TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Matt Caddell caught a 4-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone from John Parker Wilson with 8 seconds left, lifting Alabama to a 41-38 victory over No. 16 Arkansas on Saturday night, for the first major win of the Nick Saban era.
The Crimson Tide (2-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) moved from its own 27-yard line with 2:13 left after twice blowing 21-point leads, mostly on the Wilson-to-Caddell connection.
Wilson hit Caddell across the middle for a 19-yard completion and two 9-yarders to move the ball across midfield. Arkansas' Kevin Woods and Matterral Richardson were both whistled for pass interference, Richardson on a third-and-9 play. That set Alabama up with a first down at the 13, and Wilson hit Keith Brown for a 9-yarder.
Wilson found a leaping Caddell in the left side of the end zone, sending the crowd into a frenzy and prompting a celebratory pileup on the receiver.
The Tide's decision to settle for Leigh Tiffin's 42-yard field goal to make it 38-34 paid off with a defensive stop, setting up the winning drive. Tiffin had missed three field goals and an extra point in the Razorbacks' double-overtime, 24-23 win last season, but came through this time.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 19, AUBURN 14
AUBURN, Ala. - Sylvester Croom is getting tired of hearing the word "upset" when his team wins a big Southeastern Conference game.
That word was used Saturday when reporters asked the SEC's first black coach about his team's 19-14 win at Auburn.
"Not to us it wasn't," Croom said. "We felt like it was a dead-even game coming in. I am sure some people would call it an upset, but we don't care, we know who we are."
Upset or not, it was another big win for Croom in his home state. Croom is a former Alabama player and assistant coach and his Bulldogs defeated the Crimson Tide 24-16 last year in Tuscaloosa.
Croom, in his fourth year at Mississippi State with an 11-26 record, said he also doesn't consider the win a personal victory.
"I told them (the players) that it wasn't for me and that I had been here before. I have beaten Auburn lots of times," Croom said, referring to his years at Alabama.
Christian Ducre scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:15 to play and Mississippi State stopped Auburn inside the 10 in the final seconds.
Mississippi State (2-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) had lost six in a row against Auburn.
It was the second consecutive upset at home for the Tigers (1-2, 0-1), who were beaten by South Florida 26-23 in overtime last week.
NO. 2 LOUISIANA STATE 44, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 0
Ryan Perrilloux looked nothing like a backup quarterback in his first career start for LSU as the threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns.