Davis lifts Auburn past 'Bama

JOHN ZENOR AP Sports Writer Published:

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- That crazy tipped pass for a long game-winning touchdown is now the second-most stunning and improbable play of Auburn's wild season.

Yes, the Tigers found a way to top "The Immaculate Deflection."

Chris Davis returned a missed field-goal attempt more than 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play to lift No. 4 Auburn to a 34-28 victory over No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, upending the two-time defending national champions' BCS hopes and preserving the Tigers' own.

"We're a team of destiny," Davis said. "We won't take no for an answer."

He delivered a play that deserves its own nickname. Say the Happiest Return. Or the saddest, depending on which side of the Iron Bowl you sit.

Davis caught the ball about 9 yards deep in the end zone after freshman Adam Griffith's 57-yard attempt fell short. He then sprinted down the left sideline and cut back with nothing but teammates around him in a second straight hard-to-fathom finish for the Tigers (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference).

"I knew when I caught the ball I would have room to run," Davis said. "I knew they would have big guys on the field to protect on the field goal.

"When I looked back, I said, 'I can't believe this.'"

Auburn clinched a spot in the SEC championship game with the stunning victory over the powerhouse from across the state. The Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1) several times seemed poised to continue its run toward the first three-peat in modern college football, but couldn't put the Tigers away.

Asked if it was the biggest win of his career, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said: "It ranks right up there." But he said he'd "probably" still celebrate just like he has since his high school coaching days: With a Waffle House meal.

"That's what you coach for, that's what these kids play for, to get a chance to win the SEC championship," Malzahn said.

The Tigers put it away just when overtime on tap. The public address announcer in the stadium had already declared the game 28-28 at the end of regulation.

But Alabama got 1 second restored and one more play after a review of T.J. Yeldon's run to the Auburn 39.

That gave the Tide coach Nick Saban a chance to try the long field goal -- and now he probably wished he never did, given the stunning result.

"It was a great game," Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron said. "Sometimes luck just isn't on your side.

"It's one of those crazy plays. It's almost like a video game. That's something you do on Madden or NCAA. It's just a wild play."

The entire field looked like a sea of orange shakers as the celebration continued long after the climactic finale of one of the biggest Iron Bowls in the bitter rivalry's 78-year history.

It lived up to the billing -- and then some. According to NCAA records, it was only the fourth time that a missed field goal was returned for 100 yards, with LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. doing it against UAB early this season.

TOP 25

No. 2 FLORIDA ST. 37, FLORIDA 7

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes to Kelvin Benjamin, and No. 2 Florida State moved a step closer to playing for the national championship with a victory against rival Florida.

The Seminoles improved to 12-0 for the first time since 1999 and likely will earn a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game by beating Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game next Saturday.

Florida, meanwhile, ended its worst season since 1979.

The Gators (4-8) lost their final seven games and missed a bowl for the first time since 1990. Florida's bowl streak had been the second-longest in the country, behind Florida State.

No. 9 BAYLOR 41, TCU 38

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Bryce Petty threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, Baylor returned two interceptions for scores and the No. 9 Bears hung on for a 41-38 victory over TCU.

The Bears (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) scored 21 straight points on either side of halftime with just 1 yard from their high-powered offense and bounced back from a blowout loss at Oklahoma State to maintain their hopes for a share of the conference title.

Baylor could win the league outright and qualify for a BCS bid, likely the Fiesta Bowl, if it beats Texas and the Cowboys lose to Oklahoma next Saturday.

The Horned Frogs (4-8, 2-7) were in position to tie in the final seconds, but Casey Pachall threw his third interception on a pass tipped by receiver Brandon Carter and grabbed by Baylor's Terrell Burt in the end zone with 11 seconds left.

No. 11 MICHIGAN ST. 14, MINN. 3

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Jeremy Langford ran for 134 yards and a touchdown, and No. 11 Michigan State wrapped up an unbeaten regular season in Big Ten play with a victory over Minnesota.

The Spartans (11-1, 8-0) finished a perfect Big Ten regular season for only the third time. They also did it in 1965 and 1966, when they only had to play seven conference games.

Michigan State will face Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game next weekend. The Spartans had already wrapped up the Legends Division title, but there was no letdown against Minnesota (8-4, 4-4).

PENN STATE 31, No. 14 WISCONSIN 24

MADISON, Wis. -- Christian Hackenberg threw for 339 yards and four touchdowns, and Penn State pounced on a slew of blunders before holding off a late rally to upset No. 14 Wisconsin, 31-24.

Hackenberg, a freshman, showed the poise of a veteran in dissecting a tough defense. Eugene Lewis caught two touchdowns, including a 59-yarder for a 17-point lead with 13 minutes to go.

The Nittany Lions (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) secured a statement win against a team that had been dominant all year at home. Joel Stave threw for three touchdowns for Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2), though Penn State capitalized on second-half interceptions, turning one into Lewis' long TD.

No. 24 DUKE 27, N. CAROLINA 25

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Ross Martin kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2:22 left and No. 24 Duke beat North Carolina, completing the Blue Devils' improbable run to reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Anthony Boone threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns to Jamison Crowder as the Blue Devils (10-2, 6-2 ACC) clinched the Coastal Division championship with their eighth straight victory. DeVon Edwards' interception with 13 seconds left clinched the long-suffering program's first 10-win season.

