TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Cam Newton ran around Bryant-Denny Stadium with a hand over his mouth, having hushed up those who might have thought his shot at the national title was done, along with the Heisman Trophy.
He's very much on track for both, thanks to his most audacious performance yet in this season of triumph and controversy.
No one had ever rallied a team to victory over Alabama after trailing by 24 points. That's just what Newton did Friday, leading No. 2 Auburn to a stunning 28-27 triumph that kept the Tigers in the thick of the BCS championship race and might have swayed any Heisman voters who had their doubts about voting for a guy hounded by unsavory allegations.
Newton threw for three touchdowns against the ninth-ranked Crimson Tide. He ran for the other score. And a day that started like Auburn might be headed for a staggering blowout ended with No. 2 taking a victory lap around Alabama's hallowed home field.
"Cameron Newton is physically and mentally as tough as I've ever seen," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "Period."
When Auburn fell behind 24-0 in the first half, it looked as though all those turned off by the prospect of Newton hoisting the Heisman and national championship trophies after his father was accused of seeking a huge payout might not have to worry about it.
Both awards, it seemed, were slipping away.
Not so fast.
Newton again rallied a team that has trailed in eight of its 12 games, leaving the crowd of 101,821 in disbelief. Well, except those orange-clad faithful crammed into one end of the stadium amid all the crimson, celebrating a win no one could have seen coming just a couple of hours earlier: the biggest comeback in school history.
Newton had a 1-yard TD run and threw scoring passes of 36 yards to Emory Blake, 70 yards to Terrell Zachery and, finally, a 7-yarder to Philip Lutzenkirchen with 11:55 remaining that gave Auburn its first lead of the day.
It held up, keeping the Tigers perfect heading to next week's Southeastern Conference championship game against South Carolina. If Auburn wins that one, the reward will certainly be a berth in the national title game.
"That's the kind of team we have," Zachery said. "We never give up."
Auburn (12-0, 8-0 SEC) trailed 21-0 before it even picked up a first down, and Alabama (9-3, 5-3) had a 314-2 lead in total yards when things looked especially grim for the Tigers.
Newton's day started with a rendition of "Take The Money And Run," blaring over the loudspeakers during pregame warmups, and he got off to a very shaky start along with the entire team.
Rattled? No way.
Love him or deride him as a tainted star, Newton certainly has no peer on the field. It's unlikely that anyone in the country could lead a team back from such a daunting deficit in Tuscaloosa, where Alabama had won 20 in a row.
Then again, the Tigers have come back time and time again this season, overcoming double-figure deficits three other times. This was their best one yet, their best one ever.
"That was a game that will certainly go down in history," Chizik said. "It's hard to come back when you're down 24-0 against anybody."
Newton didn't do much on the ground, rushing for 39 yards and taking plenty of big hits, including four sacks. But he's no slouch with his arm, either. He completed 13 of 20 for 216 yards, including a gutsy fourth-down throw to Darvin Adams that kept the winning drive alive near midfield.
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