Iron Bowl: No. 3 Alabama improbably beats Auburn 24-22 in 4OT

·5 min read

Did Alabama QB Bryce Young have his Heisman moment in his first Iron Bowl?

No. 3 Alabama somehow rebounded from an abysmal offensive performance in the final 95 seconds of regulation to force overtime at Auburn in a 24-22 four-overtime win.

Young led the Crimson Tide on a 97-yard drive for a game-tying score with 24 seconds left to force overtime with a gorgeous 28-yard TD pass to Ja'Corey Brooks. Both teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime and field goals in the second overtime.

Each team converted its two-point attempt in the third overtime and after Alabama broke up an Auburn pass attempt, Young found John Metchie III in single coverage at the left pylon for the game winner.

Alabama got the ball back with 1:35 to go in the fourth quarter and no timeouts trailing 10-3 after Auburn's Tank Bigsby ran out of bounds on a second-down play while trying to get a first down. With Alabama sitting on one timeout at the time of Bigsby's run, the Crimson Tide would've had less than a minute to go 97 yards for a touchdown. But Bigsby's move out of bounds stopped the clock and allowed Alabama to use its final timeout after third down and save about 40 seconds.

Those 40 seconds ultimately helped Alabama tie the game and somehow get it to overtime.

How Auburn nearly upset Alabama in regulation

The ingredients of an Auburn upset were apparent from the start. And it seemed they were coming together for a tasty upset until the final two minutes. Just look at what happened in the first 58 minutes of the game.

  • Star Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams was ejected for targeting while covering a punt. The punt traveled just 35 yards and Auburn took over at the Alabama 39-yard line after the 15-yard penalty was assessed on Williams. Alabama’s No. 1 receiver left the game after he had just two catches for 43 yards. His absence was felt throughout the rest of the game.

  • Auburn scored in four plays after Williams’ ejection on a 15-yard TD pass from TJ Finley to Kobe Hudson.

  • After the teams traded punts following Auburn’s TD, Alabama had to sit on the ball before halftime after starting the final drive of the second quarter inside its own 10.

  • Alabama lost 10 yards on the first drive of the second half. Another short punt set up an Auburn field goal and a 10-0 lead.

  • Bryce Young threw an interception four plays after Auburn took a 10-0.

  • Alabama’s first foray deep into Auburn territory ended with a 39-yard field goal attempt. Holder Paul Tyson dropped the snap and had to scramble and fire an incomplete pass to avoid a loss of yards. Running back Brian Robinson had a long run on that drive but injured his ankle on it and didn't return to the game.

  • After forcing Auburn to punt, Alabama got back into Auburn territory and went for it on fourth-and-2 at the Auburn 39. Young dropped a low snap and was sacked for a loss of five yards.

  • Alabama turned an Auburn interception on the very next play into three points. And had another interception with less than seven minutes to go. But Dallas Turner was penalized for roughing the passer on the play and Auburn kept the ball.

  • That possession turned into a punt, but the Auburn punt pinned Alabama at the 2 with Alabama needing seven points for a tie. Alabama went for it on fourth-and-short near midfield with two minutes to go. Trey Sanders got stopped a foot short of the first down.

Alabama stays in the CFP mix

Alabama looked like it was about to fall out of the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings for much of the afternoon.

The Crimson Tide offense had just 261 yards of offense before the 97-yard drive to tie the game at the end of regulation. Young had just 208 yards passing before the final drive and finished with 317 yards on 25-of-51 passing for two touchdowns and an interception.

Metchie was Young’s favorite receiver in Williams’ absence. He had 13 catches for 150 yards and came up clutch on the final drive. So did Brooks, whose only two catches of the game were on the final drive. He saw extended playing time because Williams was out.

Young is now the likely frontrunner for the Heisman after No. 2 Ohio State’s loss to No. 5 Michigan. While the Heisman race is still wide open, he’s set up to make another great case for the award in the SEC championship game.

Alabama vs. Georgia for the SEC title

Alabama now seems likely to move up to No. 2 in the CFP rankings with the Buckeyes' loss hours before the Iron Bowl. Even if Alabama stays at No. 3, the SEC title game next week will serve as a play-in game of sorts for the playoff between Alabama and No. 1 Georgia.

The winner is effectively guaranteed a playoff berth while an Alabama loss likely drops them out of the top four. Georgia could stay in the top four with a loss as the Bulldogs are one of just two undefeated teams in college football.

Auburn, meanwhile, finishes the regular season at 6-6 and has lost its last four games. The Tigers were 6-2 after beating Arkansas and Ole Miss in October. But the Tigers have ended the season with losses to Texas A&M, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and now Alabama. The latter two losses came without starting QB Bo Nix — he suffered a broken ankle in the loss to Mississippi State.

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