Amari Cooper tied his own school record with 224 yards receiving and caught three touchdown passes in No. 2 Alabama’s 55-44 comeback victory over No. 15 Auburn on Saturday night in the highest-scoring Iron Bowl.
Quarterback Blake Sims and the Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) turned to the Heisman Trophy contender for touchdown strikes of 39 and 75 yards in the third quarter.
Alabama had already clinched a spot in the SEC championship game against No. 17 Missouri, and the top team in the College Football Playoff rankings scored 28 consecutive points heading into the final seconds.
Auburn (8-4, 4-4) surged ahead 36-27 before losing its third straight SEC game in a season that once also carried playoff hopes.
Sims passed for 312 yards and four touchdowns but was threw three interceptions. Auburn’s Nick Marshall had 456 yards passing, 206 to Sammie Coates.
Auburn gained 630 yards against the SEC’s top defense. Lane Kiffin’s Alabama offense racked up 539 yards.
The previous high score in the Iron Bowl came in 1969, a 49-26 Auburn victory. This one trounced that total.
Cooper, who had 13 catches, gained 141 yards in the third quarter alone. Coates scored on touchdowns of 34 and 68 yards on five catches for Auburn. Teammate D’haquille Williams, who had missed the past two games with a knee injury, gained 121 yards on seven catches.
Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon ran for 127 yards and a pair of scores.
CBSSports.com’s Jon Solomon writes the SEC could have been shut out of the inaugural college football playoff if Alabama hadn’t won on Saturday.
“No. 1 Alabama avenged the ‘Kick Six’ in typical college football fashion for the year 2014: A good, old shootout in the highest-scoring Iron Bowl ever,” Solomon writes. “It didn’t seem possible, but “Iron Bowl: The Video Game” in many ways provided a more compelling game over most of the duration than the ‘Kick Six’ last year. The SEC lives on to avoid cannibalization. Alabama plays on as the SEC’s last, best chance to make the inaugural College Football Playoff.”
NO. 1 FLORIDA STATE 24, FLORIDA 19
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Dalvin Cook ran for a career-high 144 yards and Florida State survived Jameis Winston’s struggles to beat Florida in Will Muschamp’s final game as the Gators’ coach.
The defending national champion Seminoles have won 28 games in a row, and completed consecutive undefeated regular seasons for the first time in school history. Florida State is the 16th team to accomplish the feat since 1950.
The Seminoles (12-0, No. 3 CFP) will face Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Dec. 6.
Winston threw a career-high four interceptions, including three in the first quarter. He finished 12 of 24 for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Nick O’Leary had two second-quarter touchdown catches to give Florida State a 21-9 lead.
The Gators (6-5) jumped out to a 9-0 lead, but the offense struggled. Treon Harris threw for 169 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Florida’s Austin Harder missed two second-half field goals that would have given the Gators the lead.
NO. 3 OREGON 47, OREGON STATE 19
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Marcus Mariota threw for 367 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 39 yards and two more scores to lead Oregon past Oregon State in the 118th Civil War game.
Oregon (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12, No. 2 CFP) will face Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Freshman Royce Freeman ran for 135 yards and also caught one of Mariota’s touchdown passes. Fellow freshman Charles Nelson caught two passes – both touchdowns – for 56 yards, and Byron Marshall had six catches for 131 yards and a score.
It was Oregon’s seventh straight win overall and seventh in the series against the rival Beavers (5-7, 2-7), who lost six of their last seven games and failed to become bowl eligible.
Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion finished his college career as the Pac-12’s career leader in passing yards with 13,600 and the school record-holder with 83 touchdown passes. Mannion threw for 162 yards, with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Jarmon in the third quarter.
NO. 18 MISSISSIPPI 31, NO. 4 MISSISSIPPI ST. 17
OXFORD, Miss. – Jaylen Walton had a 91-yard touchdown run and running back Jordan Wilkins threw a 31-yard scoring pass to lead Mississippi past Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.
Bo Wallace threw for 296 yards despite completing just 13 of 30 passes.
Ole Miss (9-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) led 7-3 at halftime before its offense got going in the second half. It’s the 10th time in 11 seasons the home team has won the Egg Bowl.
Wilkins’ touchdown pass to Cody Core – with 9:14 remaining – came on the second throw of his career after a pitch from Wallace, pushing the Rebels ahead by two touchdowns.
The loss by Mississippi State (10-2, 6-2, No. 4 CFP) gave Alabama the SEC Western Division title. Dak Prescott threw for 282 yards and a touchdown.
It’s the first time both teams came into the Egg Bowl ranked since 1999.
NO. 5 BAYLOR 48, TEXAS TECH 46
ARLINGTON, Texas – Bryce Petty threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns before getting knocked out of the game with a concussion and playoff hopeful Baylor held off Texas Tech.
Shock Linwood ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns for the Bears (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, No. 7 CFP), who are guaranteed at least a share of their second consecutive conference title if they win at home over No. 11 Kansas State next Saturday.
The Bears are also hoping for a much bigger prize, but the close game against Texas Tech (4-8, 2-7) likely won’t help in that quest. They were already two playoff ranking spots behind Big 12 co-leader TCU, which is coming off an impressive 48-10 Thanksgiving night romp at Texas.
Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes set a Big 12 freshman record with his 598 yards passing that included six touchdowns, the last with 1:42 left before getting sacked on a two-point try.
NO. 7 OHIO STATE 42, MICHIGAN 28
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ezekiel Elliott scored untouched on a 44-yard run on fourth-and-1 with 4:58 left to help Ohio State, without injured star quarterback J.T. Barrett, beat Michigan.
With no postseason, the only thing left to be decided for Michigan (5-7, 3-5 Big Ten) is the future of coach Brady Hoke. Interim athletic director Jim Hackett will make the call on whether the coach stays or goes.
