AUBURN, Ala. — No. 5 Alabama lost 48-45 to No. 16 Auburn on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium to fall to 10-2 overall and finish 6-2 in Southeastern Conference play this season.
Auburn is 9-3, 5-3.
Although Auburn's Anthony Schwartz has been touted as college football's fastest receiver, it was Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle, the fastest player for the Crimson Tide, who kept breaking free. Waddle had a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and 58-, 12- and 28-yard scoring receptions on his way to compiling 230 all-purpose yards.
The game featured a staggering nine lead changes, the most in the history of this storied rivalry. Alabama took leads of 3-0, 10-7, 24-17, 38-37 and 45-40, while Auburn regained leads of 7-3, 17-10, 37-31, 40-38 and 48-45. This game, which may be the most exciting Iron Bowl from start to finish, also had ties at 10-10, 17-17 and 24-24.
Facing fourth-and-7 from Auburn's 37-yard line with 5:22 remaining, Tide quarterback Mac Jones dropped back in the pocket and started to encounter a lot of company. Sprinting free, Jones raced for an 18-yard run and a first down, but Alabama came away empty on the series when Joseph Bulovas hit the left upright on a 30-yard field-goal attempt.
After Alabama marched down the field midway through the third quarter for first-and-goal at the Auburn 2, Jones threw behind Najee Harris in the end zone. Harris reached back and tipped the ball up and into the arms of Zakoby McClain, who made the interception and raced 100 yards down the sideline for a 37-31 Auburn lead.
WHAT IT MEANS
Alabama's chances at a sixth appearance in the six-year history of the College Football Playoff perished with the Bulovas misfire. Jones showed the Tide could still be dazzling, scoring them plenty of style points, but the 13-member CFP selection committee is not going to take a 10-2 team that didn't win its division, let alone its state championship.