Auburn Football: Ranking the Top 10 Plays of Auburn's 2012 Season
The countdown to 2013 has begun in earnest all across the globe. It's only a mere number of hours now that remain in 2012.
Around this time of year, it's hard to miss people counting down the best things that happened in the year. There's the best apps, the best songs, the best tweets and even the best celebrity photos.
Here at Bleacher Report, we are doing the same. Bleacher Report's lead SEC writer, Barrett Sallee, counted down the 10 best SEC plays in 2012.
Even though there was a lot more to forget than there was to remember in 2012 for Auburn fans, we found the top 10 plays of Auburn's season.
Agree? Disagree? Is there a play that you think should have been in the top 10? Drop a comment below and let us know.
No. 10: Tre Mason Goes Up and Over John Sullen Against Vanderbilt
*The highlight occurs at the 1:51 mark of the video
Auburn RB Tre Mason gave Auburn fans many reasons to be optimistic about the future in 2012. The speedy back made plenty of spectacular plays and ran hard all season long despite every reason not to.
This play did not result in any TD or game-changing play. So why did it make my top-10 list? Because it showed off Mason's running style throughout the year. It was a hard-nosed, determined and athletic run. I distinctly remember saying "wow" after Mason completed this play. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.
It can't be easy to jump over a guy like OL John Sullen. He was bent over on the play when Mason leaped him, but when standing straight up, he measures 6'5".
Look for plenty more runs like these in 2013 and beyond.
No. 9: Corey Lemonier's Sack and Forced Fumble Against LSU
*The highlighted play occurs from 0:47 to 0:54 in the video
Auburn played its best defense in Week 4 against LSU.
A pivotal play occurred late in the first quarter. Auburn DE Corey Lemonier whipped LSU OL Josh Dworaczyk and sacked LSU QB Zach Mettenberger. Lemonier also forced a fumble that Auburn DT Angelo Blackson recovered.
The play itself is worthy of being in top-10 consideration, but what made it better was the situation in which it occurred. LSU was up 9-0 at the moment and had momentum as the Bengal Tigers scored on the previous drive.
Lemonier changed that with this play. After the forced fumble and recovery, Auburn went on to score a TD to pull within two points. It also gave the defense confidence for the rest of the game. Auburn would not allow LSU into the end zone for the rest of the game.
No. 8: Trent Fisher's Pick-Six
*The highlight occurs at the 3:22 mark of the video
The Auburn secondary had only one interception in the 2012 season. It made that one interception count, though.
Against Alabama A&M on November 17, safety Trent Fisher put a cap on Auburn's 51-point scoring outburst by returning an interception for a TD after he picked off A&M QB Deaunte Mason and brought it back 60 yards for the score.
No. 7: Onterio McCalebb's Kickoff Return for a TD Against Mississippi State
The only time that Auburn found the end zone in Week 2 against Mississippi State was when Onterio McCalebb returned the opening kickoff of the second half 101 yards for a TD.
McCalebb found a crease in the Bulldogs' kickoff coverage and used the speed that Auburn fans have seen for the past four years to sprint past all of the Bulldogs in pursuit.
Despite a horrid first half, McCalebb's return gave Auburn a 10-7 lead early in the third quarter. Mississippi State would come back to win the game in the second half, 28-10.
No. 6: Cody Parkey's OT Field Goal Beats Louisiana-Monroe for Win No. 1
*The highlighted play occurs at the 0:40 mark and ends on 0:50 mark
On September 15, Auburn was thirsting for a win after an 0-2 start. After playing their best football for nearly three quarters against Louisiana-Monroe, the Tigers allowed the Warhawks to storm back in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.
After a missed FG by Louisiana-Monroe kicker Justin Manton on the Warhawks sole possession in OT, Auburn kicker Cody Parkey marched on to the turf at Jordan-Hare Stadium and drilled his kick right through the uprights to give Auburn its first win of the year.
No. 5: Emory Blake Reaches Around the Pylon for a TD Against the Hogs
Auburn was searching for any semblance of an offense in Week 6 against Arkansas. Former head coach Gene Chizik decided to bench QB Kiehl Frazier in lieu of Clint Moseley to begin the second half.
On the fourth drive of the third quarter, Moseley found dependable WR Emory Blake on a corner route. With his momentum carrying him toward the sideline, Blake used his football acumen and athletic ability to realize where he was on the field and stretched the ball across the pylon to put Auburn on the board for the first and only time against the Razorbacks.
No. 4: Tre Mason's 86-Yard TD Run Against Alabama A&M
Not a lot of people got a chance to see RB Tre Mason's 86-yard TD run against Alabama A&M on November 17 because it was not on national television.
Mason ran through a huge hole opened by FB Jay Prosch and the Auburn offensive line. He scampered for his second TD of the first quarter.
Once Mason got through the second level of the defense, he used his speed to outrun all of the A&M defenders.
It was the longest TD run of the 2012 season for Auburn.
No. 3: Sammie Coates' Hail Mary TD Catch Against Louisiana-Monroe
In Week 3, Auburn found itself tied with Louisiana-Monroe just before halftime. From 33 yards out, Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier put up a desperation pass with no time remaining on the clock.
With the Hail Mary pass high in the air, the 6'2" Auburn WR Sammie Coates out-jumped everyone around him and came down with the ball in the back of the endzone.
The TD catch gave Auburn the lead going into halftime and was big because the Tigers received the ball to open up the second half and marched down the field to take a two-touchdown lead over the Warhawks.
The Warhawks stormed back to tie the game in the second half to force OT. There is more on this game later.
No. 2: Kiehl Frazier Connects with Emory Blake for a TD Against Clemson
*The highlighted play occurs from the 0:08 mark to 0:20 mark on the video
The Auburn offense had one of its best performances of the season in Week 1 against Clemson.
Auburn went ahead 7-3 in the first quarter on its second drive of the game when Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier hit a wide-open Emory Blake for a beautiful 54-yard TD pass.
It was one of the few bright spots of the year for Frazier and the Auburn offense. After Frazier's throw to Blake, no one thought that Frazier would only throw one more TD pass for the remainder of the season.
No. 1: Daren Bates' Nasty Stiff-Arm Against New Mexico State
Auburn's No. 1 play of 2012 is...
Daren Bates' stiff-arm against New Mexico State.
Bates unleashed a season's worth of frustration with his fumble return for a TD against New Mexico State on November 3.
After a forced fumble by Demetruce McNeal, the ball bounced perfectly up to Bates. He scooped up the ball, and when only Aggie RB Germi Morrison stood between him and the end zone, he refused to be denied.
Bates pushed Morrison backward with a stiff-arm right below the facemask that sent him flying backwards. Bates went on to be penalized for excessive celebration with his flip into the end zone.
Who can blame him, though? After a season like 2012, a lot of people would have been doing flips to celebrate a TD when plays of this caliber were few and far between.