AUBURN, Ala. -- Saturday was the 117th meeting between Auburn and Georgia, and the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry has seen its share of classics over the years. With the lead changing hands twice in the final minutes, this one was right up there. It was a fitting way to break the 54-54-8 tie in the series.
Here are three things we learned from Auburn’s thrilling 43-38 victory.
Clutch performance: It wasn’t conventional, but when his team fell behind, quarterback Nick Marshall delivered yet again. All Auburn needed was a field goal, but Marshall connected with Ricardo Louis on a 73-yard touchdown pass with less than 30 seconds remaining to put the Tigers ahead for good. It wasn’t the first time Marshall or this team had been in that position. In fact, this was the third game-winning drive orchestrated by Marshall this season. He led them back against Mississippi State in the SEC opener and again on the road at Texas A&M in an upset over the Aggies. But Saturday’s dramatic victory was the first time since Utah State in 2011 that Auburn scored in the final 30 seconds of regulation to win a game.
BCS bound: Saturday’s win kept Auburn in control of its own destiny, but it also had national implications for the Tigers. Auburn, ranked No. 7 in the BCS prior to Saturday, will likely move up a spot with Stanford’s loss to USC. If Gus Malzahn’s team wins out, they should pass Oregon as the highest-ranked one-loss team in the nation. They would need some help, but the BCS national championship isn’t out of the question. Also, even if the Tigers lose to Alabama in two weeks, they have set themselves up nicely to play in a BCS bowl. In that scenario, they would be the most attractive candidate for the Sugar Bowl as long as the Crimson Tide doesn't slip in the SEC title game. That’s quite an accomplishment for a team that finished 3-9 last season.
Room for improvement: The hype surrounding this season’s Iron Bowl has already started, and it won’t stop until Alabama and Auburn finally take the field in two weeks. However, as much as Auburn has improved during the season, it still has some work to do if it wants to take down the No. 1 team in the nation. That was evident Saturday. The defense gave up 532 total yards and had no answers for Georgia in the fourth quarter, especially when the Bulldogs got down in the red zone. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray finished 33-of-49 for 415 yards and two touchdowns. Todd Gurley rushed for 79 yards and a score, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Auburn will have to play better in two weeks if it expects to knock off Alabama and win the SEC West.