Alabama vs. Auburn score, takeaways: No. 3 Tide complete comeback, survive first OT in Iron Bowl history

No. 3 Alabama completed a rally for the history books to knock off Auburn, 24-22, in four overtimes on Saturday night. The first game in Iron Bowl history to continue past regulation started with the Crimson Tide trailing 10-0 until midway through the fourth quarter. However, the Tide finally scored their first touchdown with 24 seconds left to force overtime, where the scoring continued.

Once there, the teams traded touchdowns in the first OT period and swapped field goals in the second to set up a battle of two-point conversion plays beginning with the third OT. After they each converted their first attempts, Alabama won the game in the fourth OT when wide receiver John Metchie III hauled in a pass from quarterback Bryce Young. A pass from Auburn QB T.J. Finley pass fell incomplete on the previous play.

Young struggled in the first half against a swarming Auburn defense but settled down late in the game. He hit Ja'Corey Brooks for a 28-yard touchdown with 24 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Brooks was playing a more prominent role in the game after Jameson Williams, Alabama's top wide receiver and a Biletnikoff Award finalist, was ejected for targeting covering a punt in the second quarter. Without him, the Tide offense struggled for much of the day.

The Tigers had a great chance to run out the clock after Alabama turned the ball over on downs with 2 minutes left and just two timeouts remaining. However, Auburn running back Tank Bigsby stopped the clock by running out of bounds while striving for a first down on the ensuing possession. If he'd reached the first down marker, Auburn might have been able to run out the clock. Instead, Alabama got a stop on third down and regained the football back with enough time to drive for the game-tying score.

The victory sends Alabama (11-1) to next week's 2021 SEC Championship Game against No. 1 Georgia (12-0) with momentum. The loss means that Auburn finishes the regular season with four consecutive defeats and a 6-6 overall record under first-year coach Bryan Harsin.

Here are the top takeaways from the Iron Bowl. 

Alabama is still alive

There would have to have been a lot of chaos on Championship Weekend for a two-loss Alabama team that beats Georgia in the SEC Championship Game to make the College Football Playoff. Now, though, the committee will not have to worry. 

Alabama survived on the road against a rival when everything went against it to make the SEC Championship Game with one loss. If it loses a close game to Georgia, will the committee penalize Alabama for losing a game that it played its way into despite several scares throughout the year? When you consider the landscape of this particular college football season, it's a legitimate question. 

One way for Alabama to make a big impression is to push Georgia into a shootout. Even if the Crimson Tide lose said hypothetical shootout, it would be the first time all season that Georgia's defense would even be challenged, much less pushed to the brink.

Hand Young the Heisman now

The Heisman Trophy will belong to Bryce Young. No, his stats don't jump off the page. He only completed 49% of his passes, was picked off once and looked rattled all night. That's just it, though -- he was rattled all night. His offensive line let him down in a big way, and he got up and fought through it play after play. His poise down the stretch, including the 97-yard, game-tying drive that culminated with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Brooks with 24 seconds to play earned him the right not only to be in New York as a finalist but to hoist the trophy himself.

Part of the reason that Young should make room on his trophy case is the fact that his only real competitor, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, lost to Michigan earlier in the day and won't play in the Big Ten Championship Game next weekend. Even if Young doesn't light up the scoreboard against the Bulldogs, he at least led his team to championship weekend.

Young showed that he has the heart of a champion, and will get a chance to add on to his trophy collection next week when his Crimson Tide plays Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. 

Alabama O-line is out of time

Alabama's offensive line is a massive problem. The stats in this one don't lie. The Crimson Tide managed just 64 rushing yards and, until the final two drives of regulation, didn't show a sign of life. That's on the big uglies up front because it always felt like the offense was going two steps forward, and then one step back.

That is unacceptable, but it's also a trend. The Crimson Tide managed 91 last week against Arkansas, just 6 rushing yards against LSU earlier this month and 91 in the Florida game in September. If you hear a bizarre sound, it's Georgia's defensive front-licking its chops to get a hold of this offensive line next week in the SEC Championship Game.

Auburn's defensive front brought it

Auburn defensive coordinator Derek Mason has been criticized all season for being too passive in the pass rush. That wasn't the case on Saturday in the Iron Bowl. Mason brought pressure from all over the field, including delayed blitzes, stunts and just about everything else he could find in the playbook. 

Yes, Alabama's offensive line was really, really bad (see above). But this was not the kind of performance or game plan that Auburn employed all season. It was so frustrating that a hot topic of conversation on local radio this week was whether Mason and/or offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will be fired. 

Bobo's job might be on the line because, let's be real, 159 total yards against any FBS team is atrocious. But Mason saved his and gave Auburn something to build on going into bowl practices. 

Auburn played too conservative

The Tigers offense essentially played the entire game in a shell after it realized that the defense was having its way with the Tide offense. That's fine. In fact, that's the right thing for coach Bryan Harsin to do considering the way the game was going and the magnitude of its outcome. 

In overtime, though, things should have changed, specifically after Auburn's touchdown in the bottom of the first frame. A hobbled T.J. Finley found freshman tight end Landen King between two defenders for a one-handed touchdown for the ages. Harsin should have gone for two right there. 

Forget playing conservative. All of the momentum already swung to the Crimson Tide sideline, and Finley could barely walk. That was the time for Harsin to put his stamp on the rivalry and roll the dice. Yes, it'd be risky. Auburn was playing with house money, though. It was the last game of the regular season in front of the home crowd. It was the perfect setting to live dangerously. 

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AUBURN +20.5, o57
AUBURN 20.5, O/U 57

Season Leaders

passing
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B. Young4872 YD, 47 TDS, 7 INTS
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B. Young4872 YD, 47 TDS, 7 INTS
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B. Nix2294 YD, 11 TDS, 3 INTS
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B. Nix2294 YD, 11 TDS, 3 INTS
rushing
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B. Robinson Jr.270 ATT, 1337 YD, 14 TDS
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B. Robinson Jr.270 ATT, 1337 YD, 14 TDS
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T. Bigsby223 ATT, 1099 YD, 10 TDS
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T. Bigsby223 ATT, 1099 YD, 10 TDS
receiving
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J. Williams79 REC, 1572 YD, 15 TDS
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J. Williams79 REC, 1572 YD, 15 TDS
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K. Hudson44 REC, 580 YD, 4 TDS
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K. Hudson44 REC, 580 YD, 4 TDS
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On to No. 4

John Samuel Shenker punched it in after John Metchie III scored for Alabama to send us to overtime No. 4.

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On to the third OT

Will Reichard hit a 38-yard field goal to tie it at 20 and send us to the third overtime. It's two-point play shootout time!

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Auburn back on top

Auburn couldn't get the offense going in the top of the second overtime, but Ben Patton nailed a career-long 46-yard field goal to give Auburn a 20-17 lead. Patton is playing because Auburn's normal kicker, Anders Carlson, tore his ACL in the loss to Mississippi State two weeks ago.

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November 28, 2021, 12:27 AM
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Auburn answers back

Freshman tight end Landon King's first career touchdown came at the perfect time. He made a one-handed snag in the end zone in-between two defenders to knot it up at 17 and force a second overtime. Keep in mind, any touchdown scored in the second overtime must be followed by a two-point conversion play.

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Alabama scores in the top of the first OT

Bryce Young hit Slade Bolden in the middle of the end zone for a six-yard touchdown in the top of the first overtime period to lead 17-10. Auburn's chance next. It's a big moment in the storied history of the Iron Bowl.

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November 28, 2021, 12:14 AM
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November 28, 2021, 12:13 AM
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