The Auburn Tigers would get one last shot to drive for the game-winning score this weekend against the Georgia Bulldogs, and on fourth-and-18, Nick Marshall would throw up one last prayer, and it landed into the arms of a pair of Georgia defenders who batted it up into the air and into the waiting arms of Ricardo Louis as ran 73 yards for the game-winning score:
Marshall finished the game having completed 15/26 passes for 230 yards (8.8) and one game-winning touchdown pass to go with his 19 carries for 88 yards (4.6) and two scores, and this game may propel him into the Heisman conversation. To be fair, if you take away his flukie hail mary score, his stats would have reflected one of his poorer outings this year, but that’s beyond the point.
At 10-1 and 6-1 in the SEC, the Tigers are still alive for a chance to win the SEC West and earn a spot in the SEC Title game if they can win their regular-season finale against the Alabama Crimson Tide, which is easier said than done against the top-ranked Tide, who are looking to claim their fourth BCS title in four years.
People will discount Marshall because his stats don’t reflect that of a traditional Heisman-contending quarterback. His 1530 passing yards for just 9 TDs and 5 INTs make him look like a below-average QB in the nation’s best conference.
But Marshall has been the prime reasons Auburn is in this position after a disastrous 3-9 campaign last year. His mobility and ability to effectively run the read-option at Auburn has the Tigers among the best rushing teams in the nation. The Tigers ran for 323 yards against a Georgia defense that came in giving up 126 yards a game on the ground, 20th nationally.
His 123 carries for 823 yards (6.7 per carry) and 9 TDs reflect that. If he can somehow lead Auburn to an improbable win against the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide, he should ascend into the top two or three Heisman contenders and be on-hand for the award presentation in New York at season’s end.