Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Rivalry Saturday of All Rivalry Saturdays

Holy mother of football gods. Rivalry. Saturday.

I don't even know what to say or where to start. Both of my teams played in their big rivalry games yesterday, and they were arguably two of the biggest games ever played for each of the respective rivalries.

Let's start with Michigan vs. Ohio State. While there was the 2006 No. 1 OSU vs. No. 2 Michigan matchup that had National Championship implications that was obviously a 'bigger game', this one turned into an instant classic pretty quickly. Michigan, who everyone assumed was going to get demolished by Ohio State, held the lead until OSU took over 28-21 in the 3rd quarter. Then it was 35-21, then 35-28, then 35-35. Then it was 42-35 Ohio State, with just under 3 minutes left on the clock (incase you were wondering, the over/under on this game was 58). Then, the unthinkable happened for Michigan fans across the country: we successfully completed a 2-minute drill and scored a touchdown with :32 left in the game.

The question of the day became very clear, very quickly: extra point to go into OT or 2-point conversion to win it? With Michigan's 1st-string kicker Brandon Gibbons out with an injury and all  of the implications of the Michigan/OSU rivalry on the line, Brady Hoke made the call: we were going for two.

I was standing in my kitchen, legitimately holding my breath & looking in-between my fingers because I couldn't bring myself to watch eyes wide open. And just like that, it was over. Devin Gardner threw to Dileo and it was intercepted in the end zone. People questioned Brady's play call, but most people seemed to agree that you play to win:


Either way, it was the most heartbreaking way to go.

Or so I thought.

This year, Michigan vs. Ohio State was just that for us: the rivalry game at the end of the season. For Ohio State it meant more, like impressing the voters to keep their spot in the BCS polls, and to stay alive for BCS National Championship hopes. But as much as I truly believe that Michigan/Ohio State is the best rivalry in college sports and possibly in all of sports, our game's implications had basically nothing on the implications of the No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Auburn game that started immediately after.

That game started out with a bang as well. Alabama's kicker Cade Foster missed his second FG attempt all season, and Auburn took the first lead with a touchdown, but before the Tigers knew what hit them, Alabama scored 21 unanswered points and ended up taking the lead into the locker room 21-14 at the half. Auburn came out of the locker room and made it 21-21 to end the 3rd quarter, and then legitimately, all hell broke loose.

A minute into the fourth quarter, Cade Foster missed his second field goal of the night, which is more than he has missed the entire season (prior to tonight, he was 11 for 12 attempts). Auburn had a non-scoring drive and punted the ball to Alabama's one yard line, where AJ McCarron proceeded to throw a bomb to Amari Cooper, who caught it for a total of 99 yards and a touchdown. After that, there was no more scoring until the last minute of the game (Cade Foster ended up missing a 3rd field goal that was blocked late in the 4th quarter).

Very reminiscent of the Michigan/OSU game, with :32 left on the clock, Auburn scored a game-tieing touchdown that had everyone in Jordan-Hare Stadium thinking this Iron Bowl was going into overtime, including SportsCenter:


But wait. Alabama had the ball and after TJ Yeldon rushed for 24 yards, he ran out of bounds with what ended up being :01 left on the clock (after further review). Instead of throwing a Hail Mary pass down the field (they were marked at the Auburn 38 yard line), Saban sent out freshman backup kicker Adam Griffith, who had two field goal attempts to his name (one of which he had missed), to attempt a 57-yard field goal to win the game. What? WHAT?! The only logical explanation for that is the kid was kicking 60 yards consistently in practice so that there was no chance of it getting caught to be returned even if it was wide left/right. But that clearly wasn't the case here! You wouldn't believe what happened even if I told you, so just watch:



Summary: the kick was short, Auburn's Chris Davis caught it in the end zone, and then ran it to THE OTHER END ZONE for a 109-yard touchdown to win the game 34-28. I was screaming in my room watching the game not even because Alabama was about to lose, but because it was literally the most incredible way I've ever seen a football game end. Ever. In the history of all games I've watched. This game was actually the definition of 'it's not over until the clock says :00". Still at a loss for words.


Both of my teams lost today in last-minute, gut-wrenching plays, but holy hell were both of them amazing games to watch. What a Rivalry Saturday to end the 2013 regular season. And as always, forever GO BLUE.

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