OXFORD, Miss. — Alabama coach Nick Saban watched his top-ranked team fall behind by three touchdowns, then come roaring back Saturday. And when his Crimson Tide looked to be in control and leading No. 19 Mississippi by 18 points in the fourth quarter, it nearly blew it.
By the end of Alabama's 48-43 victory in an SEC showdown, weary, bleary-eyed Saban looked exhausted.
"It was an unbelievable game for fans to watch," said Saban, smiling wryly. "It was really a difficult game for an old coach to have to suffer through (Saban is 64). But we made it. I'm really proud of our players."
Alabama freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 158 yards and ran for 146 more, but it was unlikely defensive touchdowns from Jonathan Allen and Da'Ron Payne — along with a special teams score from Eddie Jackson — that proved to be the biggest plays of the game.
Ole Miss looked like it might be on its way to a third straight win over the Tide late in the second quarter. Instead, the Rebels collapsed for the second time in three games. "We scored enough points to beat an Alabama team," coach Hugh Freeze said. "But we did not stop the run, and we did not take care of the ball."
Mississippi took a 24-3 lead with 2:47 left in the first half after defensive end Marquis Haynes' big hit on Hurts forced a fumble that defensive lineman John Youngblood scooped up and ran 44 yards for a score.
But Alabama needed just three plays and 37 seconds to pull within 24-10 as Calvin Ridley ran for a 6-yard score. Ole Miss was forced to punt on the next drive; Jackson returned the punt 85 yards for a touchdown.
In 65 seconds, Alabama had turned a 21-point deficit into a manageable 24-17 game at halftime.
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly threw for a career-high 421 yards and three touchdowns, but two costly turnovers in the second half handed the game to Alabama. Kelly fumbled deep in Ole Miss territory, and Payne recovered and scored a 3-yard touchdown to tie the score at 24. In the fourth quarter, Kelly was under pressure and threw right to Allen, who ran the ball back for a 75-yard touchdown and a 48-30 Tide lead. Allen said it was his first touchdown since middle school.
No. 15 TENN. 28, Ohio 19: Joshua Dobbs threw a pair of 20-yard touchdown passes to Josh Malone and ran for a third score as the host Volunteers overcame injuries and a suspension. The Volunteers, who have won nine straight games over the past two years, must wait and see how healthy they'll be heading into next weekend's SEC opener against Florida. "We're decimated right now with injuries," coach Butch Jones said.
Tennessee played without four starters. Three were injured; defensive back Malik Foreman was suspended for a violation of team rules. During the first half, the Vols also lost to injuries cornerback Cam Sutton and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Jones said Sutton, a four-year starter, would be out for an extended period with an unspecified injury. He said he was optimistic Reeves-Maybin could return from his shoulder injury this week.
Tennessee also is waiting to learn how soon linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., defensive end LaTroy Lewis and receiver Josh Smith can return from injuries that sidelined them Saturday.
No. 17 Texas A&M 29, Auburn 16: Trevor Knight passed for 247 yards and East Lake alumnus Daniel LaCamera kicked five field goals for visiting Texas A&M.
No. 20 LSU 23, Miss. St. 20: Leonard Fournette returned from a bruised left ankle and rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Danny Etling completed 19 of 30 passes for 215 yards in his first start for host LSU, including a 37-yard touchdown strike to D.J. Chark. But the Tigers nearly squandered a comfortable lead, giving up two touchdowns with 4:10 and 3:30 left.
No. 24 Ark. 42, Texas St. 3: Austin Allen threw for 241 yards and a pair of touchdowns in less than three quarters of action for the host Razorbacks, and Rawleigh Williams topped 100 yards rushing for the second straight game, finishing with 121 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
S. Carolina 20, E. Carolina 15: After last week's loss to Mississippi State, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said he had to find players who could tackle. His defense did him even better, picking off a pass and recovering a fumble in its end zone, and getting another interception at the Gamecocks' 1-yard line. The visiting Pirates scored on only two of six trips into the red zone and didn't have a play longer than 28 yards. All that was enough to take the pressure off quarterback Brandon McIlwain in his first start. McIlwain ran for 34 yards and two touchdowns, and was 16-for-28 for 195 yards passing.
UK 62, N. Mexico St. 42: Benjamin Snell Jr. tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns on 136 yards rushing and Stephen Johnson added three scoring passes to lead host Kentucky. Drew Barker started at quarterback for Kentucky but left the game and did not return after he threw an interception on the first series. Coach Mark Stoops said Barker hurt his back. Johnson was 17-of-22 for 310 yards and added 51 yards rushing.