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No. 15 Auburn wins Iron Bowl thriller, knocks No. 5 Alabama out of CFP race

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Two pick-sixes. A kickoff return touchdown. A controversial field goal with 1-second left on the clock. A 48-point quarter that saw 21 points scored in 84 seconds. The 84th Iron Bowl had just about everything, and in the end it had an Auburn victory, as a late missed field goal allowed the No. 15 Tigers to preserve a 48-45 win over No. 5 Alabama, officially knocking the Crimson Tide out of the College Football Playoff for the first time in the 6-year history of the series.

Alabama (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will now enter December out of the national championship picture for just the second time since 2011 — with the other coming in 2013, when Auburn dealt Alabama a death blow with the Kick Six.

Playing without Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

got 335 yards and four touchdowns from Mac Jones, 146 yards and a touchdown from Najee Harris and four lead-changing touchdowns from Jaylen Waddle, but two pick-sixes by Jones and a controversial field goal gave Auburn 17 needed points. Playing in his first Iron Bowl, Bo Nix completed 15-of-30 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 44 yards and a score and, most importantly, played turnover free football.

The game started slowly — an Alabama field goal and three punts in the first four possessions — but then took off to warp speed, starting with a 37-yard Christian Tutt punt return that set Auburn up at the Crimson Tide’s 32-yard line. A 15-yard Boobee Whitlow run and a face mask penalty later, Nix put the Tigers up 7-3 with an untouched 7-yard keeper at the 2:07 mark of the first quarter.

Alabama immediately answered with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown run capped by a 6-yard Harris run, as the junior running back carried the entire Tide offense while Jones worked his way to game speed (his first 14 passes covered just 40 yards). Harris lead all runners with 94 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Auburn then tied the game with a 43-yard Anders Carlson field goal, then took the lead when Smoke Monday snared a Jones overthrow and raced 29 yards for a score, putting the Tigers up 17-10 with 5:36 left in the first half. The lead lasted 14 seconds, as Waddle raced the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. Then, Whitlow fumbled at his own 37, and 84 seconds after leading 17-10, Auburn trailed 24-17 when Jones found Henry Ruggs III for a 3-yard score at the 4:12 mark of the second quarter.

Stunned to silence after that turn of events, Auburn appeared to be trying to simply run out the final four minutes of the half and lick its wounds at halftime, until Nix hit Seth Williams on a 37-yard heave on 3rd-and-8, taking the ball from his own 38 to Alabama’s 25. Nix then found Will Hastings for an 11-yard gain on a throwaway, and then Sal Canella, using his 6-foot-5 frame to keep his toes in bounds while reaching far out of bounds, snared a game-tying touchdown pass with 1:06 left in the first half.

The Tigers left too much time.

After a 24-yard Diggs kick return and a 4-yard completion to Jerry Jeudy, Waddle did the rest, catching the ball shy of the Auburn 45 and then weaved through the secondary for his second touchdown of the quarter, putting Alabama back ahead 31-24 with 33 seconds left in the first half. Waddle touched the ball four times in the half, and two of them turned into touchdowns totaling 156 yards.

Out of timeouts, Auburn maneuvered from its own 35 to the Alabama 34 when Whitlow was tackled as time expired in the half. But, because Whitlow surged forward until time expired rather than going down with, say, three seconds left in the half, Gus Malzahn demanded a review of the timing. The review worked as a de facto timeout, allowing Auburn to get off a field goal when one second was put back on the clock. History did not repeat itself, as Carlson’s 52-yard field goal sailed through the uprights, not for a 109-yard return the other way.

Carlson’s third field goal, a 43-yarder, pulled Auburn within 31-30, and then the Tigers took their second lead of the day with their second pick six of the day, as Zakoby McClain caught a deflection off Harris’s back and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown, putting War Eagle back in front 37-31.

Once again, though, the lead did not last, thanks to Waddle. This time, he hauled in a 12-yard touchdown grab, and Joseph Bulovas‘s extra point lodged the game’s 75th point at the 4:57 mark of the third quarter.

