Alabama finished its first losing season in 27 years by upsetting Auburn, 17-15, yesterday in Birmingham on two touchdown runs by Paul Ott Carruth and Van Tiffin's 52-yard field goal.

No. 11 Auburn (8-4), bumped out of a Sugar Bowl berth by the loss to Alabama, will meet Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl. Louisiana State will represent the Southeastern Conference in the Sugar Bowl against Nebraska. For the first time since 1959, Alabama (5-6) will not be going to a bowl game.

The Auburn game, said Alabama Coach Ray Perkins, "is a season in itself . . . . (Winning) will make recruiting easier and it will be easier to live around here the next 364 days."

Alabama's defense preserved the victory by stopping Brent Fullwood on fourth and goal from the one with 3:27 left after the losers disdained a field goal. Fullwood's 60-yard touchdown run with 9:11 remaining set up the dramatic finish.

Auburn had one final chance, but Robert McGinty's 42-yard field goal attempt with nine seconds left went wide left.

Carruth's six-yard run on the second play of the second period, plus Tiffin's conversion, erased a 7-0 Auburn lead. The Tigers had driven 80 yards in 12 plays on their first possession, with Bo Jackson scoring from two yards.

Carruth scored again on a four-yard run at 3:09 of the third period.

Tiffin's field goal with 5:09 left gave Alabama a 17-7 lead.

The Tigers revived when Fullwood, on third and seven at his 40, took a pitchout down the right sideline, broke a tackle as he crossed the 10 and scored. Jackson's conversion run made it 17-15.

The goal-line stand came after Mike Shula's pass deflected off Moore's hands, was intercepted by Kevin Greene and returned nine yards to the Alabama 17.

Alabama is 29-19-1 in the rivalry.