Barrett threw for a score and ran for two before his right leg crumpled underneath him when he was tackled on a run on the first play of the fourth quarter. He broke his right ankle and will have surgery Sunday.
Cardale Jones came in for the Buckeyes (11-1, 8-0, CFP No. 6) to lead the drive that culminated in Elliott’s long run. Darron Lee returned a fumble 33 yards late to add to the lead.
Ohio State will face Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.
Hoke’s job status has been in question as the Wolverines have sagged since his 11-2 start at Michigan in 2011. The Wolverines have gone 8-5, 7-6 and 5-7 to give him a 31-20 record.
Before the game, walk-on defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge, who has been missing since earlier in the week, was recognized along with 23 other Buckeyes scheduled to appear at their final game in Ohio Stadium. A police poster showing Karageorge, with the word MISSING stamped across it in vivid color, was shown on the large video board at the south end of the field.
NO. 10 MICHIGAN STATE 34, PENN STATE 10
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – R.J. Shelton returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and Jeremy Langford ran for 118 yards and two scores in Michigan State’s victory over Penn State.
The Spartans (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten, CFP No. 10) won their third straight game and hit the double-digit win mark for the fourth time in the last five seasons under coach Mark Dantonio. The Spartans have four of their six 10-plus win seasons in school history under Dantonio.
Shelton doused the enthusiasm of the emotional senior day festivities at Beaver Stadium when he used all of 14 seconds to dart through defenders for the score.
From there, the Spartans never really dazzled against the Nittany Lions (6-6, 2-6). Connor Cook threw a 10-yard TD pass and Langford chipped in with a 3-yard score in the third quarter to methodically put it away.
NO. 11 KANSAS STATE 51, KANSAS 13
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Jake Waters threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns, two of them to record-setting wide receiver Tyler Lockett, and Kansas State routed Kansas to move into a tie atop the Big 12 standings.
Lockett caught nine passes for 119 yards, passing father Kevin Lockett for the school record in career catches and matching his mark for touchdown receptions. Lockett has 222 catches and 26 TD grabs heading into next week’s showdown at fifth-ranked Baylor.
Kansas State (9-2, No. 12 CFP) moved into a tie with TCU and Baylor at 7-1 in the conference.
Curry Sexton added nine catches for 141 yards and a score, and Waters and Charles Jones each had touchdown runs as the Wildcats beat the Jayhawks (3-9, 1-8) for the sixth straight time.
NO. 14 WISCONSIN 34, NO. 22 MINNESOTA 24
MADISON, Wis. – Melvin Gordon ran for 151 yards and accounted for two scores, and Wisconsin overcvame a two-touchdown deficit to beat Minnesota and earn a spot in the Big Ten championship game.
Joel Stave threw for 215 yards, including 160 to receiver Alex Erickson. Stave’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Robert Wheelwright with 4:41 left gave the Badgers (10-2, 7-1, CFP No. 14) a 10-point lead.
It was not easy. Physical Minnesota (8-4, 5-3) let a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter slip away. David Cobb ran for 118 yards on 25 carries, including a 40-yard score.
NO. 16 GEORGIA TECH 30, NO. 8 GEORGIA 24, OT
ATHENS, Ga. – Harrison Butker kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, and D.J. White picked off a pass in overtime to preserve Georgia Tech’s victory over Georgia.
Georgia Tech (10-2, CFP No. 16) trailed 24-21 after Hutson Mason threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell on fourth down with 18 seconds left. But the Yellow Jackets wound up with good field position after a squib kickoff, Justin Thomas scrambled 21 yards into field goal range, and Butker’s kick barely cleared the crossbar.
Zach Laskey put Georgia Tech ahead with his third touchdown run of the game in overtime, but Butker’s extra point was blocked. The Bulldogs (9-3, CFP No. 9) had a chance to win it as they faced second-and-goal at the 9.
Mason again tried to hit Mitchell on a quick slant. This time, White stepped in to make the interception, ending a game that featured a bit of everything.
NO. 23 CLEMSON 35, SOUTH CAROLINA 17
CLEMSON, S.C. – Artavis Scott had two long touchdown catches, Wayne Gallman ran for 191 yards and Clemson ended a five-game losing streak to rival South Carolina.
The Tigers (9-3) hadn’t beaten the Gamecocks (6-6) since 2008, an unprecedented run of failure that overshadowed their 32-8 record the past three seasons. This time, Clemson showed off a perked up offense bolstered by the return of freshman starter Deshaun Watson at quarterback.
Watson threw two inside flip passes that Scott turned into touchdowns of 53 and 70 yards. The second one gave the Tigers a 28-10 lead that South Carolina couldn’t overcome.
Watson finished 14 of 19 for 269 yards and two rushing TDs in first significant action since defeating North Carolina State on Oct. 4. Scott had seven catches for 185 yards.
NO. 24 LOUISVILLE 44, KENTUCKY 40
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Brandon Radcliff ran 4 yards for a touchdown with 2:47 remaining and safety Gerod Holliman had an NCAA record-tying 14th interception with 35 seconds left, helping Louisville beat Kentucky.
No lead was safe in a back-and-forth game between rivals that got physical before kickoff. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino grabbed the jacket of Wildcats assistant Daniel Berezowitz during one pregame scuffle.
The game was equally as charged. There were four fourth-quarter lead changes alone. The Cardinals (9-3) ultimately got the last word by driving 81 yards for the winning score that capped their fourth and final comeback against the Wildcats (5-7).
Kentucky’s last possession ended with Holliman picking off Patrick Towles and returning it 65 yards to the 2 before Louisville ran out the clock and sparked a celebration.