Dec 01, 2019 6:40 AM

No. 16 Auburn upends No. 5 Alabama’s playoff hopes, 48-45

Posted Dec 01, 2019 6:40 AM

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Another wild, triumphant Iron Bowl finish turned Auburn’s field into a teeming mass of orange and blue.

A missed Alabama field goal again had much to do with it.

Shaun Shivers scored on an 11-yard run with 8:08 left to put No. 16 Auburn ahead and another failed kick wiped away the fifth-ranked Crimson Tide’s playoff hopes in a 48-45 victory for the 16th-ranked Tigers on Saturday.

Auburn (9-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) survived a final, marathon Crimson Tide drive when Joseph Bulovas’ 30-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright with 2:00 left.

Auburn couldn’t get a first down on JaTarvious Whitlow’s three runs while Alabama (10-2, 6-2) burned its final two time outs. But the Tide was called for illegal substitution after the Tigers lined up with the punter joining the offense, setting off confusion for the Tide and a fist-pumping celebration for coach Gus Malzahn.

“That’s the craziest game I’ve ever played in,” Shivers said.

Auburn fans stormed the field to celebrate another Iron Bowl thriller, filling it from end zone to end zone as they did in the 2013 Kick-Six game, when the Tigers’ Chris Davis returned a missed Tide field goal 109 yards for a game-winning touchdown. Davis led pre-game cheers on the field Saturday.

“When we play at home and we play them, we get to the fourth quarter, we find a way to win — 2013, 2017,” Malzahn said. “It kind of held true to the script tonight and our crowd has a lot to do with that. Our guys believed and our crowd willed us.”

The Tide had made the first five College Football Playoffs fields, but its case was damaged with a 46-41 loss to No. 1 LSU. The team’s in-state rival delivered the final blow.

Alabama coach Nick Saban deflected questions about the playoffs.

“I think the lesson to be learned is how important it is to be accountable,” Saban said. “When you play against good teams, that’s when these things bite you.”

He wasn’t pleased with the call for having 12 players on the field at the end, though.

“I really feel that it was a pretty unfair play at the end of the game where they substituted the punter as a wide receiver,” Saban said. “So we put the punt team in. And when the quarterback was back in there, we tried to put the defense back in. I thought they should have given us a little more time to substitute and get (Jaylen) Waddle out as a returner.”

Alabama worked more than six minutes off the clock before settling for Bulovas’ attempt, the latest costly kicking mishap for Saban and the Tide.

Quarterback Mac Jones, who had replaced injured star Tua Tagovailoa, scrambled for 18 yards on fourth-and-7 to get the Tide into easier field goal range. The drive stalled at the 13 when Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown batted a third-down pass back to Jones, who threw a pair of pick-sixes.

Auburn backup linebacker Zakoby McClain returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter when the ball bounced off the back of tailback Najee Harris and into McClain’s arms, setting up a sprint down the sideline. Smoke Monday returned another one 29 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

“It’s my fault,” Jones said. “And those two turnovers ended up being pretty big, so that’s on me.”

Waddle caught three touchdown passes and scored on a 98-yard kickoff return for the Tide, helping Alabama build a 45-40 fourth-quarter lead.

The 5-foot-7, 179-pound Shivers, who was playing the role of injured wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, delivered on his only carry. Whitlow took the direct snap and handed it to him. Shivers smashed into Xavier McKinney, knocking the safety’s helmet off on the way to the end zone. Bo Nix’s two-point pass to Shedrick Jackson made it 48-45.

“That was just pound and ground football,” Shivers said. “That’s all I knew growing up. I don’t fear anybody. I just had to make it happen. I knew that could have sealed the game because I knew our defense was going to hold on.”

Nix, a freshman who attended the 2013 game as a fan, passed and ran for a touchdown. The two-time high school state champion whose father was an Auburn quarterback clutched the game ball during interviews.

“That makes it my three state championships, I guess,” he said.

Alabama led 31-27 at halftime after the teams combined for 17 points over the final 1:06. Anders Carlson booted a 52-yard field goal after replay officials put one second back on the clock, three points that wound up being pivotal. Carlson made four field goals of 43 yards or more after some late-season struggles.

Jones finished 26-of-39 passing for 335 yards and four touchdowns. Najee Harris ran 27 times for 146 yards and a TD.

THE TAKEAWAY

Alabama: Came in needing some help to make the playoffs, but wound up losing multiple regular-season games for the first time since 2010.

Auburn: The defense was uncharacteristically vulnerable but also delivered big plays. Whitlow ran for 115 yards. A huge win for a team that had fallen short against other top teams.


