The Alabama Crimson Tide’s regular season came to a painful, bitter end at the hands of its in-state rivals Auburn falling 48-45 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
After a 52-yard, 12-play drive that got Alabama down to the 11-yard line and set up a 30-yard field goal for kicker Joseph Bulovas, the redshirt sophomore hit the left upright with two minutes left in the game. Alabama got the defensive stop it needed, but an illegal substitution penalty on fourth-and-4, another undisciplined mistake that deflated Alabama all game, cost Alabama not only the Iron Bowl, but a chance at a sixth straight College Football Playoff berth.
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After the Bulovas missed field goal, Alabama still had two timeouts and 1:54 left on the clock. Alabama stopped Auburn running back JaTarvious Whitlow on third-and-7 for a gain of three and was in position to get the ball back with 50 seconds left. However, the 12 penalties the Crimson Tide had at the time were tied for the team’s most under Nick Saban. On the ensuing fourth down it was flagged for an illegal substitution that left Saban, headset in hand and face as red as the jacket he wore, screaming at his staff and officials.
The relationship between the Alabama football team and placekicking has been a tumultuous one to say the least, but the biggest chapter in the book of nightmares may have just been written. Getting the ball with 8:03 left on the clock, redshirt sophomore quarterback Mac Jones engineered a six-minute, 12-play drive that put Bulovas in position to tie the game with a 30-yard field goal. The sophomore hit the left upright, and they couldn’t keep the fans off the field in Jordan-Hare.
After a spectacular 58-yard touchdown catch and run by sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, Auburn had 33 seconds to work with at the end of the second half. Quarterback Bo Nix hit Whitlow for a 14-yard pass and it appeared the clock ran out before Whitlow was down. The clock stopped to review the play and without any timeouts remaining, it was ruled there was still one second remaining on the clock and Auburn was able to get the 52-yard field goal off in a running clock situation. The field goal was good and Saban expressed his displeasure before halftime about the clock management by the officials by stating that the rule says you need at least three seconds to run a play in that situation.
After Jones’ first interception that was returned for a touchdown and put Auburn ahead 17-10 in the second quarter, it took Waddle just 14 seconds to tie the game back up. The sophomore caught the kick at the two-yard line and went up the middle before veering left and went untouched down the Alabama sideline outrunning the Tigers’ coverage team for the 98-yard return.
In the wildest play in the Iron Bowl since the “Kick Six,” Jones rolled right to complete a short touchdown throw to junior running back Najee Harris. Instead, the ball bounced off Harris’ back and was picked off by Auburn linebacker Zakoby McClain and returned 100 yards for the second pick-six of the game for the Tigers’ defense and put Auburn ahead 37-31 with 6:31 left in the third quarter.