Auburn’s Kick Six Is Voted the South’s Most Unforgettable College Sports Moment

The 2013 stunner emerged victorious from a field of thirty-two entrants

Photo: Dave Martin/Associated Press

Auburn’s Chris Davis returns a missed field goal attempt 109 yards as time expires in the 2013 Iron Bowl.
voting bracket illustration

In G&G’s 2023 March Madness–style bracket, we asked readers to choose the most unforgettable moment of the past fifty years of college basketball and football in the South. We thought it a challenging task. After all, that’s a half century of hair-raisers and jaw-droppers from the sacred soil of our beloved sports, including Michael Jordan’s clutch jumper in the 1992 NCAA championship and Appalachian State beating mighty Michigan in 2007.

After three weeks of voting, it came down to a basketball-football finale: Christian Laettner’s buzzer-beater that lifted Duke over Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament versus the hair-raising final play of the 2013 Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl. The Shot vs. Kick Six. Alas, we can’t say the bracket’s nail-biting theme carried into the championship round. Kick Six won in a rout, garnering 90 percent of the votes.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, given that the Kick Six ranks among the most stunning plays in American sports, period. 

The Alabama-Auburn football rivalry, also known as the Iron Bowl, is serious business in any year. But in 2013 the stakes were exceptionally high: No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn, both harboring national title hopes, appear to be headed to overtime after officials rule that time has run out in a 28-28 game. But wait! What’s this? Bama coach Nick Saban, bitterly complaining that his team was cheated out of a second on the last play, gets vindicated after a lengthy review, and one second is put back on the clock. As the Tide prepares for a long field-goal attempt, Auburn stations Chris Davis, who normally returns punts, in the end zone in case the kick falls short. It does, and Davis returns it 109 yards for a shocking 34-28 victory.

Euphoria reigns on The Plains, and Saban sheds tears in the locker room. The legendary coach had won his argument, but in turn, it cost him the game. Call it the Irony Bowl.

Bracket illustrations by Marco Goran Romano
Game descriptions by Scott Peacocke

See all the moments in the bracket

Walk-Off Win for the Dawgs

National semifinal in Rose Bowl / January 1, 2018

So much to unpack from the highest-scoring Rose Bowl ever. Baker Mayfield lighting up UGA’s defense, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel running hither and yon, a defensive scoop-and-score, a blocked field goal, overtime…on it went for four hours.

The Dream Game

LOUISVILLE 80, Kentucky 68 (OT)
Men’s NCAA regional final / March 26, 1983

It took an NCAA bracket draw for rivals Kentucky and Louisville to play for the first time in twenty-four years. Kentucky’s Jim Master hit a buzzer-beater to force overtime, but the Cards dominated thereafter to reach the Final Four.

MJ Comes Up Clutch

North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62
Men’s NCAA championship / March 29, 1982

Michael Jordan hit the winning shot—something he often did—with fifteen seconds left in a seesaw game. But it was only after Georgetown’s Fred Brown passed the ball to the wrong team that Dean Smith finally claimed his first NCAA title.

Run, Lindsay!

Georgia 26, Florida 21
Regular season / November 8, 1980

Buck Belue found Lindsay Scott, who then won a sprint against Gator defenders. Dawg fans know Larry Munson’s radio call by heart, and though the score saved UGA’s run to a national title, it had the opposite effect on Munson’s press-box chair.

Smith’s Buzzer-Beater

North Carolina 60, Louisiana Tech 59
Women’s NCAA championship / April 3, 1994

UNC won its first national women’s title in the most dramatic way: Down two with 0.7 seconds left, Charlotte Smith took the inbounds pass and nailed a three-pointer. She also grabbed a staggering twenty-three rebounds.

Bluegrass Bloodletting

Kentucky 69, Louisville 61
Men’s NCAA semifinal / March 31, 2012

The Cardinals’ hiring of ex-UK coach Rick Pitino in 2001 took the intensity of the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry to new heights. But eleven years later when the teams met in a Final Four for the first time? The whole state called in sick that week.

