AUBURN — Alabama gave up the most points of the Nick Saban era in a shootout loss to Auburn on Saturday, falling 48-45 to drop to 10-2 for the season. It’s the first time Alabama has lost multiple games in a season since 2013 and likely the first time it will not reach the College Football Playoff.
Play of the game: With two minutes left in a three-point game, Alabama kicker Joseph Bulovas lined up a 30-yard field goal to tie the game. Jordan-Hare Stadium fell silent, then erupted as the ball caromed off the left upright.
Offensive player of the game:
Fan Vote: Jaylen Waddle
James Ogletree: Jaylen Waddle
James Benedetto: Jaylen Waddle
Defensive player of the game:
Fan Vote: Anfernee Jennings
James Ogletree: Xavier McKinney
James Benedetto: Raekwon Davis
Alabama had a touchdown called back on its opening drive due to a holding call. It settled for a 43-yard field goal by Bulovas.
Auburn returned an Alabama punt 37 yards to the 32-yard line. Tigers freshman quarterback Bo Nix capped the drive with a 7-yard rushing touchdown after faking the handoff.
The Crimson Tide regained the lead in the second quarter with a 14-play, 75-yard drive. Junior running back Najee Harris leaped over two Auburn defenders for a 6-yard touchdown, his 18th of the season.
Auburn kicked a 43-yard field goal to tie the game at 10, then Alabama redshirt sophomore quarterback Mac Jones threw a pick-six to give the Tigers the lead. On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore Jaylen Waddle returned the kick 98 yards to quickly close the deficit.
Two plays later, redshirt senior Anfernee Jennings forces a fumble which was recovered by freshman Christian Harris. The fumble gave the Crimson Tide great field position as the offense took over at the Auburn 37-yard line.
Jones atoned for the pick-six with a four-play, 37-yard drive ending in a touchdown. Jones scrambled to his right and found junior wide receiver Henry Ruggs III in the back of the end zone.
The Tiger offense regained its composure on the next drive, as it drove down 75 yards in just seven plays resulting in a touchdown. Nix kept the play alive with his feet and found wide receiver Sal Cannella standing in the end zone.
The back-and-forth scoring continued as Waddle turned on the jets to score his second touchdown of the quarter. Jones found Waddle over the middle and the receiver went 58 yards for the score.
Auburn drove down the field at the end of the half and kicked a 52-yard field goal. The Tigers added another one to start the third quarter to draw within one point, 31-30.
Alabama drove deep into Auburn territory and was helped by three Tigers penalties — a roughing the passer, a pass interference and a late hit out of bounds. On first-and-goal from the 2-yard line, though, Jones threw behind Harris and was intercepted. Auburn linebacker Zakoby McClain returned the ball 100 yards.
Jones went 4 for 5 on the next drive, including a perfect pass to Waddle in the front-left corner of the end zone, to give Alabama the lead back, 38-37.
Auburn wide receiver Seth Williams was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, but the Tigers still made a 44-yard field goal to regain the lead, 40-38.
Just over a minute into the fourth quarter, Jones threw his fourth touchdown of the game to Waddle, who high-pointed the ball in the end zone for his third touchdown catch and fourth total touchdown of the game.
The Tigers continued the back-and-forth battle with an 11-play touchdown drive and a two-point conversion. That set the record for the most points Alabama had allowed under Saban.
Alabama’s potential game-tying or game-winning drive stalled at the Auburn 10-yard line. Bulovas bounced a 30-yard field goal off the left upright to give the Tigers the ball with 2:00 left and a three-point lead. Alabama would have gotten the ball back in the final minute, but a substitution infraction penalty gave Auburn a first down that sealed the game.
With its second loss, Alabama is likely eliminated from College Football Playoff contention. The Crimson Tide had reached the CFP five consecutive times.