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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | November 27, 2021

No. 3 Alabama rallies to defeat Auburn in quadruple overtime

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It took a fourth-quarter rally from a double-digit deficit and four overtimes, but No. 3 Alabama defeated rival Auburn 24-22 on the road in the Iron Bowl to finish the regular season with an 11-1 record.

Next up for the Crimson Tide? A trip to Atlanta.

Here's how it happened

The two rivals combined for 10 consecutive punts to start the game, as the score was 0-0 until the middle of the second quarter. Five of those 10 drives were three-and-outs and only four of the 10 resulted in total gains of at least 10 yards.

Auburn started the scoring when backup quarterback T.J. Finley, who was starting in place of the injured Bo Nix, found Kobe Hudson for a 15-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown drive came after a punt in which Alabama's leading receiver, Jameson Williams, was ejected for targeting while on punt coverage.

In Alabama's next six drives after Auburn took the lead, the Crimson Tide punted twice, committed two turnovers on downs, threw an interception and saw the first half clock expire. During that span, Auburn added three more points through a field goal after a short punt and a solid punt return set up a short field for the Tigers' offense.

DOWN GOES NO. 2: How Michigan defeated Ohio State for the first time since 2011

The Tigers shut out the Crimson Tide for the first three quarters — something that hadn't happened for five years — but Alabama scored twice in the fourth quarter, including a 12-play, 97-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 10, when quarterback Bryce Young found Ja'Corey Brooks in the near right corner of the end zone for an impressive touchdown grab on 3rd-and-10 with 24 seconds remaining.

Auburn ran out the rest of the clock to go to the first overtime in Iron Bowl history.

In overtime, both teams scored a touchdown on their first possession, kicked a field goal on their second, and were held scoreless on their third, before Young found wide receiver John Metchie III for a game-winning 2-point conversion in the fourth overtime period. Under the new overtime rules, teams must go for a 2-point conversion after scoring a touchdown in the second overtime and starting in the third overtime, it becomes a 2-point shootout, where each team gets one try from the 2-yard line.

FAQ: How college football overtime works

Context

Alabama entered the 2021 Iron Bowl with a 47-37-1 edge in the series. The two schools had alternated wins in the previous five meetings, with Alabama winning in 2020, 2018 and 2016, and Auburn winning in 2017 and 2019, with the home team winning each time. If that pattern was continue, which it appeared that it might, Auburn was going to win, but a few costly decisions, such as Auburn running back Tank Bigsby not electing to go down late in the fourth quarter to allow the clock to continue to run, plus Alabama's late-game execution, gave the Crimson Tide the win.

The two teams were on diverging trajectories this season, as Alabama has been ranked in the top four of the CFP rankings since Week 10 and the Crimson Tide will represent the SEC West in the Big Ten Championship, while Auburn entered Saturday on a three-game losing streak and the Tigers were coming off of 21-17 loss to a South Carolina team that was previously just 2-5 in SEC play.

RANKINGS: Check out the latest College Football Playoff rankings

What's next

Alabama had already clinched a spot in the SEC Championship game, where it will play undefeated, No. 1 Georgia (12-0). Selection day for the 2022 College Football Playoff will be on Sunday, Dec. 5 on ESPN. A two-loss team has never made the CFP in the first seven years of the playoff era, but a theoretical win over Georgia would've required the selection committee to give Alabama serious consideration with an SEC title. With the win, Alabama's only blemish this season remains a narrow loss to Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide will arrive in Atlanta on a six-game winning streak.

Auburn, which entered the Iron Bowl with six wins on the season, had already reached bowl eligibility and the Tigers will play in a bowl game as well after finishing the regular season 6-6.

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