Herschel Comin’

Georgia 16, Tennessee 15
Regular season / September 6, 1980

Bill Bates played fifteen NFL seasons and has three Super Bowl rings, but he’s still mainly known as the dude who got trucked by Herschel Walker. UGA’s freshman running back introduced himself to the Vols’ safety on his first career touchdown.

Coach K’s Farewell

North Carolina 81, Duke 77
Men’s NCAA semifinal / April 2, 2022

Mike Krzyzewski’s career closed with a dramatic loss to UNC in the NCAA semifinals, the first-ever Final Four game between the two archrivals. A month earlier, the Tar Heels had ruined his farewell game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Laettner’s Shot

Duke 104, Kentucky 103 (OT)
Men’s NCAA regional final / March 28, 1992

Christian Laettner drained the most dramatic shot in March Madness history, but the unsung hero was Grant Hill, whose seventy-nine-foot inbound pass was also perfect. Big Blue fans still rue the decision to not put a defender in front of Hill.

The Earthquake Game

Louisiana State 7, Auburn 6
Regular season / October 8, 1988

Only at a place like Tiger Stadium could there be a deafening crowd for a game with only one touchdown. When LSU scored on a fourth-down pass to upset Auburn, the resulting roar registered on the seismograph at LSU’s geology building.

Wide Right I

Miami 17, Florida State 16
Regular season / November 16, 1991

No. 2 Miami beat No. 1 FSU when the Seminoles’ thirty-four-yard field goal sailed wide right with under a minute to go. This was the first of five missed FSU kicks that would have tied or won the rivalry game over a twelve-year span.

The Jump Pass

Florida 23, Louisiana State 10
Regular season / October 7, 2006

Tim Tebow wasn’t even the starting quarterback yet when he produced his first “Oh wow!” moment for the Gators. His body’s hang time was nearly Jordanesque. A year later, he’d become the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.

Stellar Staley

South Carolina 64, Connecticut 49
Women’s NCAA championship / April 3, 2022

South Carolina’s Dawn Staley became the first Black coach, male or female, to win multiple Division I basketball titles. It was only fitting that she did it going against UConn’s legendary coach Geno Auriemma.

The Bluegrass Miracle

Louisiana State 33, Kentucky 30
Regular season / November 9, 2002

Kentucky fans were set to storm the field when LSU’s fling-and-a-prayer was tipped twice before being caught by Devry Henderson. If the NCAA kept records for longest walk-off offensive scores, this seventy-five-yarder might be it.

Birth of a Dynasty

Miami 31, Nebraska 30
National championship in Orange Bowl / January 2, 1984

Nebraska was hyped as the Team of the Century. Miami? A fun Cinderella story. At the end, the Huskers opted for a two-point try when a kick would have earned them a tie and the national title. Miami held, altering the program’s trajectory.


Duke 79, UNLV 77
Men’s NCAA semifinal / March 30, 1991

UNLV entered with a forty-five-game win streak and a roster featuring five future NBA players. The Runnin’ Rebels had also embarrassed Duke by thirty in the previous year’s final, a result that left a mega chip on the Blue Devils’ shoulder.

The Kick Six

Auburn 34, Alabama 28
Regular season / November 30, 2013

The craziest Iron Bowl finish ever, which is saying a lot. In a tied game, Bama attempted to win it on a fifty-seven-yard field-goal try with one second left. When the kick fell just short, Auburn’s Chris Davis returned it 109 yards for a touchdown.

Hail Mary-palooza

Tennessee 34, Georgia 31
Regular season / October 1, 2016

Talk about major mood swings. The Dawgs and the Vols traded touchdown bombs from midfield on the final two plays from scrimmage. A special shout-out to CBS cameras for capturing the alternating surrender-cobra poses from each fan base.

Punt, Bama, Punt

Auburn 17, Alabama 16
Regular season / December 2, 1972

Up 16–3 with under six minutes to play, No. 2 Alabama had national title hopes and seemingly not much to fear from Auburn’s anemic offense. But the Tigers blocked two punts, returning both for scores, within a four-minute span to win.

