Saturday's Top 25: No. 6 Auburn takes down No. 1 Alabama
Auburn, Ala. — Auburn fans blanketed the field from end zone to end zone just like the last time they got to celebrate a stirring Iron Bowl win.
This time, Jarrett Stidham, Kerryon Johnson and No. 6 Auburn didn’t need a miraculous final play to unleash the celebration. It was a build up to the crescendo as the Tigers beat top-ranked Alabama in a dominating 26-14 win Saturday. Auburn earned a berth in next week’s Southeastern Conference title game against No. 7 Georgia.
The Tigers, an afterthought earlier this season, now have their sights set on one of the four playoff spots. And Auburn coach Gus Malzahn made it clear his two-loss squad deserves a shot. One of his team’s two defeats was to defending national champion Clemson, No. 3 at the time.
“We’ve got to win next week and that’s going to be a handful,” Malzahn said of his upcoming rematch with Georgia. “I don’t know, them experts got it figured out. I don’t think anybody else has played two No. 1 teams and a No. (3) team. Put up our schedule against anybody.”
Auburn fans covered the field in orange and blue after the final play, creating a scene similar to 2013 when the fourth-ranked Tigers beat No. 1 Alabama on a last-play, 109-yard return of a missed field goal. The Tigers went on to the national title game but had lost the three Iron Bowls since. This was Auburn’s biggest margin of victory in the Iron Bowl since winning 49-26 in 1969.
Stidham passed for 237 yards and ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown to set up a rematch with Georgia in the SEC championship game Dec. 2 with a playoff spot almost certainly on the line.
Auburn (10-2, 7-1 SEC, No. 6 CFP) mostly shut down the league’s top scoring offense for their second win in three weeks over the top team in the playoff rankings. They won the Western Division a week after dispatching the Bulldogs with similar precision.
The Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1) made a rare assortment of mistakes for a team that had appeared to be headed toward a shot at a fourth consecutive SEC title and playoff berth.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said his team still deserves a playoff shot after playing for the national title the past two years and scarcely getting challenged this season.
“I don’t think one game defines who you are,” Saban said. “It certainly doesn’t define this team for who they are. I’m sorry that I could not do a better job as a coach and as a leader.”
Auburn’s Johnson delivered a jump pass for a touchdown and ran 30 times for 104 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter with a right shoulder injury.
Malzahn said after the game Johnson has “a shoulder issue,” but didn’t elaborate on his status for the rematch with Georgia in Atlanta. Johnson had earlier appeared hurt on a run toward the pylon but stayed in for a 1-yard touchdown run on the next play.
The SEC’s leading rusher crumpled to the ground after a carry and walked off the field holding his right arm close to his body with a towel draped over his head. Fans chanted, “Kerryon!” ‘’Kerryon!”
With No. 2 Miami losing Friday night to Pittsburgh, it’s the first time the top two teams in the AP poll have fallen on the same regular-season weekend since Nov. 17, 2012.
Then, No. 1 Oregon lost to No. 14 Stanford and No. 2 Kansas State went down to Baylor.
Stidham completed 21 of 28 passes and ran for 50 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown scamper early in the fourth quarter. Ryan Davis caught 11 passes for 139 yards.
“I think we’re pretty darn good,” Stidham said. “Coach Malzahn told us it’s never been done in three weeks beating two No. 1 teams, so I think this team is pretty good.”
Alabama’s Jalen Hurts passed for 177 yards and a touchdown while running 17 times for 80 yards, but neither he nor the Tide offense ever really seemed to get going.
Alabama had a devastating sequence after Auburn took the lead late in the third on Johnson’s 1-yard run.
Trevon Diggs’ 55-yard return set the Tide up for a potential go-ahead score, and a pass interference against Auburn helped. Hale Hentges nearly caught a tipped pass in the end zone but replay overturned the touchdown call.
Then the Tide botched a field goal attempt with a bad snap.
