No. 6 Auburn turns its attention to the Iron Bowl, No. 1 Alabama - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

No. 6 Auburn turns its attention to the Iron Bowl, No. 1 Alabama

Posted: Updated:
The Auburn Tigers couldn't help but ponder what's coming even in the midst of a wild celebration.(AP Photo/Opelika-Auburn News, Albert Cesare) The Auburn Tigers couldn't help but ponder what's coming even in the midst of a wild celebration.(AP Photo/Opelika-Auburn News, Albert Cesare)

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The Auburn Tigers couldn't help but ponder what's coming even in the midst of a wild celebration.

Even with an open date ahead. Even after a last-gasp win over Georgia. It's the Iron Bowl, after all, and an especially huge one.

The sixth-ranked Tigers barely cleared the last hurdle with a 43-38 win Saturday over the Bulldogs before turning their sights toward the game with No. 1 Alabama in two weeks. The winner plays for the Southeastern Conference title, and perhaps a shot at the national championship.

"Of course we're going to enjoy this win," tailback Tre Mason said afterward. "But we started thinking about it (the Alabama game) as soon as that clock hit all zeroes. Coach (Gus) Malzahn said, 'Onto the next,' in the locker room."

This one wasn't settled until the clock hit all zeroes, even after Auburn (10-1, 6-1 SEC) surged to a 27-7 lead. Ricardo Louis caught a desperation heave from Nick Marshall that deflected off Josh Harvey-Clemons' hand in double coverage. The result was a 73-yard touchdown on fourth-and-18 with 25 seconds left that will go down as one of the more memorable plays in SEC history.

Then it was onto the next for a team that Malzahn has led from 3-9 to being ranked sixth in the nation.

"This team, they're special," Malzahn said. "This is a special group. They've been through a lot, and they rallied. They came together. They believed in each other. They bought into the fact to get better each game, each practice. I told them before the game, I said, 'We've been building up to this moment.' Our moment was to be able to play these guys."

The next moment is significantly bigger. Georgia had hammered the Tigers two years running, but so has the Crimson Tide. Alabama won 42-14 two years ago and 49-0 last season and is seeking its fourth national title in five years.

The unbeaten Tide had a more mundane performance in a 20-7 win over Mississippi State that was the tightest margin Nick Saban's team has faced since Sept. 14, a 49-42 win over No. 9 Texas A&M. Alabama faces FCS team Chattanooga in a tuneup Saturday.

Malzahn joked after the game that it was "definitely a Waffle House night." But he said Sunday he planned to go to church "and after church I will flip the switch" from Georgia to Alabama.

"That one aged me," Malzahn said. "I've lost some years off my life."

This Auburn team has undergone a metamorphosis under Malzahn. Marshall, who has two game-winning TD passes in the final seconds, and Mason have powered the nation's no. 3 rushing offense.

Marshall accounted for 229 passing yards, 89 rushing yards and three total touchdowns against Georgia. Mason ran for 115 yards and a league-leading 18th touchdown. And then there's Louis, a shifty runner who has been touted by the coaches all season as a potentially key playmaker.

He ran for 66 yards on five carries and caught four passes for 131 yards. Louis accounted for Auburn's two longest plays, a 32-yard run and the 73-yard catch.

For all that success in Malzahn's up-tempo offense, a more notable difference from last season's team might have been the confidence remaining even after blowing a 20-point lead.

"This team is very unique," he said. "There's a lot of tension and pressures since the momentum had swung, but they had bright eyes in the huddle. It was really unbelievable."

Auburn has made a habit out of dramatic finishes. The Tigers beat No. 9 Texas A&M on Mason's 5-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left, topped Mississippi State on Marshall's touchdown pass to C.J. Uzomah with 10 seconds remaining and had late defensive stands against Washington State and Mississippi.

Malzahn doesn't buy into the talk of Auburn having good karma or being a team of destiny.

"I believe if you work hard and you have a team that is completely 100 percent together, and all the coaches, everybody is on board, then you have a chance to do something special," he said.

Winning the Iron Bowl would be high on that list.

  • SportsMore>>

  • 13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

    13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

    Sunday, April 20 2014 1:53 AM EDT2014-04-20 05:53:09 GMT
    Rescuers were digging through piles of snow and ice Saturday for four Sherpa guides buried on Mount Everest when an avalanche swept down the slopes and killed 12 other Nepalese guides in the deadliest disaster on...More >>
    Nepal's authorities temporarily halted climbing on Mount Everest while search teams dug through snow and ice Sunday for three Sherpa guides missing in the deadliest avalanche on the world's highest peak that killed...More >>
  • Hopkins wins split decision over Shumenov

    Hopkins wins split decision over Shumenov

    Sunday, April 20 2014 1:22 AM EDT2014-04-20 05:22:19 GMT
    Already the oldest boxer in history to win a world championship, Bernard Hopkins became the oldest to win a unification bout Saturday night as he captured a split 12-round decision over Beibut Shumenov of Kazakhstan.More >>
    Already the oldest boxer in history to win a world championship, Bernard Hopkins became the oldest to win a unification bout Saturday night as he captured a split 12-round decision over Beibut Shumenov of Kazakhstan.More >>
  • Wie shoots 67, wins LPGA LOTTE Championship

