FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Trailing on the road against one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, No. 1 Alabama escaped by doing what it does best: making big plays on defense and giving the ball to Mark Ingram.
Last season's Heisman Trophy winner ran for 157 yards and scored on a 1-yard run with 3:18 to play. And two first-year starters in the secondary made late interceptions to help the top-ranked Crimson Tide rally from a 13-point deficit and beat No. 10 Arkansas 24-20 on Saturday.
Robert Lester set up the winning score with his second interception of the day against Ryan Mallett, and Dre Kirkpatrick's pick put the Tide in position to run out the clock on their 18th straight victory.
"We just had our focus on going out there and executing, and we played with a lot of heart and a lot of intensity and determination," Ingram said. "It's big for this team to have a situation like that and persevere like that."
The young secondary, with Mark Barron as the only returning starter from last season's national title team, had been surrounded by questions leading up to a showdown with Mallett, who entered as the nation's leading passer.
Mallett put up 357 yards on 25-of-38 passing, but the Tide's defense came up with the big plays down the stretch.
Lester returned his second interception 33 yards to the Arkansas 12, and Ingram got the ball on three straight plays for the go-ahead score.
"We're going to finish," said Lester, who has four interceptions this season. "We're never going to lay down and just let them beat us.
"We're always going to play until that final whistle blows."
The Crimson Tide was able to run out the final 1:48 after Mallett threw his third interception, which came when Kirkpatrick kept his feet inbounds while reaching to catch an attempted throwaway on the right sideline. Alabama faced fourth and inches in its own territory, but Greg McElroy picked it up with a sneak with 54 seconds left.
"If it takes this to be a champion, that's what we've got to do," Kirkpatrick said.
That sent Arkansas and its record home crowd of 76,808 away disappointed in the biggest game on campus in decades.
"We came out and competed extremely hard," Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino said. "We did a good job in the first half of getting the lead and getting turnovers, and then we just couldn't find a way to win it in the fourth quarter. We certainly had our chances."
Tigers edge 'Cocks
AUBURN, Ala. — Cam Newton rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns and passed for two as No. 17 Auburn defeated No. 12 South Carolina 35-27.
Auburn overcame a double-digit halftime deficit for the second straight week after falling behind 20-7. Both of Newton's touchdown passes came in the fourth after fumbles by South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia.
South Carolina twice drove into Auburn territory in the final minutes behind freshman backup Connor Shaw, but he was intercepted both times. Demond Washington picked off a pass that deflected off the hands of receiver Alshon Jeffery in the end zone with 33 seconds left to seal it.
Tenn. 32, UAB 29 2OT: The host Vols played poorly on defense the entire game and struggled on offense after halftime. But Denarius Moore caught a 25-yard touchdown from Matt Simms on the first play of the second overtime. "We just kept fighting," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "That's the only thing we did well. We didn't tackle. We didn't line up right. We blew coverages. We didn't catch. We didn't run routes right. We didn't run the ball well. We did nothing well except we kept fighting, and that's what gave us a chance."
Miss. St. 24, Georgia 12: Chris Relf rushed for 97 yards and threw for 135 and a touchdown for the host Bulldogs, who ended a nine-game skid in the series dating to 1974. Mississippi State broke it open with two touchdowns late to stretch a 10-6 lead to 24-6. Georgia has lost three in a row for the first time since 1990 and is 0-3 in the SEC for the first time since 1993.
Ole Miss 55, Fresno St. 38: Brandon Bolden rushed for 228 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half, for the host Rebels. Ole Miss rolled up 578 yards of offense, including 425 on the ground, against the previously unbeaten Bulldogs. And it scored on six of its first seven possessions to take a 41-10 lead early in the third.