Auburn's All-Decade Offense vs. All-Decade Defense: Who wins?
In a perfect world, we’d see a clash of Auburn’s 2010s titans.
Like, in this perfect world, we’d get to see every one of the Tigers’ 2010s All-Decade players face off at their peaks. That means Nick Fairley wouldn’t be dealing with a heart condition and Cam Newton’s shoulder would be intact. Gene Chizik and Kevin Steele would coach the defense while Gus Malzahn would coach the offense.
In a perfect world, we’d watch these all-time great Auburn players square off at their peak at Jordan-Hare. What a world that would be.
Well, guess what: I created that world.
Let’s pretend that we could watch this actually play out. Here’s what would happen:
Obviously the Cam-Tre Mason combination is unstoppable early
I’d hate to be another skill player in this offense. Let’s just say this is not a game in which the receivers are busy. At least I wouldn’t expect them to be.
The name of the game is getting 1st downs and keeping the defense on the field. If you think that Malzahn isn’t feeding Newton and Mason 20 touches apiece in this one, well, you’re bonkers. Slowly but surely, they break off chunks of yardage. Seven yards here, 3rd-and-1 conversion there. Soon, pay dirt. Newton flashes the Superman celebration and the Auburn faithful goes wild. Newton finishes a pair of opening drives with Super Cam leaps into the end zone. But instead of kicking extra points, Auburn goes for 2 and gets it both times. On the 2nd 2-point conversion, Newton runs a play-action rollout and hits Philip Lutzenkirchen in the backside flat. Quickly on the video board, they cue up the replay of him scoring that touchdown in the legendary 2010 Iron Bowl.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 22, 2016
This time, however, it’s not a Camback. It’s an early rout.
Well, until Chizik and Steele and make the right adjustments …
Auburn’s defense battles back
After allowing a pair of touchdowns to start, it looks like Newton is ready to run away with it after getting the offense to the 25-yard line. But after Fairley stops Mason for a 2-yard loss on 2nd down, 3rd-and-8 forces Newton to go to the air.
It’s an RPO quick slant to Ryan Davis. But instead of letting the Auburn all-time possession receiver haul in a pass at the 1st-down marker, Jamel Dean gets a hand in front of it and tips it into the air. Boom. Pick-6 for Rudy Ford. A sign of life for the defense.
What happens from there is the back and forth that we all expected. Just when it looks like the defense has all the momentum with Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson knifing their way into the backfield, Newton storms back with a key play of his own.
The fireworks aren’t lacking in this one, at all. Following the Ford pick-6, Auburn has 2 additional turnovers. One comes via a strip sack from Davidson, the next of which is Tre Williams forcing a fumble after a Darvin Adams catch. But Newton catches the secondary peaking in the backfield and he hits Darius Slayton and “Big-play Sammie” Coats for over-the-top touchdown catches of 45 and 64 yards, respectively.
In a tie game with 1 second left, it all comes down to …
… a Daniel Carlson field goal from 57 yards. Newton led the offense to the 40-yard line, but came up empty on a pivotal 3rd-and-6 that would have allowed the offense to get a more favorable field goal attempt for Carlson.
There are worse people to turn the game over to. After all, Carlson is the SEC’s all-time leading scorer. Even better, he’s 13-for-21 on field goals of 50-plus yards, which is good for 2nd in NCAA history. The dude is as close to a lock as there is. Well, at least in terms of college kickers.
Newton is kneeling on the sideline, just as he was during the 2010 BCS National Championship. This, however, is no chip shot. It’ll take the best kick of Carlson’s career to send the offense home with a win (his career long is 56 yards).
The late Rod Bramblett has the call:
“It’ll be a 57-yard attempt from Carlson. He’s hit plenty of clutch kicks before, but never one of this length…
“Wait a minute! There’s Chris Davis sprinting out onto the field for Auburn. There’s no way, right?
“Well, I guess if this thing comes up short he can field it, and run it out.
“All right, here we go…57-yarder…It’s got…No, it does not have the leg.
“Chris Davis takes it in the back of the end zone. He’ll run it out to the 10…
“There goes Davis! Davis is going to run it all the way back! The Auburn defense is going to win the football game!
“Auburn’s defense is going to win the football game!
“He ran the missed field goal back! He ran it back 109 yards!
Because why would it end any other way?