Auburn Tigers 43, Georgia Bulldogs 38: A Magical Game Keeps Both Divisions in Play

Scott Cunningham

A Hail Mary ripples throughout the SEC, keeping South Carolina alive in the East (for now) and making the Iron Bowl a seismic game in the West

What do you want to talk about when it comes to this game? The huge stakes and the impact that rippled across the SEC? The sizable lead that Auburn built early? The surprise comeback as Georgia stormed back to make a game of it? Or the tipped pass that salvaged Auburn's hopes in the SEC West and might have reshaped the East as well?

Because all of them were stories in this game. All of them were part of the drama that wasn't completely over until Aaron Murray's pass hit the turf to end Georgia's last-gasp drive. And all of them have to do with what made this perhaps the most compelling game so far in an SEC season that has been full of can't miss contests.

It started about as poorly as it could for Georgia, with Auburn taking a 27-7 lead late in the second quarter. There were bad calls -- some on both sides, but seeming to sting the Dawgs more -- and a Georgia defense that seemed to have no answer for what the Tigers were doing. By the time Georgia kicked a field goal at the end of the half to make it 27-10, it seemed like they were lucky to even be in the game.

But Georgia wasn't done yet. The Dawgs began a second half comeback with a touchdown on their first drive to make the game a little close. Auburn answered that with 10 points on their next two drives.

And that was all that the Tigers could seem to manage for almost the rest of the game. Aaron Murray took over, orchestrating three touchdown drives in less than 10 minutes, the last one finished on a five-yard plunge that was upheld after a review that showed it to be extraordinarily close. Suddenly, Georgia led by one with less than two minutes on the clock. Auburn was going down and taking South Carolina's SEC East hopes with it.

The end seemed like a formality when Nick Marshall took the snap on 4th-and-18, the ball on his own 27-yard line. Then, he uncorked the pass and -- I like to think I'm a good writer, but there's no way to describe what happened next:

Tigerswin_medium
via SB Nation

Georgia didn't die easily -- the Dawgs drove down to the Auburn 20 before the game finally came to an end -- but even the best of games sees the clock finally strike 0:00. And with that, Georgia becomes the latest winner of the one-time barometer South Carolina-Georgia game to miss out on the SEC Championship Game. The question is whether the win will throw the SEC East to South Carolina if the Gamecocks can manage to defeat Florida. (Right now, South Carolina's losing.)

For Auburn, the improbable win keeps their SEC West hopes very much alive. The Tigers have two weeks to prepare for an Iron Bowl that will decide the division and will likely determine whether Alabama will go to Atlanta with a chance at the national championship on the line. There might be a little bit of publicity surrounding that game.

And perhaps it will find some way to outdo Saturday's game. But color me dubious. It takes importance and a kind of volatility to create a classic like the one Auburn just won. The importance will be there two weeks from now on the Plains, but only if we're very lucky will the game pack the same kind of drama.

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