The Tigers on the field mirrored the composure of their coaches on the sideline. While Sanders's catch was the game-winner, an equally crucial play came earlier in the drive. Sanders, overeager, had dropped an easy ball to help put Auburn in a fourth-and-10 hole at the Florida 42 with 51 seconds remaining. During a timeout, Nix got on the headphones to the coaches upstairs and started yelling suggestions. "They had to tell me to shut up," he said.
Nix returned to the field with a newly drawn-up play, a variation of something in the playbook named, appropriately, "X comeback." The play had Thomas Bailey and Sanders, who usually line up on the right, on the left. The Gator defenders, tentative, dropped off and gave Bailey room to make a 14-yard reception for the first down. "It was a real fun game until then," Spurrier said.
On the touchdown play Nix stepped to the line of scrimmage and suppressed a smile as he surveyed the Florida defense. He noticed the Gators had single coverage on Sanders, who was again on the left side. More important, Sanders was three inches taller than the man assigned to cover him. "We couldn't believe the alignment they were in," Nix said.
Sanders ran a corner route toward the flag and leaped high as the ball fell. Later, he stood in the empty stadium on the spot where he had made the catch and remembered what he had seen at that moment. "All you can see is the rotations of the ball and a once-in-a-lifetime chance," said Sanders. "Everybody is waiting for you to make something happen."
For Sanders and Auburn, the wait is over.