Alabama had two straight botched snaps on a promising drive in the fourth quarter, failing to make good on a do-over after an Auburn penalty on the second.
More Top 25
(At) No. 3 Oklahoma 59, West Virginia 31: Baker Mayfield threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns after being punished for directing a lewd gesture toward the Kansas bench last week, and Oklahoma routed West Virginia to maintain its momentum heading into the Big 12 Championship game.
Mayfield was stripped of his captaincy and starting job for the game, his final home game as a Sooner. He received the loudest cheers when the seniors were announced, then more loud cheers when he entered the game on Oklahoma’s second possession.
Rodney Anderson ran for 118 yards and four touchdowns for the Sooners (11-1, 8-1 Big 12, No. 4 CFP). They will play TCU for the Big 12 title next Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
The Sooners gained 646 yards in their seventh straight win. It was the most points Oklahoma has scored against the Mountaineers.
West Virginia’s Chris Chugunov passed for 137 yards in his first start. He stepped in for Will Grier, who injured a finger the previous week against Texas. Kennedy McKoy ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns for the Mountaineers (7-5, 5-4).
No. 4 Clemson 34, (at) South Carolina 10: Kelly Bryant threw two touchdowns to Hunter Renfrow and Clemson kept on track for a third straight trip to the College Football Playoff with the victory over rival South Carolina.
The Tigers (11-1, No. 3 CFP) won their fourth straight game in the Palmetto State’s most cared-about sporting event, tying their second-longest run of dominance in the series.
The win was the 100th in Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s career. And combined with the CFP’s top teams — Alabama and Miami — losing this weekend, the Tigers solidified their position among the top four heading into the Atlantic Coast Conference title game next week.
The Tigers entered wary of a rejuvenated South Carolina (8-4, No. 24 CFP), which finished second in the SEC East and had its most victories in a season in four years. But Clemson’s defense bottled up the Gamecocks and quarterback Jake Bentley for a second consecutive season.
No. 7 Georgia 38, (at) Georgia Tech 7: Sony Michel ran for 85 yards and a touchdown, Jake Fromm threw two touchdown passes and Georgia protected its playoff hopes.
The Bulldogs had 247 yards rushing. Michel, Nick Chubb and D’Andre Swift ran for touchdowns. Fromm threw scoring passes of 21 yards to Javon Wims and 78 yards to Ahkil Crumpton.
Georgia (11-1, No. 7 CFP) will play in the SEC championship game next week against No. 6 Auburn.
Georgia Tech (5-6) was denied the win it needed to become bowl-eligible. The Yellow Jackets now must hope for a bowl waiver based on their academics if there is a shortage of bowl-eligible teams.
(At) No. 20 Stanford 38, No. 9 Notre Dame 20: K.J. Costello threw two of his career-high four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and Stanford rallied to beat Notre Dame.
The night couldn’t have gone much better for the Cardinal (9-3, No. 21 CFP), who got the help they needed when Washington beat Washington State 41-14 in the Apple Cup to send Stanford to the Pac-12 title game. The Cardinal finished tied for first in the North with the Huskies but won the head-to-head matchup to take the tiebreaker.
Bryce Love ran for 125 yards but Costello was the star of the offense for a change by throwing for 176 yards and delivering the four scores. Stanford has won seven of nine in the series, including the last five at home against the Fighting Irish (9-3, No. 8).
(At) No. 15 Washington 41, No. 14 Washington State 14: Myles Gaskin ran for 192 yards and four touchdowns, Washington forced four turnovers, and the Huskies ended Washington State’s hopes for a Pac-12 North title.
The Apple Cup remained decorated in purple for the fifth straight year thanks to a thorough domination by Washington (10-2, 8-2 Pac-12, No. 17 CFP) that was punctuated by Gaskin’s runs and a suffocating defense that made the night miserable for Luke Falk in his final regular season game.