    Wie shoots 67, wins LPGA LOTTE Championship

    Sunday, April 20 2014 1:12 AM EDT2014-04-20 05:12:25 GMT
    Michelle Wie rallied from four strokes back entering the day to shoot a 5-under 67 on Saturday and win the LPGA LOTTE Championship.More >>
    Michelle Wie rallied from four strokes back entering the day to shoot a 5-under 67 on Saturday and win the LPGA LOTTE Championship.More >>
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • 13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

    13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

    Sunday, April 20 2014 1:53 AM EDT2014-04-20 05:53:09 GMT
    Rescuers were digging through piles of snow and ice Saturday for four Sherpa guides buried on Mount Everest when an avalanche swept down the slopes and killed 12 other Nepalese guides in the deadliest disaster on...More >>
    Nepal's authorities temporarily halted climbing on Mount Everest while search teams dug through snow and ice Sunday for three Sherpa guides missing in the deadliest avalanche on the world's highest peak that killed...More >>
  • Civil War movie "Union" filming in Montevallo

    Civil War movie "Union" filming in Montevallo

    Saturday, April 19 2014 11:52 PM EDT2014-04-20 03:52:27 GMT
    An independent film crew is in Montevallo this weekend to shoot scenes for an upcoming feature.The movie is titled "Union" and is about a "female" confederate soldier in the civil war.Whitney Hamilton wrote the screenplay. She said she wrote a play about a decade ago that told the story of Joan of Arc, and wanted to write another script about some female combatants from the United States.She researched the subject and learned more than 400 women disguised themselves as men during the Civil Wa...More >>
    An independent film crew is in Montevallo this weekend to shoot scenes for an upcoming feature.The movie is titled "Union" and is about a "female" confederate soldier in the civil war.Whitney Hamilton wrote the screenplay. She said she wrote a play about a decade ago that told the story of Joan of Arc, and wanted to write another script about some female combatants from the United States.She researched the subject and learned more than 400 women disguised themselves as men during the Civil Wa...More >>
  • Police believe former student is behind threat at UNA

    Police believe former student is behind threat at UNA

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:23 PM EDT2014-04-20 02:23:32 GMT
    University of North Alabama police say that 22-year-old Brian Mitchell of Madison, Alabama surrendered to police on Friday. Police say Mitchell is behind a message posted on social media site, Yik Yak,More >>
    University of North Alabama police say that 22-year-old from of Madison, Alabama surrendered to police on Friday.More >>
  • Alabama defense dominates spring game

    Alabama defense dominates spring game

    Blake Sims' bid to replace AJ McCarron as Alabama's starting quarterback hit a snag Saturday afternoon when the Crimson Tide defense dominated the annual A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.More >>
    Blake Sims' bid to replace AJ McCarron as Alabama's starting quarterback hit a snag Saturday afternoon when the Crimson Tide defense dominated the annual A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.More >>
  • Marshall leads Auburn 1st team to rout of 2nd team

    Marshall leads Auburn 1st team to rout of 2nd team

    Nick Marshall threw four touchdowns in two quarters as Auburn's first team routed its second team 58-3 on Saturday in a spring football game.More >>
    Nick Marshall threw four touchdowns in two quarters as Auburn's first team routed its second team 58-3 on Saturday in a spring football game.More >>
  • Crime Stoppers April 19: Who took Manquel Mertez Whittsett's life?

    Crime Stoppers April 19: Who took Manquel Mertez Whittsett's life?

    Saturday, April 19 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-04-19 23:00:10 GMT
    It hasn't even been a year since a Birmingham man lost his life. The homicide happened in the summer of 2013, and police don't want to waste any more time. That's why they're calling on you to help in
    It hasn't even been a year since a Birmingham man lost his life. The homicide happened in the summer of 2013, and police don't want to waste any more time. That's why they're calling on you to help in this unsolved killing.More >>
  • Two families lose homes during apartment fire

    Two families lose homes during apartment fire

    Friday, April 18 2014 11:45 PM EDT2014-04-19 03:45:09 GMT
    Two families lost their homes during a fire Friday night at the Crestwood Hills Apartments in the 1200 block of 49th Place South in Birmingham. Firefighters responded around 9:30pm and they had the fireMore >>
    Two families lost their homes during a fire Friday night at the Crestwood Hills Apartments.More >>
  • Pickens County lawmen are looking for armed robbery suspects

    Pickens County lawmen are looking for armed robbery suspects

    Friday, April 18 2014 11:20 PM EDT2014-04-19 03:20:19 GMT
    Karen Michelle BarkerKaren Michelle Barker
    Pickens County Sheriff's Office want Karen Michelle Barker and Anthony Glenn Poe in custody. Lawmen say the duo followed a lady home and robbed her as she exited her vehicle. It happened around 12pm onMore >>
    Pickens County Sheriff's Office want Karen Michelle Barker and Anthony Glenn Poe in custody.More >>