No. 2 Alabama returns to scene of Auburn's Kick-Six
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Thousands stormed the field at Auburn, blanketing it from goal line to goal line with a giddy mass of orange and blue.
Alabama left that scene at Jordan-Hare Stadium two years ago with its shot at a third straight national championship squashed by one unforgettable Iron Bowl play: The Kick-Six. The second-ranked Crimson Tide returns to Auburn Saturday for the first time since Chris Davis ran back Adam Griffith's missed field goal 109 yards on the final play.
Auburn celebrated, Alabama mourned. Both remember.
''It's in the back of my mind,'' Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland said. ''I know I remember being on the sideline, me and Landon (Collins) beside each other and just watching the guy run down the field. You just drop your helmet and just walk off the field in disbelief and you're sad.
''You look in the eyes of some of the seniors and you see them crying in the locker room and stuff like that. That hurts your feelings, knowing that you didn't do your job enough to get the win for them. So we gotta come out and we gotta do our job and gotta try to get this win.''
Both teams were ranked in the Top 5 and nursing national title hopes in that 2013 game. Auburn rode that Davis return - and a Hail Mary against Georgia two weeks earlier - to a Southeastern Conference championship and a BCS title shot.
The Davis runback was only the fourth such play recorded by the NCAA and one of college football's most memorable endings, made even more so by the magnitude of the game in a traditional rivalry that's talked about year round in the state even after much less eventful meetings.
Images from that one especially endure, joining the ranks of the named games like ''Punt Bama Punt'' in 1972 and ''Wrong Way Bo'' in 1984. In the first one, Auburn's David Langner, who died in 2014, returned two punts blocked by Bill Newton for touchdowns in the final minutes of a 17-16 win for Alabama's first loss.
In the second, 1985 Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson missed his block for Brent Fullwood by going left instead of right as he was supposed to. `Bama stopped Fullwood shy of the goal line on fourth down.
Then there's Kick-Six, which forged equally indelible memories and images. Those include Auburn offensive lineman Avery Young's stunned expression captured on video after Davis's return when Griffith's kick fell short.
''The fact that it's blowing up like it is right now, they're probably showing it on TV as we speak,'' Young said this week. ''It's cool. I think they show my expression more than they show the actual kick. Chris Davis made that happen, I was just on the sidelines shocked. It was a great experience.''
This meeting doesn't have nearly the allure of that one when so much was on the line for both teams. Alabama (10-1, 6-1, No. 2 CFP) still has all the same stakes, while Auburn (6-5, 2-5) has struggled.
Alabama players offer mixed reviews of whether that play is motivation. The teams already produced more excitement in last season's 55-44 Tide win that stands as the highest scoring of the 79 previous Iron Bowls.
Tide cornerback Cyrus Jones said he doesn't think about the play much - until the inevitable questions start coming on that final week of the regular season.
''Obviously we know it happened, but it's in the past and I don't think that's going to be on our minds that much when we roll into Jordan-Hare on Saturday,'' Jones said.
It is a reminder, though, of what can go wrong - and right - at the end of games. The stadium's public address announcer had already declared the game headed to overtime at 28-28. Then Alabama got 1 second restored and one more play after a review of a T.J. Yeldon run to the Auburn 39.
In came Griffith, then a backup and now a starter who's made a 55-yarder this season.
''I just kind of walked off the field,'' Tide center Ryan Kelly said. ''That's all I want to talk about it. It wasn't a great feeling. A lot of guys on this team were there then. You definitely don't forget something like that.''