It was a major flop for Washington State (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12, No. 13 CFP), needing only a victory to win its first Pac-12 North title and earn a spot in the conference title game Friday against Southern California. Washington State had memorable Apple Cup wins over the Huskies in 1997 and 2007 in Seattle.
Falk, the Pac-12 record-holder in a number of passing categories, threw three interceptions and had a costly fumble. He was under pressure all night as Vita Vea and the rest of defensive front was able to get pressure while rushing just three defenders and closed off gaps in the secondary. Falk was 37-of-55 passing for 369 yards and a late touchdown to Tay Martin, helping continue coach Mike Leach’s streak of never being shut out.
(At) No. 17 Memphis 70, East Carolina 13: Riley Ferguson threw for three touchdowns, Darrell Henderson scored twice and rushed for 122 yards and Memphis dominated in a tuneup for the American Athletic Conference title game.
Patrick Taylor ran for 127 yards and scored twice for Memphis.
The Tigers (10-1, 7-1, No. 20 CFP) completed their first undefeated home season at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium since it opened in 1965. Memphis won its sixth straight, the lone loss coming Sept. 30 against No. 13 Central Florida, which the Tigers will face in next Saturday in Orlando, Florida.
Memphis scored on its first play from scrimmage on an 89-yard pass from Ferguson to Anthony Miller.
Even when the Pirates (3-9, 2-6) were able to reach the end zone — the first time on a 33-yard pass from Gardner Minshew to Jimmy Williams in the third quarter — the ensuing extra point was blocked. And to make things worse, when the Pirates kicked off, Memphis’ Tony Pollard returned it 100 yards for his fourth kickoff return for a touchdown this season.
(At) No. 18 Oklahoma State 58, Kansas 17: Mason Rudolph passed for 438 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two scores in his final home game to lead Oklahoma State.
James Washington, Dillon Stoner and Marcel Ateman each went over 100 yards receiving for Oklahoma State (9-3, 6-3 Big 12).
Peyton Bender was 17 of 32 passing for 172 yards and two touchdowns for Kansas (1-11, 0-9). The Jayhawks lost their 45th consecutive road game.
Oklahoma State’s big-play offense delivered again, scoring on five consecutive first-half possessions en route to a 34-10 lead at halftime. The Cowboys then made it 41-10 a minute into the third quarter on Rudolph’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Washington. Randolph has been responsible for 45 touchdowns this season, breaking the school record of 44 set by Barry Sanders in his 1988 Heisman Trophy season.
(At) No. 19 LSU 45, Texas A&M 21: Danny Etling passed 347 yards and three touchdowns and LSU beat Texas A&M in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Etling, a senior playing his final game in Tiger Stadium, completed 19 of 30 passes and had six completions longer than 25 yards, including a 56-yarder on a short pass to running back Darrel Williams and a 49-yarder deep downfield to D.J. Chark.
Etling’s touchdowns went for 11 yards to Russell Gage, 10 yards to J.D. Moore and 6 yards to D.J. Chark as LSU (9-3, 6-2 SEC) won for the sixth time in seven games to finish with its best SEC record since 2012.
The Aggies (7-5, 4-4) entered the game with questions swirling about the future of coach Kevin Sumlin, who has never had a losing season since taking over at A&M in 2012, but who will go a fourth straight year without as many as nine victories.
(At) Fresno State 28, No. 25 Boise State 17: Marcus McMaryion threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and Fresno State beat Boise State in a preview of the Mountain West title game.
West champion Fresno State (9-3, 7-1) and Mountain winner Boise State (9-3, 7-1) had already wrapped up the division titles. They will meet Saturday in the MWC championship game at a site to be determined.
A summer transfer from Oregon State, McMaryion was 23 of 36 with no interceptions. He put away the game with an 81-yard strike to KeeSean Johnson midway through the fourth quarter.
Fresno State held Boise State’s to its fewest points of the season.