 34-1 in August, September and October during that span. The only other time Alabama lost as the BCS No. 1 team with two weeks or less left in the regular season was exactly five years ago today, when the Tide lost to No. 4 Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship game.

However the BCS No. 1 or No. 2 losing this late in the season is not unprecedented. It had happened 12 previous times before Saturday but not since Florida in 2009. Only two of those teams to lose went on to make the BCS National Championship game – Oklahoma in 2003 and LSU in 2007.

Alabama Rushing Defense
This Season

Auburn runs over Alabama

Besides the missed field goal and the return for a touchdown, the biggest key to victory for Auburn was its ability to exploit Alabama’s fourth-ranked rushing defense.

The Tigers rushed for 296 yards, the most allowed by the Tide since November 19, 2011, when they gave up 302 to Georgia Southern, and the most by an SEC team since Arkansas had 301 rush yards in 2007.

The Tigers were successful in getting to the edges against the Tide, gaining 150 of those 296 yards outside the tackles. Alabama entered the game allowing an SEC-low 43.9 rushing yards per game outside the tackles, with no opponent gaining more than 81 such yards in any game.

Auburn also controlled the line of scrimmage, averaging 4.2 yards before contact per rush, nearly three yards more than Alabama’s SEC-best 1.5 yards before contact per rush allowed entering this game.

Who's No. 1

With Alabama’s loss, Florida State is now poised to take over the No. 1 spot in the BCS rankings. The last time Florida State was the BCS No. 1 was 1999, which is also the last time the Seminoles won the national title.