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Final destinations undetermined for Alabama, Auburn

HUNTSVILLE – Two questions emerged for Alabama and Auburn following Saturday’s Southeastern Conference football action.

  1. Can the Crimson Tide weave its way upward in the College Football Rankings and make the national playoffs?

2. Where will the Tigers land when it rejoins the bowl lineup after sitting at home following last season?

Neither question will be answered for weeks, but until then, let the guessing and predictions begin.

Alabama (9-1) is coming off its eighth straight victory, a resounding 48-21 romp past Kentucky in Lexington that clinched the SEC West. If the No. 8-ranked Crimson Tide can win their next two three games, the first being this week at home against Chattanooga (7-3), and then at Auburn to end the regular season, the CFP hopes will certainly be in the mix against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Dec. 2.

Meanwhile, resurgent Auburn (6-4) is coming off its third straight victory in equally impressive fashion 48-10 on the road at Arkansas. The win in Fayetteville clinched bowl eligibility for the Tigers, who this week entertain New Mexico State (8-3). A win over the Aggies would make the Iron Bowl a quest not only for yearly in-state bragging rights but would also send Auburn to  a higher-tiered postseason destination.

Alabama plays the Mocs, a Football Championship Subdivision team, at 11 a.m. Saturday. The game is streaming only on SEC Network+ or ESPN+. No line has been set on the game.

“I think there’s very few people after the Texas game or South Florida game, a lot of naysayers out there never really believed in these guys, but I always believed in this team and trusted in this team that they would develop into something that’s special and it has been special,” Tide head coach Nick Saban said.

Saban said he thought Kentucky might have been a “trap game” following a big win over LSU. But quarterback Jalen Milroe continued to have a hot hand and completed 15-of-22 passes for 240 yards with six total touchdowns as the Tide avoided a letdown.

Auburn (6-4) takes on New Mexico State (8-3) at 3 p.m. on the SEC Network. The Tigers opened as a 22-point favorite. The Aggies have clinched a berth in the Conference USA title game.

Against the Razorbacks, the 2-point underdog Tigers bolted to a 21-0 lead with a touchdown run and pass by quarterback Payton Thorne, sandwiched around Keionte Scott’s 73-yard punt return for a TD to start the game.

Thorne accounted for 251 yards in total offense with four TDs, Jarquez Hunter rushed 16 times for 109 yards and Jalen McLeod had three sacks as the defense constantly harassed Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson.

“I’m just really, really proud of our young men and our staff to gain bowl eligibility on the road,’’ Tigers head coach Hugh Freeze said. “Another SEC win is something that I’m really proud of. I am just thankful. We played our most complete game of the year against a team that I thought played their best last week. I am really thrilled.

“There’s a lot of highlights, for sure. I’m thankful for our administration, our school and our fans that they’re going to experience a bowl game somewhere.”



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