After a pair of punts, Auburn nudged back ahead with a 44-yard Carlson field goal — his fourth of the day — and once again Waddle erased an Alabama deficit, as his 28-yard touchdown grab completed a 6-play, 90-yard drive that saw the Crimson Tide take a 45-40 lead with 13:44 left in the game.

Malzahn then leaned on Whitlow and Nix’s legs to slice through a tired Alabama defense, and Shaun Shivers surged Auburn back in front with an emphatic 11-yard end-around on 3rd-and-5. Nix’s pass to Shedrick Jackson gave Auburn its fourth lead, 48-45, with 8:08 to play.

Faced with a 4th-and-7 at the Auburn 37 with 5:13 to go, Nick Saban kept his offense on the field and was rewarded when Jones scrambled for an 18-yard gain. Jones converted a 3rd-and-1 with a sneak to the 10 and then, facing a 3rd-and-goal with 2:11 remaining, Jones’s pass was knocked down by Derrick Brown, straight into Jones’s arms, who did not come close to scoring the touchdown but did force Malzahn to use his second timeout.

Bulovas could tie the game with a 30-yard field goal, but the Achilles heel of Saban’s crimson dynasty reared its ugly head again, as the kick smacked off the left upright.

Auburn could win the game with a first down, but the Tigers gained only six yards on three runs. However, Auburn kept its offense on the field, baiting Alabama into a game-ending illegal substitution penalty. The five penalty yards were enough to convert the first down, handing Auburn (9-3, 5-3 SEC) its second Iron Bowl win in three years.

The win moved Auburn to 19-0 under Malzahn when scoring a non-offensive touchdown, and dropped Alabama to 0-7 in games of ranked teams at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It also marks Malzahn’s third win over Saban, tying Les Miles for the most among SEC coaches. The loss also means Saban is still winless against 9-win Auburn teams during his tenures at LSU and Alabama.

Wild Iron Bowl sees Alabama lead 31-27 at the break

Associated Press
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A 48-point second quarter — with 21 of those points coming in less than a minute and a half — has seen No. 5 Alabama take a 31-27 lead over No. 15 Auburn at the half.

The game started slowly — an Alabama field goal and three punts in the first four possessions — but then took off to warp speed, starting with a 37-yard Christian Tutt punt return that set Auburn up at the Crimson Tide’s 32-yard line. A 15-yard Boobie Whitlow run and a face mask penalty later, Bo Nix put the Tigers up 7-3 with an untouched 7-yard keeper at the 2:07 mark of the first quarter.

Alabama immediately answered with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown run capped by a 6-yard Najee Harris run, as the junior running back carried the entire Tide offense while Mac Jones worked his way to game speed (his first 14 passes covered just 40 yards). Harris lead all runners with 94 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Auburn then tied the game with a 43-yard Anders Carlson field goal, then took the lead when Smoke Monday snared a Jones overthrow and raced 29 yards for a score, putting the Tigers up 17-10 with 5:36 left in the first half. The lead lasted 14 seconds, as Jaylen Waddle raced the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. Then, Whitlow fumbled at his own 37, and 84 seconds after leading 17-10, Auburn trailed 24-17 when Jones found Henry Ruggs III for a 3-yard score at the 4:12 mark of the second quarter.

Stunned to silence after that turn of events, Auburn appeared to be trying to simply run out the final four minutes of the half and lick its wounds at halftime, until Nix hit Seth Williams on a 37-yard heave on 3rd-and-8, taking the ball from his own 38 to Alabama’s 25. Nix then found Will Hastings for an 11-yard gain on a throwaway, and then Sal Canella, using his 6-foot-5 frame to keep his toes in bounds while reaching far out of bounds, snared a game-tying touchdown pass with 1:06 left in the first half.

The Tigers left too much time.

