Auburn chases more magic in title game

Sat Jan 4, 2014 7:23pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One of the biggest questions looming ahead of Monday's crunch BCS National Championship game is whether the second-ranked Auburn Tigers can deliver one more moment of magic to upset favorites Florida State.

Improbably, the Tigers have earned themselves a shot at becoming U.S. college football's top team for a second time in four years, mainly because of their astonishing wins over Georgia and long-time rival Alabama in November.

Trailing 38-37 with just 36 seconds left in the final quarter against Georgia at their home Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 16, Auburn faced a fourth-and-18 on their 27-yard line and decided to run a play called Little Rock.

Quarterback Nick Marshall tossed the ball 60 yards toward his speedy receiver Ricardo Louis but it carried longer than expected, seemingly destined to be caught by one of two Georgia safeties - Josh Harvey-Clemons or Tray Matthews.

Against the odds, Harvey-Clemons and Matthews collided as they soared upwards and the ball, bouncing off Harvey-Clemons' hand, was snapped up by Louis who powered across the goal line for the winning score to spark thunderous roars from the fans.

Two weeks later, the Tigers and top-ranked Crimson Tide were tied at 28-28 in their Iron Bowl showdown with just one second left in the fourth quarter, and overtime appeared to be on the cards as Alabama attempted a 57-yard field goal.

Their kicker, Adam Griffith, was short with his effort and Auburn senior safety Chris Davis, after catching the ball near the back of the end zone, shimmied right before veering left.

With virtually every Auburn blocker sprinting to the left sideline to form a protective wall and Alabama slow to react, Davis took full advantage as he surged past a few half-hearted tackles before crossing the end zone to score.   Continued...

January 4, 2014; Newport Beach, CA, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) speaks with media at the Newport Beach Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports