The Inaccurate Reception

Saturday’s game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers was undoubtedly the most dramatic game of college football (and quite possibly American football as a whole) I have seen and I’m sure it will be one that lives long in the memory. In terms of recent sporting drama, it was comparable with Game 6 of the 2011 World Series and Manchester City’s last day win in the 2011–12 Premier League. Just watching on television was nailbiting enough, so how it was for those in attendance, I can scarcely imagine.

The “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” was first contested in 1892 and has been renewed almost every year since, making it one of the most played rivalry games in college football. Auburn were looking to exact some revenge after losing the previous two meetings by a combined score of 83–7. As well as playing for regional pride and bragging rights, both teams needed to win in order to keep alive their hopes of winning their respective divisions.

Auburn stamped their authority on the game early on as they continued to run the football effectively, opening up a 27–10 lead by half-time. The second half proved to more even but the Tigers were still up 37–17 with 12:39 left on the clock. Cue the Georgia rally, led by quarterback Aaron Murray. Three successive touchdowns by the Bulldogs gave them a 38–37 lead with less than two minutes remaining, not to mention seemingly unstoppable momentum as Auburn struggled to put together a meaningful drive. A field goal might well have been enough to win it for the Tigers, but they were facing 4th down and 18 on their own 27-yard line, with only 36 seconds left.

And then… this happened:

Nick Marshall’s 73-yard pass to Ricardo Louis should by all rights have been batted down or intercepted, which would effectively have ended the game. Instead, Georgia, who were unable to score on their final drive, suffered their fourth loss of the season, while the 10–1 Tigers head into another big rivalry game on 30 November. Auburn will face in-state rival Alabama in the Iron Bowl, a game that will have divisional and conference consequences as well as national title implications.

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