Even more than three days later, the sting of Chris Davis’ field-goal return for a touchdown still lingers in the hearts and minds of many Alabama fans. And it probably isn’t going away any time soon.
It stings not only because it knocked Alabama out of the SEC and national championship pictures, but also because it was Auburn. Both teams could have been 0-11 coming into the game, and Alabama fans would still be upset—and rightfully so.
But there is still a way to ease the pain this season. Believe it or not, Alabama and Auburn could play again.
While the rest of the country might be aghast at that possibility, it wouldn’t be anything new for Alabama. In 2011, Alabama lost in a similarly heartbreaking fashion to LSU, 9-6 at home in overtime. The Crimson Tide got a shot at redemption when Oregon, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State fell above them and put them back in the title game, where Alabama won 21-0.
The Crimson Tide were probably the better team on the field the first time out, but untimely mistakes and missed field goals cost them an opportunity for a win.
It’s unclear what the result of an Iron Bowl rematch would be, but Alabama is still the best team in the country, at least according to Vegas:
Alabama would still be favored over any team in the country (yes, including Florida St) - via bookmaker @JayKornegay— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) December 2, 2013
Here are two scenarios that could see Alabama and Auburn play each other again.
This one is the most likely of the two. But it would take a couple of dominoes to fall.
Florida State and Ohio State would have to both win, sending the SEC champion to the Sugar Bowl instead of the national championship game. If it’s Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, and Northern Illinois loses in the MAC Championship, it would free up another at-large bid and the Sugar Bowl could opt to take Alabama for the rematch.
ESPN’s BCS expert Brad Edwards has more, via Andrew Gribble of al.com:
I don't know how the SEC office would feel about that and if they would try to discourage the Sugar from doing it, and if that scenario played out, that would be a possibility for the Sugar Bowl, Edwards said. Who could blame them for taking that rematch over Auburn vs. UCF or Auburn vs. Cincinnati?
An Alabama-Auburn Sugar Bowl could potentially draw more excitement than a Florida State-Ohio State national championship game. The Seminoles would be about a touchdown favorite in that title game.
Florida State -6.5 vs. Ohio State (entering this weekend at Golden Nugget)— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) December 1, 2013
And if Jameis Winston is ruled ineligible for the game because of the ongoing sexual assault investigation, that would take a lot of the star power out of the season’s biggest game.
Then you have the Sugar Bowl.
With the way Alabama lost, the Crimson Tide would undoubtedly be fired up to get revenge on the Tigers, much like they were with a different set of Tigers two years ago.
Auburn, meanwhile, would be feeling slighted from being left out of the title game and be ready to prove itself once again against its cross-state rival.
BCS National Championship Game
This one is the most outlandish scenario but could possibly produce the most anticipated college football game of all time and certainly the biggest for the state of Alabama.
The path to an Iron Bowl championship is pretty straightforward.
Florida State and Ohio State would both need to lose their respective conference championship games, and Auburn would need to win the SEC Championship Game. That would open the door for No. 4 Alabama to slide up to No. 2.
But the odds of that happening are pretty astronomical.
Who Would Win An Iron Bowl Rematch?
Florida State is currently a 29-point favorite over Duke in the ACC championship, according to Vegas Insider. Duke over Florida State would be one of the biggest upsets in college football history, especially given Florida State’s run of dominance this season. And Ohio State, a 6.5-point favorite over Michigan State according to VI, losing to Michigan State isn’t a given either.
Still, the possibility is there.
The last two years, Alabama has needed help to get back into the national title game and gotten it in timely fashion. It’s unlikely that lightning would strike three times in a row.
But in the last year of the BCS, it would be all too appropriate to end with mass chaos.