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Alabama vs. Auburn: 10 Things We Learned in the Tigers' Win

Chris StephensCorrespondent IINovember 30, 2013

Alabama vs. Auburn: 10 Things We Learned in the Tigers' Win

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    John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

    The Auburn Tigers pulled off perhaps the biggest final play in the history of the Iron Bowl as Chris Davis returned an Alabama missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers the win.

    The game was the best Iron Bowl ever and moves the Tigers into the SEC Championship Game.

    There were a lot of good things and a lot of unfortunate things that happened for Auburn, but the bottom line is, they won the game.

    Here are 10 things we learned from the Tigers in their win over the Crimson Tide.

The Tigers Are Back

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    For those who thought this year was a fluke for Auburn after the miracle catch against Georgia, Auburn showed they are one of the best teams in the country.

    Gus Malzahn has turned this team back around, showing who the real brains of the operation were during the 2010 national championship season.

    With Malzahn at the helm for the foreseeable future, the Tigers are going to be in the hunt in the SEC every year.

    Auburn has surprised many, but they've done it the same way every game—running the ball. As long as the Tigers continue to do that, they'll have success. 

Auburn Is a Team of Destiny

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    When your last two games end the way they do, it's obvious this Auburn team is a team of destiny.

    How else do you explain the "Miracle at Jordan-Hare" and the yet-to-be-named play by Davis that beat Alabama?

    Auburn did everything it could to ensure it was in a position to win the game. 

    While a few things still have to happen for Auburn to get a berth in the BCS National Championship Game, fans have to like their chances considering how well things have gone lately.

Auburn Can Run on Anyone

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Coming into the game, some wondered if the Tigers could run on Alabama if they didn't get much going in the passing game.

    But as Saturday's game showed, even with only 97 passing yards, the Tigers still ran the ball well against Alabama.

    The Tigers finished with 296 yards on the ground with Tre Mason going for 164 yards and one touchdown.

    It just goes to show you that stopping a good run team is easier said than done.

Gus Malzahn Should Win the National Coach of the Year

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If 10 wins wasn't enough to convince you that Gus Malzahn deserved to be named the top coach in the country, then a win over No. 1 Alabama should.

    Malzahn and the Tigers have continually proved the doubters wrong as the Tigers have reeled off 11 wins this year.

    Nobody gave the Tigers a chance to win this game, but Malzahn and his coaching staff had the players ready to go.

    A year after the Tigers went 3-9 and 0-8 in the SEC, Malzahn came in and turned the Tigers into a national contender again. For that alone, he deserves to be named the nation's top coach.

Carl Lawson Is a Beast

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    John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

    Freshman defensive lineman Carl Lawson is a first-round pick in the making.

    Although he only finished with one tackle in the game, Lawson constantly saw double-teams, freeing up his teammates to make plays. His biggest play came on fourth down when he stuffed T.J. Yeldon to turn the ball back over to the Tigers offense.

    Lawson was the No. 4-ranked high school prospect, according to Rivals.com in the 2013 class, and has come in and made an impact for the Tigers.

    By the time he's eligible for the NFL draft, Lawson will have played his way into the first-round conversation.

Auburn's Secondary Held Its Own

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    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

    AJ McCarron passed for 277 yards and three touchdowns against the Tigers.

    However, if you take out the one big mistake in which Amari Cooper got behind the defense for a 99-yard touchdown pass, McCarron was limited to 178 yards the rest of the game.

    For a team that was expected to throw the ball all over the field against Auburn, the Tigers' secondary held its own. 

    And let's not forget Davis is also a member of the secondary. Who will ever be able to forget what he did at the end of the game?

AJ McCarron's College Record Meant Nothing to Auburn

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Since beating Georgia, Auburn players kept hearing about how AJ McCarron had only lost two college games in his career.

    Now, make it three.

    The Tigers didn't care about McCarron's legacy at Alabama, and it showed on the field.

    Every punch Alabama threw, Auburn responded with a punch of its own. It showed that on any given day, a team that takes care of the little things can beat the most successful quarterback in state history.

Nick Marshall Is Only Going to Get Better

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Nick Marshall finished with 97 yards passing and 99 yards rushing, but it was his decision-making that was the real difference in this game.

    In situations where it was left up to Marshall, he made great decisions throughout the game.

    The first came on a read-option in the first quarter when he held the ball and went 45 yards for the first score of the game.

    The biggest came late in the fourth quarter when it looked like he was going to tuck the ball and run on first down. Instead, Marshall passed to a wide-open Sammie Coates for a game-tying 39-yard touchdown pass.

    Marshall is only going to get better as he continues to learn from Malzahn. While the read-option will continue to remain dangerous, Marshall will be that much more dangerous when he learns how to better read coverages.

Auburn Guaranteed Itself a Top-5 Recruiting Class

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    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

    Auburn currently ranks 12th in the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings for 2014.

    After beating Alabama, Auburn is going to be in on some of the other top recruits in the country.

    Could cornerback Marlon Humphrey or other top prospects look more at the Tigers now that they are back on the national radar?

    Malzahn has already secured commitments from 5-star linebacker Tre Williams and 5-star wide receiver D'haquille Williams. Others will follow and give Auburn one of the best recruiting classes it has had in recent memory.

This Was the Best Iron Bowl Ever

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    Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

    Regardless of which side you were rooting for, this Iron Bowl was the best ever.

    Never before has a trip to the SEC title game been decided in a game between the two teams. Never before has a game been decided on a missed field-goal return for a touchdown.

    So many things happened in this game that have never happened before in this series' history. Both teams played their tails off and left it all on the field.

    In the end, it was the missed field goals that cost Alabama the win.

    You have to give credit to Auburn for putting itself in position to win the game.

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