The Summit

Tennessee 73, Georgia 43
Regular season / February 5, 2009

Tennessee’s Pat Summitt became the first coach in college basketball to reach 1,000 wins in a rout of Georgia. Summitt coached the Vols to an amazing thirty-one consecutive NCAA tourney appearances and eight national titles.

Manning Leads the Band

Tennessee 38, Alabama 21
Regular season / October 18, 1997

Southerners seem to fall into two categories: those who love “Rocky Top” and those who loathe it. But most agree it was pretty cool when Peyton Manning conducted the UT band after he led the Vols over their biggest rival in Birmingham.

The Pick Play

Clemson 35, Alabama 31
National championship / January 9, 2017

Alabama was a play away from going wire to wire as No. 1. But a DeShaun Watson-to-Hunter Renfrow pass in the season’s final second gave Clemson its first national title since 1981. Some Tide fans think it was an illegal play, but the refs disagreed.


Texas 41, Southern Cal 38
National championship in Rose Bowl / January 4, 2006

Vince Young added to his Longhorn lore by scrambling for an eight-yard touchdown on fourth down with nineteen seconds left to stun USC. Many consider this the greatest college game ever, and sixty-two players from it went on to play in the NFL.

Bo over the Top

Auburn 23, Alabama 22
Regular season / November 27, 1982

Freshman sensation Bo Jackson, a high school state champion in the high jump, went up and over on fourth down to end Auburn’s nine-year losing streak to Alabama in what would be Bear Bryant’s final Iron Bowl.

Charles’s Slam

North Carolina State 54, Houston 52
Men’s NCAA championship / April 4, 1983

Houston (a.k.a. Phi Slama Jama) seemed an unstoppable dunking machine. But it was Lorenzo Charles’s improbable final-second dunk that won the game, and launched coach Jim Valvano’s famous and frantic search for someone to hug.

The Choke at Doak

Florida State 31, Florida 31
Regular season / November 26, 1994

For most of the day at Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida dominated its rival. But the ’Noles, down 31–3 with thirteen minutes left, staged the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in NCAA history, handing the Gators what felt like a bitter loss.

The Puntrooskie

Florida State 24, Clemson 21
Regular season / September 17, 1988

In the first matchup of top ten teams at Death Valley, FSU and Clemson were tied in the final minutes when, on fourth down from their own twenty-one, the Seminoles used some serious sleight of hand. The chicanery led to the winning field goal.

The Stand

Alabama 14, Penn State 7
Sugar Bowl / January 1, 1979

No. 1 Penn State vs. No. 2 Alabama in a de facto national title game. Bama made an epic goal-line stand late, capped by a fourth-down collision between Barry Krauss and Mike Guman that left Krauss unconscious and Guman short of the end zone.


Alabama 26, Georgia 23 (OT)
National championship / January 8, 2018

Who pulls a veteran star quarterback for an unproven sub in the title game? Nick Saban, by God! Down 13–0, Saban yanked Jalen Hurts for Tua Tagovailoa. In overtime, the new kid took a sack on first down, then threw the Tide’s most famous pass.

Wolfpack Ruin Bruin Streak

North Carolina State 80, UCLA 77 (2 OT)
Men’s NCAA semifinal / March 23, 1974

UCLA had won seven straight NCAA titles and, led by Bill Walton, was a heavy favorite to make it eight. But David Thompson and the Pack rallied from an eleven-point deficit to win one of the greatest games in NCAA history.

Mississippi State Shocker

Mississippi State 66, Connecticut 64 (OT)
Women’s NCAA semifinal / March 31, 2017

UConn, owner of eleven national titles, entered with a 111-game win streak. Mississippi State was playing in its first Final Four. But MSU’s Morgan William, the smallest player on the floor at five feet five, hit the winning buzzer-beater in overtime.

Big Upset at the Big House

Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32
Regular season / September 1, 2007

No program from the lower-tier FCS had ever beaten a ranked FBS (highest level) team. No. 5 Michigan was such a favorite that no point spread was issued, but App State took a lead and held on by blocking two field goals in the final minutes.