There were some wild endings on Saturday. Here are the top three finishes of the day.
1. Auburn 43, Georgia 38
A Google search for “Auburn Georgia miracle” yields 7,390,000 results. They are calling Auburn’s improbable last-minute touchdown the Immaculate Deflection and the Prayer in Jordan-Hare. You can even buy a shirt diagramming the play.*
To say things were not looking good for Auburn after Nick Marshall was sacked to bring up 4th and 18 from the Auburn 27 is an understatement. With 36 seconds left and Auburn trailing by one, things didn’t look all that much better when Marshall heaved the ball downfield. Two Georgia defensive backs were waiting for the pass, which had sailed past its intended target, Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis.
With no play on the ball, Louis kept running, which worked out remarkably well for him when the Georgia defenders collided and dropped an easy interception, popping it up for Louis. As Louis explained to reporters after the game, it was pretty lucky: “I saw it once it got over my shoulder. It got tipped, I lost track of it … but when I looked over my shoulders, it was right there.”
This would be a ridiculous ending to any game, but it easily takes the top spot because of the significance: Auburn avoided a second loss, which would have eliminated it from SEC West contention.
*This website has some cool shirts/posters. Might make for some good holiday gifts for the sports fanatic on your list.
2. Michigan 27, Northwestern 19 (3 OT)
(Game-tying kick appears at 3:40)
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said, “It might be the best single play I’ve ever seen.” The stakes were not as high as the other games listed here—both teams are in the bottom half of Big Ten Legends Division—but I’ve never seen a field goal executed like this.
Down three and facing a 3rd and 23 from the Northwestern 43 with 18 seconds left, Devin Gardner completed a 16-yard pass to Jeremy Gallon. Gallon was tackled with 12 seconds left and from there the Wolverines—and the referees—didn’t waste a second. The offense rushed off the field; the field goal unit sprinted on. Holder Drew Dileo slid into place while kicker Brendan Gibbons shuffled backwards and then towards the ball without pausing.
The execution would have been incredible under any circumstances, but especially since it was a 44-yarder in the rain. And don’t overlook the refs, who moved with appropriate urgency. Wisconsin is wondering where this crew was for their game against Arizona State.
Michigan won in triple overtime, handing Northwestern yet another brutal loss. The Wildcats are 0-6 in the Big Ten; their season has plummeted since the close loss to Ohio State in early October. Their last four losses have been by either three points or in overtime. Last week they lost to Nebraska on a Hail Mary on the final play.
3. Central Florida 39, Temple 36
UCF, no stranger to close games this season, was expected to roll over Temple, which entered the game 1-8. Instead, the Knights found themselves down seven with two minutes left. Quarterback Blake Bortles completed passes of 20, 9, and 11 yards before rolling left and heaving a 30-yarder to J.J. Worton, who reeled in the pass for what may be the catch of the year. After punting on the ensuing possession, Temple somehow allowed a deep completion that set up the game-winning field goal as time expired. The win keeps UCF alone atop the American Athletic Conference and in line for an automatic BCS bowl bid.