After a 24-yard Diggs kick return and a 4-yard completion to Jerry Jeudy, Waddle did the rest, catching the ball shy of the Auburn 45 and then weaved through the secondary for his second touchdown of the quarter, putting Alabama back ahead 31-24 with 33 seconds left in the first half. Waddle touched the ball four times in the half, and two of them turned into touchdowns totaling 156 yards.

Out of timeouts, Auburn maneuvered from its own 35 to the Alabama 34 when Whitlow was tackled as time expired in the half. But, because Whitlow surged forward until time expired rather than going down with, say, three seconds left in the half, Gus Malzahn demanded a review of the timing. The review worked as a de facto timeout, allowing Auburn to get off a field goal when one second was put back on the clock. History did not repeat itself, as Carlson’s 52-yard field goal sailed through the uprights, not for a 109-yard return the other way.

Alabama will receive to open the second half.

No. 16 Auburn scores 21 straight to surge past No. 11 Oregon

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You had to know Oregon would regret its two trips inside Auburn’s 10-yard line that ended in no points, because you knew Auburn was going to rally.

Auburn rallied, and now the Ducks are flying home with an absolutely devastating loss, both for themselves and their entire conference.

Behind an inspired defensive effort and a clutch performance from their true freshman quarterback, No. 16 Auburn scored 21 straight to rally past No. 11 Oregon, 27-21 in Dallas.

Making his first career start, Bo Nix overcame two early interceptions to save Auburn’s comeback effort, first with a 3-and-one-inch scramble on a 4th-and-3, and then a game-winning 26-yard touchdown pass to Seth Williams with nine seconds left in the game.

But, before it could fall apart on Oregon, first it had to come together.

The Ducks (0-1) accepted the ball to open the game and promptly moved 74 yards in 11 plays to take an immediate 7-0 lead. The Ducks initially scored on a 3rd-and-goal Justin Herbert keeper, but replay ruled his knee down at the 1. No matter, Mario Cristobal kept his offense on the field and pounded the ball in through CJ Verdell.

The Ducks forced a three-and-out on Auburn’s first chance, then drove right back to Auburn’s doorstep. That’s where, if this game turns in the second half, Oregon will carry regret with the back to Eugene: a third-down drop in the back of the end zone by Bryan Addison, and then a missed 20-yard field goal by Camden Lewis.

Auburn (1-0) rode the chance to swing momentum for the first time, using a 38-yard completion from Nix to Will Hastings and then a 19-yard Nix run to set up a 40-yard Anders Carlson field goal, pulling the Tigers within 7-3 at the 3:17 mark of the first quarter.

Oregon immediately answered, needing only three plays to move 75 yards and push their lead to 14-3 with 2:11 left in the first.

The Ducks once again moved in position to take complete control of the game when Jevon Holland returned a punt 81 yards to the Auburn 9, but Oregon then gave it right back with another red zone disaster. This one was a fumbled exchange by Herbert, scooped up by Big Kat Bryant and returned 83 yards to Oregon’s 3.

Auburn again did not fully capitalize on this mistake, settling for a 25-yard Carlson field goal.

A third critical mistake set up Auburn’s third scoring chance, this one a 53-yard punt that was returned 41 yards by Auburn’s Christian Tutt, who was given an extra 15 when Oregon punter Blake Maimone roughed him. Given the ball at Oregon’s 26, Auburn again failed to cash in. This time, Carlson was wide right from 42 yards with eight seconds left before the break.

After forcing a three-and-out to open the second half, Oregon moved 53 yards in nine snaps to score on Darrian Felix‘s 6-yard run.

Auburn pulled back within eight thanks to two big plays by Eli Stove, a 36-yard run and an 11-yard touchdown grab on consecutive snaps and, after teetering on blowout territory for much of the first half, the Tigers were within one when backup quarterback Joey Gatewood soared over the top for a 1-yard score at the 9:48 mark of the fourth quarter.

Oregon’s next chance covered 33 yards and killed nearly half the remaining clock, but Verdell’s 4th-and-1 run, successful on the opening drive of the game, was stuffed at Auburn’s 41.

