Auburn (No. 15) hosted Alabama (No. 5) Saturday for the annual Iron Bowl, and this game more than lived up to the hype.
A see-saw battle that saw more highlights than three average games combined, this epic SEC rivalry game was off-the-charts fun. It also featured the obligatory Nick Saban meltdown and a spot of controversy.
Ultimately, the Tigers prevailed at home in thrilling fashion, winning 48-45 to upset the Crimson Tide.
These are the biggest winners and losers from Saturday’s epic Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn.
Winner: Jaylen Waddle was superb
Every time Alabama needed a big play, it seemed like Jaylen Waddle was the guy making it.
The sophomore wide receiver was an electrifying weapon who sparked the Crimson Tide on offense, and on special teams.
The athletic marvel ripped off a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter to seize momentum back after an Auburn score. He also caught four passes for 98 yards and three touchdowns, doing it all for Alabama.
Loser: Mac Jones’ two big mistakes doom the Tide
It seems pretty harsh to call a guy who threw four touchdowns a loser, but Mac Jones also made a couple of huge mistakes that doomed the Crimson Tide in this game.
Jones threw not one, but two pick-sixes during Saturday’s Iron Bowl. In a game that was decided by just three points, the 14 points Auburn got off those turnovers were the biggest reason the Tide was defeated.
Winner: Smoke Monday, Zakoby McClain were amazing
Neither defense can feel great about the way the offenses in this game marched up and down the field. But impact plays that changed the game were a big part of how it played out, and Auburn’s Smoke Monday and Zakoby McClain made a few of those.
Showing his prowess both behind the line of scrimmage and out in space, Monday registered a sack of Mac Jones, and had a 29-yard pick-six.
McClain came up with the defensive highlight of the season for the Tigers on a 100-yard pick-six in the third quarter.
These defensive touchdowns kept the Tigers within striking distance of the Crimson Tide. Without them, the Tide would have rolled.
Loser: Alabama’s defense was a liability
Let’s be honest. Auburn doesn’t have an incredible offense. Heck, one former coach has called it the worst offense he’s ever seen. Coming into the game, the Tigers averaged just under 33 points per game but had been held to 20 points or less against LSU, Georgia and Florida this year.
On Saturday, the Tigers were able to make plays against Alabama’s porous defense. The Crimson Tide gave up 353 total yards, but the real issue was that the Auburn offense continued to make big plays in key moments (like this) and stayed in a comfort zone for most of the game.
Winner: Bama loss gives hope to Playoff contenders
Alabama lost, dropping its second game of the season. With that loss, and given the fact that ‘Bama won’t play next weekend for the SEC title, you can kiss the Crimson Tide’s College Football Playoff dreams goodbye.
However, on the other side of this teams under Alabama in the latest rankings have to be rejoicing at their good fate. Both No. 6 Utah and No. 7 Oklahoma (both yet to play on Saturday) are very much alive for the Playoff now that Alabama is out.
Loser: Alabama still has a kicker problem
One of the constants surrounding the Alabama football program in recent years is that, for some reason, Nick Saban can’t find a reliable kicker. That’s still the case, and on Saturday Joseph Bulova became the latest kicker to let the Crimson Tide down.
With a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, Bulova missed from 30 yards out.
This brutal shank was all the wiggle room Auburn needed to get out of the Iron Bowl with a stunning upset victory over Alabama.