Auburn Tigers Become National Championship Contenders After Wild Win





With 36 seconds to go in the game and facing a fourth-and-18 from their own 27, it appeared that the Auburn Tigers were going to lose 38-37 to the Georgia Bulldogs, effectively ending their SEC and BCS Title hopes. But then on the ensuing play, Nick Marshall tossed up a ball that was destined for three opposing defenders before finding its way into the hands of wide receiver Ricardo Louis for a 73-yard touchdown. And just like that, Auburn took a lead they would not relinquish, and showed that at the very least, the big man upstairs is on their side.

But while the game-winning pass on Saturday was a thing of miracles, the way that Auburn has been able to manage other victories throughout 2013 has been of their own doing. Victories over Texas A&M, Ole Miss and now Georgia prove that the team knows how to win against the big boys, with a dominant rushing attack and tough defense leading the way.

On the offensive side of things, Auburn has been led by arguably the best rushing attack in college football, led by running back Tre Mason and Marshall. The two rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday, bringing their combined total for the season to an eye popping 1,976 yards and 26 touchdowns. These contributions have led the way for the team to rush for 320 yards per game — a total that ranked third in the nation prior to Saturday, and a unit they will continue to rely on despite one game-changing pass.

Meanwhile on the defensive side of the ball, Auburn features a balanced attack of pass rushers and ball hawks that has made life difficult on every quarterback they’ve faced. On Saturday, this was Aaron Murray, who was harassed throughout the day and forced him to throw one interception, although he did find things to be a bit easier in the second half. While the unit is not quite as dominant as their offensive brethren, they compete as hard as any group in the country.

With a game up on Nov. 30 against vaunted rivals Alabama, there is no doubting that Auburn has a big obstacle in front of them if they want to first compete in the SEC Title game and then the BCS Title game. But after watching their miraculous victory on Saturday and seeing how they have rolled through impressive teams with two solid units in 2013, there is no doubting they are at least in the national title conversation already.

Tyler Leli is a Washington Capitals writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or join his network on Google.

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