TEMPER TEMPER

Emotions flared up a couple of times in the third quarter. Whitlow and Alabama were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for one altercation. Then Auburn receiver Seth Williams, who is from outside Tuscaloosa, was flagged for a push to linebacker Terrell Lewis’s head after tangling up with Trevon Diggs. That last one helped force Auburn to settle for the field goal.

UP NEXT

Alabama awaits its bowl invitation with no title shot.

Auburn awaits a possibly better bowl destination than it expected coming into the game.

Continue Reading Hutch Post
Dec 01, 2019 6:40 AM
Missouri fires football coach Barry Odom after 4 seasons

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri fired football coach Barry Odom on Saturday, ending the four-year stay of a respected former player who took over a program in disarray but could never get the Tigers over the hump in the brutal SEC.

The Tigers finished 6-6 and 3-5 in the conference after beating Arkansas on Friday. That left Odom with a 25-25 record, a perfectly middling mark after Gary Pinkel’s successful run.

Athletic director Jim Sterk called the dismissal a “difficult” but “necessary” move.

“He and his staff have worked diligently during the past four years,” Sterk said in a statement. “Coach Odom has represented our program with integrity and dedicated himself to developing our student-athletes on and off the football field for which we are grateful.”


Sterk was expected to speak later in the day at Mizzou Arena.

The Tigers were projected to contend for the top of the SEC East this season with the return of several key players and the arrival of high-profile Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant at quarterback. But the season began with a bumbling loss to Wyoming and never really got on track, and the Tigers were forced to beat Arkansas just to become bowl-eligible.

Not that winning six games mattered.

This past week, the school lost its appeal of NCAA penalties stemming from an incident involving a rogue tutor. That decision left in place postseason bans, recruiting and scholarship restrictions levied against the football, baseball and softball programs.

“As a program, we had tremendous momentum coming into the 2019 season with the opening of the new south end zone facility as well as other strategic investments in our football program,” Sterk said. “However, we lost a great deal of that energy during the last half of the season.”

It remains to be seen what candidates Missouri can given its significant disadvantages. Along with the current NCAA sanctions, Odom was one of the lowest-paid coaches in the SEC. The school also resides outside the league’s natural footprint, and will forever battle SEC East behemoths Georgia and Florida — along with the powers in the SEC West, such and Alabama and Auburn — for both recruits and wins.

Near the top of the list could be Josh Heupel, who coached at Oklahoma and Missouri before taking over at Central Florida. Memphis coach Mike Norvell, Boise State’s Bryan Harsin and Louisville coach Billy Napier are up-and-coming options, while Greg Schiano is still available after a deal fell through to return to Rutgers.


Odom was hired in December 2015 when Pinkel retired because of health reasons, and it seemed a natural fit. Odom had played for the Tigers in the late 1990s, coached prep football in Missouri and began his college career as a student assistant for Pinkel during the 2003 season.

Odom then spent several years in football operations before returning to the sideline. He coached the Tigers’ safeties and then joined Justin Fuentes’ staff at Memphis as the defensive coordinator. He came back to Missouri as Pinkel’s defensive coordinator during the 2015 season.

That year race-related protests erupted across the Missouri campus.

The movement primarily was led by a student group, but football players later announced they would not practice or play until school president Timothy Wolfe resigned — a move that could have cost the school $1 million in forfeited game fines. Wolfe ultimately announced his resignation, and the football team returned to the field to finish Pinkel’s final season.

Odom stepped into that still-volatile situation in December, at 38 becoming the second-youngest coach in school history. He provided a calming influence that extended across the campus, and set about rebuilding a program that had started to slip.

The Tigers won four games his first season but improved by three wins in the next, earning a trip to the Texas Bowl. The Tigers went 8-5 last season with a loss in the Liberty Bow, but had shown enough progress to earn Odom an extension in December 2018.

Missouri brought in several high-profile transfers this season, including Bryant and Arkansas wide receiver Jonathan Nance. But after the Tigers were picked third behind Georgia and Florida in the SEC East, they absorbed a stunning 37-31 loss to the Cowboys to open the season.

The Tigers rebounded to win five straight games, beating South Carolina and Ole Miss to start 2-0 in conference play. But their offense unspooled in a stunning streak of futility: They lost 21-14 at Vanderbilt, 29-7 at Kentucky, 27-0 at Georgia and 23-6 to Florida.

Their loss to lowly Tennessee ran the Tigers’ losing streak to five straight, and not even a season-ending 24-14 victory over border-rival Arkansas was enough to save Odom’s job.