Auburn stunner brings up tale of Elon back in ’60
Auburn’s Chris Davis taking a missed Alabama field-goal try back for the game-winning touchdown on the final play of the Iron Bowl was the talk of college football and may be the play of the year.
A game-winner in a showdown with national title implications? Surely a first. But not the first game-winner of its kind.
A tweet from Elon University on Monday helped unearth the exploits of George Wooten, who won a game on a missed field-goal return 53 years ago.
Back then, the Elon Phoenix were the Elon Fightin’ Christians and they were playing the Catawba Indians on Oct. 22, 1960. Up 12-7 with 15 seconds left, Catawba coach Press Mull went for a game-clinching field goal from the Elon 17. Ronnie Evans kicked it wide, and Wooten – a quarterback stationed in the end zone, just like Davis was Saturday in Auburn – went roughly 108 yards to give Elon a stunning 13-12 win.
The game, alas, received ”scant national attention,” according to an Associated Press article chronicling the oddities of the 1960 season, and soon passed into history.
At the Division I level, such a wild play has only happened a handful of times: LSU’s Odell Beckham did it vs. UAB earlier this season, Houston’s Tyron Carrier did in 2010 against Southern Miss (the kick was partially blocked), Cal’s Don Guest did it against Washington State in 1966 and Clemson’s Richie Luzzi did it against Georgia in 1968.
All of those came after Wooten’s feat for Elon.
Here are five more things that stood out in an unforgettable weekend of college football:
GAMBLING MAN: Michigan coach Brady Hoke was lauded by some for having the guts to go for a 2-point conversion down 42-41 to Ohio State with 32 seconds left. The numbers suggest that Michigan’s odds of winning were essentially the same had the Wolverines instead kicked the point after with the hopes of winning in overtime. According to STATS, teams going for a 2-point conversion when down by one late in games were successful 13 of 24 times since 1996. The Wolverines made it 13 of 25 (52 percent) because Devin Gardner’s pass was picked off. That’s just 2 percent higher than Michigan’s theoretical odds had it chosen to play for OT with a point-after try (50-50 it’s good or missed), which is designed to give each team an equal shot at victory.
SHOOTOUT!: David Fales and Derek Carr put on perhaps the best shootout of the season. Fales, the San Jose State star, threw for 547 yards and six touchdowns on just 45 attempts as the Spartans knocked off previously-unbeaten Fresno State 62-52 in Mountain West play. Carr nearly matched his counterpart with 519 and six TDs, but he also threw the game’s only interception in the fourth quarter.
JORDAN RULES: Against Western Michigan last week, Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch broke his own FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 321 as the Huskies stayed unbeaten with a 33-14 romp. He’s now third in the nation in rushing yards with 1,755 – and the 2,000 mark isn’t out of the question with the MAC championship game and a bowl still left. Lynch has accounted for 42 touchdowns; 22 passing and 20 rushing, in 12 games.
NOT DRE’S DAY: Boston College’s Andre Williams has joined Lynch in the Heisman Trophy conversation after cracking 250 yards rushing in three straight games. The run came to an end when he got hurt in the third quarter of a 34-31 loss to Syracuse, as he finished with just 29 yards on nine carries. Williams still has a big national lead with 2,102 rushing yards and would appear to be a lock for the Doak Walker Award.
BRANDIN’S STILL COOKIN’: Oregon State’s five-game slide certainly isn’t wide receiver Brandin Cooks’ fault. Though his numbers dipped a bit down the stretch, the nation’s receiving yards leader finished with back-to-back 10-catch outings and had 110 yards in a loss to Oregon over the weekend. Cooks is first in the nation with 120 catches for 1,670 yards heading into Oregon State’s bowl game. But Cooks likely won’t catch Fresno State’s Davante Adams for TD receptions. Adams has 22, seven ahead of Cooks.
EXTRA POINTS: For all the talk about Jameis Winston and the Florida State offense, the Seminoles head into the ACC title game against Duke leading the nation in scoring defense at just 11 points a game. Alabama is second at 11.3 … The Tide could’ve used South Florida’s Marvin Kloss for its game-winning kick; he is 4 of 7 from 50 yards and beyond. …Virginia’s Anthony Harris leads the country with eight interceptions, while Stanford’s Trent Murphy has 13 sacks. … Baylor still leads the nation with 55.4 points a game, though the Bears have topped that total just once in their last four games.
Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP