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Ball tips Auburn's way in win over Georgia

Nick Marshall's Hail Mary pass is tipped by Georgia defender Josh Harvey-Clemons and caught by Auburn's Ricardo Louis, who runs 73 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

November 16, 2013|Chris Dufresne

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Remember Saturday if Auburn goes on to beat Alabama and then wins the national title.

Remember the throw, the tip and the catch.

Remember how it never should have happened.

Remember that Auburn improved to 10-1 on a Hail Mary that rivals Doug Flutie's heave on the day after Thanksgiving in 1984.

I was standing in the end zone for that incredible Boston College pass, at the Orange Bowl, to beat Miami.

The headline in the L.A. Times the next day read: "Boston College's Flutie Lets It Fly for 47-45 Victory."

I know because that laminated front page hangs on my office wall.

It may get some company after Auburn's Nick Marshall "Let One Fly" on the plains of Alabama.

I wasn't there for this one but thank goodness CBS was.

Hard as it was to believe, Auburn defeated Georgia, 43-38, at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

It took one of the most improbable plays in the history of college football.

Georgia had Auburn pinned fourth and 18 on its own 27 in the waning seconds when Marshall made his heave into history.

The ball was so woefully underthrown two Georgia defenders, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews, could have had a picnic before deciding which player would pick it off.

Instead, Harvey-Clemons tipped the ball away from Matthews into the waiting arms of Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis, who raced 73 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

Georgia (6-4) had fought back to take the lead on Aaron Murray's five-yard scoring run, on fourth down, with 1:49 left.

Georgia, which came five yards short of defeating Alabama in last year's Southeastern Conference title game, came up short again.

Auburn's improbable win sets up its home showdown in two Saturdays against Alabama.

Under first-year Coach Gus Malzahn, Auburn has gone from 3-9 to a national title contender.

Auburn finished 0-8 in SEC games last year.

These are the kind of victories that can define seasons and legacies.

You need skill and luck to win championships in college football, and Auburn, on Saturday, had both.

"He's got the 'it' factor," Malzahn said on CBS of Marshall, his quarterback. "He has the ability to make plays when others can't."

In this case, the "others" who couldn't played defense for Georgia.

What distraction?

Florida State improved to 10-0 with a crushing 59-3 defeat of Syracuse in Tallahassee.

The Seminoles led, 28-0, after one quarter and 38-0 at the half.

Quarterback Jameis Winston completed 19 of 21 passes in the first half for 277 yards and two touchdowns.

In the meantime, Florida's state attorney continued his investigation into a sexual assault complaint filed last December that may involve Winston.

The state just received the case this week from the Tallahassee Police Department.

"We're making interesting progress," state attorney William Meggs told ESPN.

Winston was not named in the complaint and hasn't spoken with authorities. If he is charged with a felony, however, he would immediately be ruled ineligible under Florida State rules.

Meggs said a decision on whether to file any charges could be made within two weeks.

This week's catch

No one, it seemed, was going to approach "catch of the year" in college football: Kodi Whitfield's remarkable grab in Stanford's 24-10 win over UCLA on Oct. 19.

Well, Whitfield may have to share co-honors with Central Florida receiver J. J. Worton after his reception against Temple.

Worton's catch tied the game at 36-all with 1:06 left and proved critical when Central Florida won on Shawn Moffitt's 23-yard field goal as time expired.

Interestingly, both great catches were right-handed grabs on 30-yard touchdown receptions.

Whitfield's catch was marginally more difficult because he was heavily defended by UCLA players.

Worton was wide open when he extended in the end zone to bring in Blake Bortles' overthrown pass.

Worton's catch helped No. 17 Central Florida avoid what would have been a huge upset against Temple, which fell to 1-9.

Urban and Woody

Ohio State's 60-35 win at Illinois was the team's 22nd straight victory.

That tied the school record for consecutive wins — and what a rush it was.

Carlos Hyde ran for 246 yards while quarterback Braxton Miller added 184. Ohio State (10-0) finished with 441 total rushing yards.

It took Urban Meyer, 22-0 as the Buckeyes' head coach, less than two years to tie a record that has stood for more than four decades.

Ohio State's last 22-game streak began with a win at Michigan State on Nov. 4, 1967, and extended through the 10-0 national title season of 1968.

The Buckeyes then won their first eight games of 1969 before getting shocked on Nov. 22 with a 24-12 loss at Michigan.

Woody Hayes, at the end of his life, said the 1969 squad was the best team he coached.

Ohio State's streak was halted by a Michigan team led by first-year coach Bo Schembechler, Hayes' former assistant.

Michigan intercepted six Ohio State passes that day.

ABC announcer Bill Fleming called it the "upset of the century."

It began a rivalry between the coaches that would be called "the 10-Year War."

According to the book "War as They Knew it," that 1969 game was so anticipated President Richard Nixon cut short a budget meeting so "he could watch some of the game in his office before heading to a dental appointment."

Watching Ohio State's win over Illinois on Saturday was more like a root canal, and the Buckeyes should have no problem getting their record-setting 23rd straight win next week against Indiana.

The Hoosiers were 51-3 losers Saturday to Wisconsin.

Which team has the earliest chance to end Ohio State's latest winning streak?

Well, of course, it would be the Michigan Wolverines.

Ohio State visits Ann Arbor on Nov. 30.

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