Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas State Wildcats running back DJ Giddens (31) runs the ball against Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Jordan Battle (9) during the first half in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Young throws five TDs, No. 5 Alabama trounces No. 9 Kansas State

Bryce Young threw five touchdown passes and No. 5 Alabama overcame a slow start to rout No. 9 Kansas State 45-20 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Saturday in New Orleans.

Young completed 15 of 21 passes for 321 yards and the Crimson Tide (11-2) scored 35 consecutive points to take command after falling behind 10-0.

Deuce Vaughn rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown and Will Howard passed for 210 yards, but was intercepted twice for the Big 12 champion Wildcats (10-4).

Kansas State tried to regain the momentum by starting the second half with an onside kick, but Alabama recovered. Three plays later Young threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Corey Brooks for a 28-10 lead.

On the ensuing possession Brian Branch intercepted Howard, giving the Tide the ball at the Wildcats’ 17-yard line. On the next play Jase McClellan produced Alabama’s only rushing touchdown from 17 yards out for a 35-10 lead.

Kansas State’s Ty Zentner kicked a 28-yard field goal and Young threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Kobe Prentice for a 42-13 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Alabama’s Will Reichard kicked a 49-yard field goal and the Wildcats’ Jordan Schippers ran 1 yard for a touchdown to complete the scoring.

Zentner’s 41-yard field goal and Vaughn’s 88-yard touchdown run, the second-longest in Sugar Bowl history, gave Kansas State its early lead.

Young connected with Jahmyr Gibbs for 60 yards to the Wildcats’ 9, setting up his 6-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Bond. That left Kansas State with a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

A 47-yard pass from Young to Jermaine Burton set up Young’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Latu for a 14-10 lead early in the second quarter.

On the ensuing possession the Wildcats converted two third downs and two fourth downs to reach the Tide 2 late in the second quarter, but on fourth-and-goal Howard threw an incompletion.

Alabama drove 98 yards in seven plays, the last of which was Young’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Burton with 10 seconds left, giving the Tide a 21-10 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA;  Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) waves to fans as he leaves the field after defeating the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama won 49-27. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 Alabama, No. 9 K-State have plenty to prove in Sugar Bowl

Alabama fell short of its annual expectation of being in the College Football Playoff.

Kansas State exceeded all expectations by winning the Big 12 championship.

The No. 5 Crimson Tide (10-2) and the No. 9 Wildcats (10-3) enter the Sugar Bowl on Saturday afternoon from different perspectives, but both teams say that being a warm-up for the CFP doesn’t diminish the importance of their game in New Orleans.

“This is not something that is not important to us,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We have a lot that we can prove in this game.”

The Tide and the Wildcats kick off ahead of the CFP semifinal clashes as No. 3 TCU plays No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State challenges No. 1 Georgia.

Alabama, which was ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll, can show that perhaps it should have been included in the playoff on Saturday. The Tide’s losses both came on the final play of the game against Tennessee and LSU, both of which were highly ranked at the time.

“It hasn’t gone as we wanted to this season,” running back Jahmyr Gibbs said. “So, we’re trying to finish the season off right.”

Quarterback Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, and star defender Will Anderson have said they will play in the Sugar Bowl, but 15 Alabama players have entered the transfer portal, per 247Sports.

Five of the departing players are offensive linemen and five more are wide receivers, leaving the Tide thin at those spots.

“We’re going to play a really good team that plays sort of old-fashioned, tough, very disciplined, well-coached,” Saban said. “So there’s not any way to make it easy to prepare for a team like that.”

Kansas State was unranked to start the season and didn’t enter the rankings until after it improved to 3-1 with a 41-34 victory at Oklahoma on Sept. 24. But it has remained ranked ever since and secured the Sugar Bowl berth with a 31-28 overtime victory against previously unbeaten TCU in the Big 12 title game Dec. 3.

“It didn’t even feel real for the first few days,” offensive lineman Hayden Gillum said. “It’s a surreal feeling and it’s special but we’ve got a great opportunity coming up and we’re gonna make the most of it, too.”

The Wildcats have not had any opt-outs and star running back Deuce Vaughn said he won’t decide about whether to leave early for the NFL until after the Sugar Bowl.

“The Sugar Bowl has been a game that I’ve wanted to play in since I was a little kid,” Vaughn said. “Everybody wants to finish the thing the right way.”

