Tide beats Auburn 26-21

AP: McElroy and Julio Jones took over without him, aided by five runs and a 17-yard catch by freshman Trent Richardson on the 15-play, 79-yard drive that consumed more than seven minutes.

McElroy, who has been criticized at times as a weak link in an offense with a powerful running game, completed his final seven passes for 62 yards on the climactic drive after opening with an incompletion. Jones made four catches, three for first downs.

Auburn fans remained in the stands for several minutes when it was over, some seemingly stunned and others applauding a closer-than-expected game, while a sizable crimson-and-white contingent celebrated. A handful of ‘Bama players later returned to the field briefly.

ALSO: No. 2 Alabama found its championship form in the nick of time.

Outplayed most of the game, the Crimson Tide stayed unbeaten with a 26-21 victory Friday over Auburn, taking the lead with a nearly perfect drive that was capped by Greg McElroy’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Roy Upchurch with 1:24 left.

Alabama (12-0, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) completed a second straight perfect regular season in the Iron Bowl, but did it the hard way against its bitter rival. The Tide fell behind in the opening minutes, but came out ahead to do its part to set up 1 vs. 2 showdown with top-ranked Florida in the SEC championship game.

But forget the national and league championship, the state title almost slipped away. (read the entire AP report embedded in this post.)