Amari Cooper tied his own school record with 224 yards receiving and caught three touchdown passes in No. 1
's 55-44 comeback victory over No. 15
on Saturday night in the highest-scoring Iron Bowl.
Quarterback Blake Sims and the Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1
) turned to the
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 ranking 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 threw three interceptions. Auburn's Nick Marshall had 456 yards passing, 206 to Sammie Coates.
Alabama's trip to Atlanta was sealed about 30 minutes before kickoff when
knocked off No. 4
The playoff positioning came into question after a slow start, but the Tide offense succeeded where the defense failed.
The rivalry that produced last season's most memorable play — Auburn's 109-yard return of a missed field-goal attempt on the final play — this time turned into a shootout. It showcased Sims-to-Cooper and Marshall-to-Coates with plenty of runs as well.
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. Coates scored on touchdowns of 34 and 68 yards in five catches. Auburn's D'haquille Williams, who had missed the last two games because of a knee injury, gained 121 yards in seven catches.