AUBURN — In one of the wildest Iron Bowls in a decade of wild Iron Bowls, it once again came down to a field goal that never made it through the uprights.
Six years to the day of the famous "Kick-Six" return by Auburn's Chris Davis, Alabama kicker Joseph Bulovas added his name to the wrong side of the rivalry as he missed a potential game-tying 30-yard field with 2 minutes remaining as No. 5 Alabama fell 48-45 to No. 15 Auburn.
Here are three takeaways from Alabama’s 48-45 loss in the Iron Bowl:
1. Najee Harris paces Tua-less Tide
Rather than putting the game in Mac Jones’ hands, Alabama did the smart thing and tried to run through its talented tailback Najee Harris.
Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian fed Harris five of the team’s first seven offensive plays for 59 yards before the opening drive stalled requiring a 43-yard field goal by kicker Joseph Bulovas for a 3-0 lead with 8:27 left in the opening quarter.
Harris continued his charge with 91 total yards in the first quarter and then had 107 by halftime, including a 6-yard touchdown run for a 10-7 lead with 10:16 left in the second quarter.
Harris finished tying his career-high with 146 rushing yards on 27 carries for his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season. He now has 1,088 rushing yards on the season.
2. Jones responds to costly mistakes
There’s no question Mac Jones was less than perfect in his first career road start inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
In fact, it was a pair of interception returns for touchdowns that routinely let the host Tigers steal momentum in the second and third quarters Saturday.
But each time he made a mistake, Jones responded with points of his own, including leading a four-play 37-yard scoring drive on his next opportunity that was capped by a 3-yard touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs.
Following a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Auburn’s Zakoby McClain with 6:31 left in th third quarter, Jones answered back on a five-play 63-yard drive that was capped by a 12-yard touchdown to Waddle to go back on top 38-37 with 4:57 left in the frame.
3. Again, kicking woes hurt Tide
Alabama doesn’t have a good history with kickers, especially in the Iron Bowl.
Joseph Bulovas continues that trend Saturday when the redshirt sophomore missed a gimme 30-yard field goal with 2 minutes remaining that would’ve potentially tied the game at 48-all and possibly forced overtime.
Instead, as it did in 2013 — exactly six years ago — a field goal doomed the Tide.
Bulovas previously made a 42-yard field goal to cap Alabama’s first offensive series in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, Auburn kicker Anders Carlson made all four of his field goals from 43, 52, 43 and 44 yards in the win.