Now faced with their first deficit of the game, Oregon’s defense forced a three-and-out; however, the Ducks’ offense could not mount anything, so Auburn again took over with a chance to take the lead at its own 40 with 2:05 to play. That possession immediately found itself in a do-or-die 4th-and-3, which Nix converted by the nose of the football on a scramble, keeping Auburn’s chances alive.

Nix, who threw for 177 yards and rushed for 42, then ended the game with the already-legendary toss to Williams to complete the rally.

For Oregon, though, this is simply a catastrophic loss for themselves and a Pac-12 conference that desperately needed a marquee non-conference win. Mario Cristobal and company were close to exorcising demons of both its 2010 BCS National Championship loss to Auburn and two previous losses inside AT&T Stadium, one the 2015 CFP National Championship, but now goes to bed with those demons even larger than before.

Missed opportunities could haunt Oregon in second half vs. Auburn

Associated Press
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Oregon holds a 14-6 lead over Auburn at the half in Dallas, but it could be so, so much more.

The Ducks accepted the ball to open the game and promptly moved 74 yards in 11 plays to take an immediate 7-0 lead. The Ducks initially scored on a 3rd-and-goal Justin Herbert keeper, but replay ruled his knee down at the 1. No matter, Mario Cristobal kept his offense on the field and pounded the ball in through CJ Verdell.

The Ducks forced a three-and-out on Auburn’s first chance, then drove right back to Auburn’s doorstep. That’s where, if this game turns in the second half, Oregon will carry regret with the back to Eugene: a third-down drop in the back of the end zone by Bryan Addison, and then a missed 20-yard field goal by Camden Lewis.

Auburn rode the chance to swing momentum for the first time, using a 38-yard completion from Bo Nix to Will Hastings and then a 19-yard Nix run to set up a 40-yard Anders Carlson field goal, pulling the Tigers within 7-3 at the 3:17 mark of the first quarter.

Oregon immediately answered, needing only three plays to move 75 yards and push their lead to 14-3 with 2:11 left in the first.

The Ducks once again moved in position to take complete control of the game when Jevon Holland returned a punt 81 yards to the Auburn 9, but Oregon then gave it right back with another red zone disaster. This one was a fumbled exchange by Herbert, scooped up by Big Kat Bryant and returned 83 yards to Oregon’s 3.

Auburn again did not fully capitalize on this mistake, settling for a 25-yard Carlson field goal.

A third critical mistake set up Auburn’s third scoring chance, this one a 53-yard punt that was returned 41 yards by Auburn’s Christian Tutt, who was given an extra 15 when Oregon punter Blake Maimone roughed him. Given the ball at Oregon’s 26, Auburn again failed to cash in. This time, Carlson was wide right from 42 yards with eight seconds left before the break.

The quarterbacks’ lines explain the game, at least outside of major Oregon mistakes. Herbert was 10-of-16 for 122 yards and a touchdown, while Nix was 6-of-18 for 91 yards and two picks.

Verdell rushed nine times for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Auburn WR Will Hastings out for the year after second ACL surgery

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Auburn wide receiver Will Hastings went down with a torn ACL during spring football practices earlier this year. After making a quick return to the field in Week 2 as opposed to the previously estimated timeline, Hastings will now miss the rest of the 2018 season, according to a report.

A report by Auburn Undercover, citing the father of Hastings as their source, says the receiver will now be out for the remainder of the 2018 season after undergoing a second surgical procedure this week. The rehab process will force Hastings to stay away from football long enough to make a return to the field this season out of the question. He was used sparingly this season as the Auburn coaches chose to play it safe and reduce how much Hastings would be a part of the game plan.

The knee injury Hastings suffered in the spring was to the left knee, which is the knee that was just operated on again, according to the Auburn Undercover report.

Hastings appeared in just one game this season, and he missed the two most recent games for the Tigers. Hastings did not record any stats this season but accounted for 525 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2017.