The Iron Bowl needs no added drama. No. 9 Auburn's 43-38 win against Georgia – thanks to a fourth-quarter miracle, with quarterback Nick Marshall's desperation heave tipped, batted and then caught by wide receiver Ricardo Louis for a 73-yard touchdown – packed enough drama into 60 minutes to last an entire season.
Yet by beating the Bulldogs, Auburn has created a scenario where this year's Iron Bowl incarnation – No. 1 Alabama at the Tigers on Nov. 30 – will carry as much importance as any in the series in nearly 20 years.
Auburn is now 10-1, 6-1 in the Southeastern Conference, meaning both teams will have one or fewer loss heading into the finale for the first time since 1994. The stakes are high: Alabama or Auburn will win the game to take the SEC West Division and earn a spot in the SEC title game.
There are two ways to look at this year's Iron Bowl. On one hand, Auburn has yet to face a defense of Alabama's caliber. On the other, however, Alabama has yet to face an offense quite like coach Gus Malzahn's wide-open, run-based attack. When it comes to this year's Iron Bowl, the storylines will be endless.
More winners and losers from Saturday's college football action:
Duke: As evidence of how quickly things can change: With two games left in the regular season, Duke sits in control of the ACC Coastal Division. Better yet, the Blue Devils' 48-30 win against Miami (Fla.) – losers of three in a row – was not even a total surprise, even if the Hurricanes are the substantially more talented team. Already bowl eligible for the second year in a row, Duke can now consider the possibility of playing Florida State in early December to decide the ACC championship.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats started 7-2 without playing – let alone beating – a team with a winning record. That changed Saturday, when Cincinnati dismantled Rutgers on the road, 52-17, to keep some pace in the American Athletic Conference race. The win might be even more important to the Bearcats' self-confidence: Cincinnati closes with games against Louisville and Houston, so beating a winning team should give this team a boost heading into the final stages of the regular season.
Kansas: It had been three years since Kansas had last won a Big 12 game, and four years since KU had won a Big 12 game against an opponent currently in the conference – since Colorado, the last Big 12 team to lose to the Jayhawks before Saturday, joined the Pac-12 in 2011. Saturday's 31-19 win against West Virginia ended with coach Charlie Weis getting an ice bath and a good portion of the fan base storming the field. Such things happen after a 27-game conference losing streak.
Texas: After starting 1-2 during non-conference play, Texas had salvaged its season by winning its first six games against Big 12 competition. By losing 38-13 to No. 10 Oklahoma State, however, the Longhorns are a long shot to claim the league's automatic BCS bid. Perhaps the most distressing aspect of Saturday's setback was the Longhorns' own sloppiness, with turnovers, penalties and poor decisions dooming UT to a painful home loss.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies' rollercoaster-like season continues. It opened with a loss to Alabama, followed by a six-game winning streak. Then came back-to-back losses to Duke and Boston College, followed by what seemed like a year-salvaging victory against Miami. Saturday, the Hokies dropped out of the ACC race in a 27-24 overtime loss to Maryland. After winning at least 10 games in every year from 2004-11, Virginia Tech may end up with seven wins for the second season in a row.
Arizona: In the span of two games, Arizona has gone from neck-deep in the Rose Bowl hunt to fourth place in the Pac-12 South Division. First came UCLA, which pulled away late to beat the Wildcats 31-26. Saturday's 24-17 loss at home to Washington State drops Arizona to 3-4 in league play, three games behind in the loss column to division leader – and fierce in-state rival – Arizona State.
HOW THE TOP 25 FARED IN WEEK 12