Duke will face No. 2 Florida State next weekend in Charlotte, where the heavy underdog Blue Devils will go for their first ACC crown since 1989.

BIG TEN

INDIANA 56, PURDUE 36

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Tre Roberson threw a career-high six touchdown passes, three to Shane Wynn, and the Hoosiers recaptured the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time in three years with a 56-36 win over Purdue.

The Hoosiers (5-7, 3-5) finished the season the same way they started -- with a record-setting performance against an in-state foe. They produced their highest point total in the 116-game series and won by 20 or more points for only the seventh time in series history. Plus, the Hoosiers broke the school record for points in a season (463) and extended the school's single-season marks for total TDs (62) and TD passes (36).

Purdue (1-11, 0-8) has now lost 10 straight, the second longest skid in school history. It lost 11 straight from 1906-08.

NORTHWESTERN 37, ILLINOIS 34

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Northwestern backup quarterback Trevor Siemian threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns and Christian Jones caught 13 balls for 182 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wildcats past Illinois 37-34 in the finale for both teams.

Siemian started for the injured Kain Colter and was 31-44.

The win ended a seven-game losing streak for Northwestern (5-7, 1-8 Big Ten)

The Wildcats gashed an Illinois defense that has given up big yards and points all season. Northwestern's 560 total yards made it the fifth team to top 500 yards against Illinois (4-8, 1-8).

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was 31-45 for 307 yards and two touchdowns in his last game at Illinois. His one interception was a game-changer.

FRIDAY'S GAME

IOWA 38, NEBRASKA 17

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Jake Rudock threw for two touchdowns, including a 24-yarder to Kevonte Martin-Manley right after Iowa had stuffed Nebraska on a fake punt, and the Hawkeyes finished the regular season with a 38-17 victory on Friday.

Iowa (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) doubled its win total from a year ago and won a fourth road game for the first time since 2009. Mark Weisman ran 24 times for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Rudock left late in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury.

The Huskers (8-4, 5-3) had their lowest regular-season win total since 2008, coach Bo Pelini's first year, and lost three games at home for the first time since 2007 under Bill Callahan.

MAC

FRIDAY'S GAMES

BALL ST. 55, MIAMI (OH) 14

MUNCIE, Ind. -- Keith Wenning passed for 445 yards and six touchdowns in Ball State's systematic destruction of Miami (Ohio).

Ball State (10-2, 7-1 MAC) rolled up 585 total yards of offense and had three receivers catch touchdown passes and eclipse 100 yards receiving. Jamill Smith caught seven balls for 127 yards and three TDs, Jordan Williams made five catches for 161 yards and a pair of scores and Willie Snead hauled in 11 passes for 133 yards and one TD.

The Cardinals raced out to a 35-0 halftime lead, including Wenning's 72-yard pass-and-run to Williams, before Miami (0-12, 0-8) finally got on the board in the third on Drew Kummer's 58-yard scoring strike to Dawan Scott.

BOWLING GREEN 24, BUFFALO 7

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Another dominant third-quarter performance has Bowling Green playing for the Mid-American Conference championship.

Bowling Green will meet No. 18 Northern Illinois in the conference championship game after securing the MAC East division title Friday with a 24-7 win over Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Having managed just seven first downs on first seven possessions and trailing 7-3 at halftime, the Falcons (9-3, 7-1 MAC) scored touchdowns on consecutive drives in the third quarter to pull away from the Bulls (8-4, 6-2 MAC) on the scoreboard and in the standings.

AKRON 31, TOLEDO 29

AKRON -- Bryce Cheek broke up a 2-point conversion pass and Andrew Pratt recovered the ensuing onside kick as Akron denied a Toledo comeback 31-29 in the final minute.

Kyle Pohl passed for 259 yards and three touchdowns as the Zips (5-7, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) closed the season with three straight wins.

Toledo (7-5, 5-3), previously knocked out of the Mid-American race, was hoping to improve its bowl chances with eight wins. Terrance Owens answered Pohl with two scores in the final 5:37, hitting Bernard Reedy from the 28, and guiding a 10-play drive capped by a Marc Remy run from the 3 with 59 seconds left before Cheek and Pratt saved the win.

OHIO 51, UMASS 23

ATHENS -- Beau Blankenship rushed for 124 yards and a 50-yard touchdown as Ohio cruised to a 51-23 win over Massachusetts Friday.

Tyler Tettleton passed for 246 yards and two touchdowns as Ohio (7-5, 4-4 MAC) outgained UMass (1-11, 1-7) 461 to 290.

C. MICHIGAN 42, E. MICHIGAN 10

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- Zurlon Tipton ran for four touchdowns on Friday to lead Central Michigan in a 42-10 victory over Eastern Michigan and become bowl eligible in the Mid-American Conference for the second-straight season.

Tipton ran for 216 yards and scored back-to-back-to-back touchdowns in the first half to jump the Chippewas (6-6, 5-3) to a 21-0 lead. His third touchdown was on an 86-yard run and he finished the half with 134 yards.

Eastern Michigan (2-10, 1-7) drove down the field for 85 yards in 55 seconds to score its first touchdown, making the score 21-10, before the end of the first half.

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