John Metchie caught a scoring pass from Bryce Young in the fourth overtime to give No. 3 Alabama a 24-22 comeback victory over rival Auburn on Saturday, rescuing the Crimson Tide’s national title hopes.
It was the first overtime in the Iron Bowl.
“Wow, what a game,” Tide coach Nick Saban said.
Freshman Kool-Aid McKinstry tipped away T.J. Finley’s pass in the final OT, and Young hit Metchie just as he did in the previous one.
Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC, No. 3 CFP) moves on to face No. 1 Georgia in the league championship game with its College Football Playoff hopes on the line. The Tigers (6-6, 3-5) dropped their fourth straight game after smothering Young and the Tide’s prolific offense most of the way.
“After halftime, it just seemed like everybody was all in and we were fighting like I’ve never seen us fight all year long,” Saban said. “Our players were as happy as I’ve ever seen them after the game.”
Young capped a 97-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown to freshman Ja’Corey Brooks — his third catch and first touchdown this season — with 24 seconds left in regulation.
Young converted a fourth-and-7 to Jahleel Billingsley, followed by two incompletions under pressure for an offense that had been held in check for 59 minutes.
“It was crazy. It was crazy,” said Young, who passed for 317 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. “When you’re playing in the Iron Bowl, what else are you supposed to expect? Throughout all the ups and downs, even that last drive, I have so much faith in my guys.
“My confidence never wavered.”
There were times when it easily could have against an Auburn defense that was yielding little.
The teams traded touchdowns and field goals in the first overtime and both delivered scoring passes after lining up from the 3 the first time.
The Tigers had been trying to win their third straight Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium ... and nearly pulled it off.
Alabama was without two of its top offensive players in the overtime periods.
Tailback Brian Robinson was on the sideline with an apparent leg injury sustained earlier in the game. Star receiver Jameson Williams was ejected for targeting on punt coverage in the first half.
Held to 70 passing yards in the first half, Young finished 25-of-51, many of the completions to Metchie.
Metchie caught 13 passes for 150 yards.
Auburn’s T.J. Finley, who started the final two games after Bo Nix’s season-ending ankle injury, was 17-of-26 for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
(1) Georgia 45, Georgia Tech 0: Stetson Bennett passed for 255 yards and four touchdowns, two to tight end Brock Bowers, and Georgia finished its undefeated regular season by overwhelming Georgia Tech.
Georgia (12-0, No. 1 CFP) gained momentum for next week’s much-anticipated Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 3 Alabama in Atlanta. It is the first undefeated regular season for the Bulldogs since 1982, when they capped a streak of three consecutive SEC championships with tailback Herschel Walker.
Georgia, which began the day leading the nation with its averages of 7.5 points and 236 yards allowed, posted its third shutout while giving up only 171 yards.
Bowers had a 77-yard touchdown catch, and Kenny McIntosh added a 59-yard scoring run. Bowers, a freshman, also scored on a 9-yard catch. He has 10 touchdown receptions, a school record for tight ends.
Georgia Tech (3-9) finished with three wins for the third consecutive season under coach Geoff Collins.
Florida 24, Florida State 21: Anthony Richardson came off the bench and led Florida to a 24-21 victory over rival Florida State on Saturday that made the Gators bowl eligible a week after firing coach Dan Mullen.
Richardson replaced turnover-prone Emory Jones early in third quarter and played significant snaps for the first time in a month. The dynamic freshman completed 5 of 7 passes for 55 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown to Justin Shorter that gave the Gators (6-6) some breathing room in a tight game.
Dameon Pierce took over from there, going untouched for a 2-yard score after running around and through the Seminoles (5-7). His touchdown came four plays after Pierce was penalized 15 yards for continuing to participate without a helmet; it was ripped off during an 8-yard run. Pierce finished with 62 yards on the ground.
The Seminoles scored to make it close in the final minutes, but they botched an onside kick. Florida then ran out the clock for their third straight victory in the series.
Tennessee 45, Vanderbilt 21: Hendon Hooker threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 75 yards to lead Tennessee to a 45-21 season-ending SEC victory over Vanderbilt.
Jabari Small rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns and Jaylen Wright had 113 yards and a score as the Volunteers (7-5, 4-4) grabbed bragging rights over the intrastate rival Commodores (2-10, 0-8).
It was the culmination of the first stage in coach Josh Heupel’s career at Tennessee. He was hired late in the offseason and found a way to earn a winning record and a bowl berth.