Alabama is favored by nearly a touchdown, but Kansas State has exceeded expectations all season.

“People are saying (the Tide) are having a down year for them and the fact that it’s a down year and they’re still ranked No. 5 tells you enough about Alabama,” Wildcats quarterback Will Howard said. “We get to measure ourselves against the best and we feel like we’re one of the best too.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama wide receiver Traeshon Holden (11) breaks away from Auburn defenders including Auburn safety Zion Puckett (10) and Auburn defensive lineman Marcus Harris (50) on his way to a touchdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Alabama rolls past Auburn behind Bryce Young’s 4 TDs

Behind four touchdowns from quarterback Bryce Young, host No. 7 Alabama kept its College Football Playoff hopes alive with a 49-27 win over rival Auburn on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Young passed for 343 yards and threw three touchdowns in the first half. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner also added 48 yards and a score on the ground in the opening half.

Jermaine Burton, Ja’Corey Brooks and Traeshon Holden had touchdown receptions for the Crimson Tide (10-2). Jahmyr Gibbs had a team-high 76 yards rushing and a score. Roydell Williams also added a scoring run. Jase McClellan had a rushing and receiving score.

Quarterback Robby Ashford had a touchdown pass to Ja’Varrius Johnson and tallied 121 yards and two rushing scores for the Tigers. Tailback Jarquez Hunter recorded a team-high 134 rushing yards.

It was the first time in Auburn (5-7) history that two runners rushed for a 100 yards or more in three consecutive games.

The Tigers jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 24-yard touchdown run by Ashford. But Alabama responded when Young scored on a 5-yard run with 6:25 to go in the opening quarter. A 52-yard reception by Burton sparked the Crimson Tide’s response.

Alabama grabbed a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter when Young connected with McClellan on a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Following a fumble by Hunter in Auburn territory, Alabama went up 21-7 one play into the second quarter when Williams found the end zone from 5 yards out.

The Tigers cut the lead to 21-14 when Ashford connected with Johnson in the corner of the end zone on a beautifully thrown 20-yard wheel route.

But Alabama answered with an eight-play, 92-yard scoring drive, which was capped by a 33-yard touchdown reception by Brooks.

A 27-yard touchdown reception by Holden increased the Crimson Tide’s lead to 35-14 with less than a minute to go until halftime following a muffed punt by Keionte Scott.

After a 2-yard scoring run by McClellan on Alabama’s first drive to open the third quarter, Auburn responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive to trim the lead to 42-21.

Two fourth quarter field goals by Auburn kicker Alex McPherson and a 24-yard run by Gibbs capped the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA;  Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban looks onto the field in the fourth quarter against the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Alabama won 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

No. 8 Alabama cruises to 34-0 shutout over Austin Peay

With their backfield short-handed, Jase McClellan ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns to lead the host Alabama Crimson Tide to a 34-0 victory over Austin Peay on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The Crimson Tide (9-2), ranked No. 8 in the latest College Football Playoff standings, took care of business a week before their annual Iron Bowl matchup with rival Auburn as they hope to sneak into the playoffs if they can get some help over the final two weeks.

Austin Peay (7-4) will now wait to see if it can earn a spot in the upcoming Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Quarterback Matt DiLiello completed 20 of 32 passes for 147 yards, but was intercepted twice — first by Kool-Aid McKinstry and later by Brian Branch.

Drae McCray caught 12 passes for 92 yards to lead the Governors’ offense.

Alabama’s offense was without starting running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who sat out with an ankle injury.

It didn’t keep them from a strong start as quarterback Bryce Young directed the Tide on a 13-play, 92-yard drive to open the game, which was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by McClellan.

The Crimson Tide sputtered a bit after that both on offense and special teams for part of the first half.

A muffed punt by Alabama when the ball hit Kendrick Law on the helmet allowing the Governors to recover at the Crimson Tide 36. But Alabama’s defense stopped Austin Peay on downs inside the 5.

The Governors failed to capitalize on a Tide turnover on their ensuing possession after kicker Maddux Trujillo missed wide left on a 25-yard field goal.

Alabama began to break it open at that point as Young connected with Jermaine Burton for a 4-yard touchdown pass.

