Saturday's Top 25: No. 3 Alabama rallies late, survives four OTs to beat Auburn
Auburn, Ala. — Pushed to the limits, Alabama delivered plays to celebrate in a stadium that has produced a few devastating ones.
The result was another unforgettable Iron Bowl.
John Metchie caught a scoring pass from Bryce Young in the fourth overtime to give No. 3 Alabama a 24-22 comeback victory over rival Auburn on Saturday, rescuing the Crimson Tide’s national title hopes.
It was the first overtime in the Iron Bowl.
“Wow, what a game,” Tide coach Nick Saban said.
Freshman Kool-Aid McKinstry tipped away T.J. Finley’s pass in the final OT and Young hit Metchie just as he did in the previous one.
Alabama (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 3 CFP) moves on to face No. 1 Georgia in the league championship game with its College Football Playoff hopes on the line. The Tigers (6-6, 3-5) dropped their fourth straight game after smothering Young and the Tide’s prolific offense most of the way.
“After halftime, it just seemed like everybody was all in and we were fighting like I’ve never seen us fight all year long,” Saban said. “Our players were as happy as I’ve ever seen them after the game.”
Young capped a 97-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown to freshman Ja’Corey Brooks — his fourth catch and first touchdown this season — with 24 seconds left in regulation.
Young converted a fourth-and-7 to Jahleel Billingsley, followed by two incompletions under pressure for an offense that had been held in check for 59 minutes.
“It was crazy. It was crazy,” said Young, who passed for 317 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. “When you’re playing in the Iron Bowl, what else are you supposed to expect? Throughout all the ups and downs, even that last drive, I have so much faith in my guys. My confidence never wavered.”
There were times when it easily could have against an Auburn defense that was yielding little.
The Tigers had been trying to win their third straight Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and fourth in five years. They nearly pulled it off. Auburn had won with a Kick-Six (2013) and two pick-sixes (2019).
Fans didn’t get to storm the field this time.
“There was a lot of fight from our team,” first-year Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “I’m proud of our guys. I told them I was proud of their fight. … Our guys played hard and put ourselves in a position to win the game. We just came up short.”
The teams traded touchdowns and field goals in the first overtime and both delivered scoring passes after lining up from the 3 the first time.
Alabama was without two of its top offensive players in the overtime periods.
Tailback Brian Robinson was on the sideline with an apparent leg injury sustained earlier in the game. Star receiver Jameson Williams was ejected for targeting on punt coverage in the first half.
Held to 70 passing yards in the first half, Young finished 25 of 51, many of the completions to Metchie.
Metchie caught 13 passes for 150 yards.
Auburn’s T.J. Finley, who started the final two games after Bo Nix’s season-ending ankle injury, was 17 of 26 for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He left the game at one point with a left ankle injury and returned with it taped up.
“I really couldn’t move how I wanted to,” Finley said. “I’m a big guy, so I don’t really move as much anyway. When your ankle is kind of bothering you … it forces you to stand in the pocket and deliver great balls.”
Kicker Ben Patton, a sub for injured Anders Carlson, kept Auburn alive with a 49-yard field goal in the second overtime.
Derick Hall had three sacks for the Tigers.
“When you come down to the wire like that and don’t finish, it sucks,” Hall said. “It’s painful.”
More Top 25
►No. 5 Notre Dame 45, (at) Stanford 14: Jack Coan threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score and Notre Dame finished off the regular season with a victory over Stanford to keep its playoff hopes alive.
The Fighting Irish (11-1, No. 6 CFP) won their final seven games following a home loss to Cincinnati but will likely need some help next week to get into the College Football Playoff for the third time in the past four seasons.
Stanford (3-9) lost its seventh straight game to end the season following an upset of then-No. 3 Oregon for its longest losing streak and most losses in a season since a 1-11 campaign in 2006. The Cardinal were outscored 173-46 over the final four games.
This game wasn’t competitive from the start as the Irish forced a three-and-out on the first possession and answered with a 74-yard drive capped by Coan’s 16-yard TD pass to Braden Lenzy.
Coan added another TD pass to George Takacs and the Irish built a 24-0 halftime lead. He finished 26 for 35 for 345 yards with the 1-yard TD run in the third quarter.
► (At) No. 7 Oklahoma State 37, No. 10 Oklahoma 33: Spencer Sanders threw for a touchdown and ran for another and Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma to keep alive its College Football Playoff chances and stop the Sooners’ streak of Big 12 titles at six.
Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1, No. 7 CFP) snapped a six-game losing streak to Oklahoma. The Cowboys will play No. 9 Baylor next Saturday for the Big 12 championship.
Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2, No. 10 CFP) got the ball one last time at its 20- with 54 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Caleb Williams scrambled and ran 56 yards to put the Sooners in scoring range. But Oklahoma State’s Collin Oliver sacked Williams on fourth down at the Oklahoma State 32 with eight seconds remaining.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy won for just the third time in 17 tries against Oklahoma. Now, the Cowboys can win their first Big 12 title since 2011.
Oklahoma State already had clinched a spot in the Big 12 title game, but the stakes remained high. With Baylor’s victory over Texas Tech earlier Saturday, Oklahoma needed a win to reach the conference championship game, giving Oklahoma State a chance to eliminate its rival.
The game turned when Oklahoma’s Eric Gray muffed a punt and Oklahoma State recovered at the Oklahoma 5. Jaylen Warren then punched it in from the 1 to give Oklahoma State a 37-33 lead with 8:54 remaining.
► (At) LSU 37, No. 14 Texas A&M 24: Max Johnson hit Jaray Jenkins with a 28-yard scoring pass down the right sideline with 20 seconds left, and LSU knocked off Texas A&M to give coach Ed Orgeron a triumphant send-off in his final game in Tiger Stadium.
The victory gave LSU (6-6, 3-5 SEC) two straight wins to close the regular season as a bowl eligible team. The loss likely relegated Texas A&M (8-4, 4-4) to a less prestigious bowl while ending the Aggies chance for a first 10-win season since 2012.
Orgeron, who presided over an undefeated national championship season in 2019 and has gone 11-11 since and agreed back in October to step down after this season.
► (At) North Texas 45, No. 15 UTSA 23: UTSA’s undefeated season ended in a blowout as North Texas running backs DeAndre Torrey and Ikaika Ragsdale combined for five touchdowns.
Quarterback Frank Harris had two of UTSA’s three lost fumbles among six overall before sitting the second half at rain-soaked Apogee Stadium, a 10-year-old facility where a Top 25 team had never played.
UTSA (11-1, 7-1 Conference USA), which never started with more than five consecutive wins in the program’s first nine seasons, is still hosting the conference championship game Friday night against either Western Kentucky or Marshall. No. 1 Georgia and fourth-ranked Cincinnati are the remaining undefeated FBS teams.
The Roadrunners, ranked 10th nationally in rushing defense, had given up six touchdowns on the ground all season. The Mean Green (6-6, 5-3) matched that late in the third quarter of their fifth consecutive victory that followed a six-game losing streak as UNT earned bowl eligibility.
Ragsdale, a redshirt freshman, had a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns.
► No. 21 Wake Forest 41, (at) Boston College 10: Sam Hartman threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score to help Wake Forest beat Boston College for a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
The Demon Deacons (10-2, 7-1) will attempt to claim their first league title since 2006 when they face No. 20 Pittsburgh on Dec. 4.
Hartman completed 20 of 32 passes for 236 yards and ran 11 times for 51 yards.