NASHVILLE — Mackenzi Adams came off the bench and threw for 153 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 19 Vanderbilt beat 13th-ranked Auburn 14-13 Saturday to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1943.
"People can think what they want to think," linebacker Chris Marve said. "We just want to show the country we're a different Vanderbilt."
The Commodores improved to 3-0 in the SEC for only the third time ever — the first since 1950. The win keeps them undefeated atop the East and ends a 13-game skid to Auburn. It was Vandy's first win in the series since the 1955 Gator Bowl and the fewest points Auburn has scored in this series since that bowl game.
"This is what coaches live for," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. "I live to walk into the locker room and see how happy our players are."
Trying to preserve a one-point lead, Vandy had to punt the ball to Auburn with 2:16 left, but Brett Upson kicked it 55 yards and Alan Strong downed it at the Tigers 3. On the next play, Myron Lewis intercepted Chris Todd's pass intended for Rodgeriqus Smith.
The difference in the game was Wes Byrum's missed extra point in the first quarter, but Vandy outgained the Tigers 263-208, and a defense that had led the SEC in sacks coming in added five more.
The Tigers scored 13 in 60 seconds in the first quarter, and Vandy quarterback Chris Nickson left after aggravating an injured right shoulder.
After Vandy returned a punt 25 yards to the Auburn 30, Adams completed four passes for 41 yards, the last a 15-yarder to Justin Wheeler for a TD with 39 seconds left in the first half.
Vandy missed a 40-yard field goal on its opening drive of the second half, but Adams drove the Commodores 68 yards in eight plays helped by a couple of Auburn penalties. Adams found Brandon Barden on a 1-yard TD pass to tie, and Bryant Hahnfeldt's extra point made it 14-13 with 7:09 left in the third.
Alabama squeaks by
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama discovered how precarious life at the top can be, sidestepping an upset with a bruising drive and a late field goal.
Glen Coffee rushed for 218 yards, Leigh Tiffin kicked a 24-yard field goal with 2:12 left to put the Crimson Tide up 10, and No. 2 Alabama survived with a 17-14 win over Kentucky.
"We're certainly happy to win, but we also put on a clinic today for how to keep the other team in the game," coach Nick Saban said after the Tide survived three turnovers and a season-high 10 penalties a week after racing to a 31-0 halftime lead at Georgia.
The Tide pounded out a 15-play drive to set up the clinching field goal. Coffee gained 57 yards on the drive, which ate up 8:10.
The Wildcats' Mike Hartline hit DeMoreo Ford for a 48-yard touchdown pass with 40 seconds left, but the onside kick attempt went out of bounds.
S. Carolina 31, Ole Miss 24: Chris Smelley passed for a career-high 327 yards and three touchdowns, and led a 95-yard clinching drive that helped the visiting Gamecocks to their first SEC win.
Coach Steve Spurrier, who didn't announce who would start until Thursday, had yanked Smelley early against Alabama-Birmingham a week ago. Redshirt freshman and former Jefferson star Stephen Garcia played well in the 26-13 win, but Smelley rallied the Gamecocks from a 14-3 hole against the Rebels.
"Chris threw a lot of good ones today," Spurrier said. "That (95)-yard drive was the longest we've had around here in a long time."
After Ole Miss downed a punt at the 5, Smelley and tailback Mike Davis led an 11-play drive. Davis rushed for 28 yards on the drive and Smelley hit 5 of 6 passes for 54 yards, including a 4-yard TD pass to Joe Hills.
Tenn. 13, N. Illinois 9: Nick Stephens threw a 52-yard touchdown to Denarius Moore, and the new quarterback helped the host Vols slip past Northern Illinois. Stephens' third-quarter TD pass put the Vols up 13-3. Coach Phillip Fulmer named Stephens the starter Friday in hopes of sparking an offense that had been anemic behind Jonathan Crompton. Tennessee still struggled, converting three of its 13 third downs and picking up only nine first downs.