Young completed 18 of 24 passes for 221 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His second scoring toss also went to Burton from 10 yards out with 13:20 left in the fourth quarter. Burton caught all seven of his targets for 128 yards.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) passes the ball during warm up prior to the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama survives Ole Miss to return to win column

Will Reichard kicked two of his three field goals in the fourth quarter, Alabama’s defense stopped Ole Miss in the red zone late, and the No. 9 Crimson Tide held on for a 30-24 victory over the No. 11 Rebels in Oxford, Mississippi, on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide (8-2, 5-2 SEC) trailed 10-0 but fought back behind Bryce Young’s touchdowns to Cameron Latu, Jermaine Burton and Ja’Corey Brooks.

Ole Miss drove to the Alabama 14-yard-line, but on 4th-and-16 from the 20, defensive back Brian Branch broke up a pass in the end zone intended for Jonathan Mingo to seal the win with 46 seconds left.

The victory delivered the SEC West crown to LSU, which defeated Alabama and Ole Miss to earn a trip to Atlanta for the conference championship game.

Young was 21 of 33 for 209 yards and crafted his first 3-TD game since Sept. 24 against Vanderbilt when he tossed four. Jase McClellan rushed for 84 yards on 19 carries.

Jaxson Dart was 18 of 31 for 212 yards with a TD to Mingo. Malik Heath caught six passes for 123 yards, while Quinshon Judkins ran for 135 yards on 25 carries and tallied twice, giving him a school-record 15 rushing TDs in a season.

After Judkins shoved his way in for a score in the first quarter, the Rebels’ offense moved 32 yards to set up Jonathan Cruz’s 22-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.

Young put the Crimson Tide on the board at 8:55 by firing a 19-yard strike to Burton. But Otis Reese’s fumble recovery at midfield led to another Ole Miss score, as Judkins — from the wildcat formation — punched it in from a yard out for a 17-7 lead.

Alabama’s Terrion Arnold recovered a fumble at the Rebels 23, and Young found Latu for an 8-yard score with eight seconds left for a 17-14 Ole Miss halftime lead.

After Reichard tied it with a 39-yard field goal, Dart zipped a 3-yard ball to Mingo for a 24-17 advantage at 7:28. Young rolled out and tossed a 5-yarder to Brooks to knot the contest at 24 after three quarters.

Reichard connected again, from 23 yards, the visitors’ first lead with 11:19 left and added another from 49.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA;  Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Decamerion Richardson (3) brings down Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver JoJo Earle (10) during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 Alabama bounces back from loss, trounces No. 24 Mississippi St.

Bryce Young threw two touchdown passes, Alabama’s defense was dominant, and the No. 6 Crimson Tide rebounded from its first loss with a 30-6 pounding of No. 24 Mississippi State on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Young completed 21 of 35 passes for 249 yards, with scoring tosses to JoJo Earle and Traeshon Holden. Jahmyr Gibbs ran for a score for Alabama (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference).

The defense bounced back after allowing 52 points and 567 yards last week to Tennessee by grounding the visitors’ “Air Raid” offense, allowing 293 total yards and a 1-yard touchdown run by Jo’quavious Marks on the game’s final play.

Mississippi State’s Will Rogers, who has five starts this season that produced at least 313 passing yards, went 30 of 60 for 231 yards but had trouble moving into the red zone.

The victory was the Crimson Tide’s 15th consecutive win over its West Division foe, which entered as a 21-point underdog.

In the first quarter, Young capitalized on a wild scramble, finding time to hit a wide-open Earle for a 31-yard score and a 7-0 lead with 3:57 left. The Crimson Tide ran just nine plays in the opening frame and had 90 yards of offense — just 1 yard rushing.

Following a targeting call and ejection of Bulldogs safety Jackie Matthews, Gibbs ripped off a 19-yard sprint off the right side to put Alabama up 14-0 on a three-play, 74-yard drive with 11:38 left in the first half.

Like he did on his first scoring pass, Young again found time by scrambling to his right and floating a pass that Holden secured for a 6-yard score and a three-touchdown lead just over three minutes later.

Will Reichard, who missed a late, tiebreaking field goal in the 52-49 loss to the Volunteers, drilled a 50-yard attempt to make it 24-0 with just under three minutes to go in the first half.

Late in the third quarter, Alabama took advantage of a short field on a muffed punt recovered by Jaylen Moody at the Mississippi State 17. Reichard finished the series with a 33-yard kick and later added a 38-yarder.

–Field Level Media