No. 11 Auburn felt like the wrong team was getting all the hype in this state, and the Tigers set out to prove it yesterday.
Unleashing a relentless pass rush, Auburn upstaged one of the nation's stingiest defenses and remained dominant in the Iron Bowl with a 28-18 win over No. 8 Alabama.
By halftime, the Tigers (9-2, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) were up 28-7 against a team that was drawing national title buzz two weeks ago. By the end, they had sacked Brodie Croyle 11 times and shut down any hint of a comeback.
"I think they got full of themselves," Auburn linebacker Travis Williams said. "They won some games this year by the skin of their teeth. We were watching it all year and we were like, 'Man, these guys keep escaping.'
"We really wanted them to be undefeated coming into this game so we could really make them look bad."
Auburn clinched at least a share of the Western Division title for the fifth time in six seasons with its second straight win over a top-10 team and fourth in a row over the team's chief rival. LSU would play for the SEC title with a win Arkansas.
With an anemic offense, Alabama (9-2, 6-2) continued a season-ending tumble with its second loss in a row after riding the nation's top scoring defense to a No. 4 ranking.
* TEXAS TECH 23, OKLAHOMA 21: Taurean Henderson was sure he scored on the final play of the Red Raiders' home game.
Still, he had a few anxious moments as officials looked at a replay to determine if the running back for 21st-ranked Texas Tech (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) had gotten over the goal line.
"I was very confident. You never know, though. I was a little nervous, too," Henderson said of his two-yard run. "I started out to score the touchdown, got hit, was laying on top of someone and just stretched out."
Henderson took the handoff with two seconds remaining and went up the middle. The play was reviewed but the touchdown call was upheld, giving Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach his first victory in six tries against former boss Bob Stoops. Leach was Oklahoma's offensive coordinator in 1999.
Stoops did not dispute the call and said it will not be used as an excuse for losing.
"I didn't see it and I'm not going to sit here and criticize," he said.
* NOTRE DAME 34, SYRACUSE 10: Brady Quinn threw two touchdown passes, and Leo Ferrine returned an interception for another score as the sixth-ranked Irish cruised at home.
Darius Walker, who rushed for 123 yards on 26 carries, added a three-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame struggled on offense, with Quinn not as sharp as he has been and receivers dropping catchable balls, but were still good enough to beat the Orange (1-9).
Notre Dame (8-2) needs to beat Stanford next week to remain eligible for its first Bowl Championship Series berth since 2000.
* LSU 40, MISSISSIPPI 7: JaMarcus Russell threw two touchdown passes and the fourth-ranked Tigers' defense smothered the host Rebels to move one step closer to the SEC championship game.
LSU (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) held Ole Miss to seven yards rushing and gave the Rebels their worst loss in Oxford in 56 years.
Now, only Arkansas stands in the Tigers' path to Atlanta. LSU can clinch its third title game berth in five seasons by beating the lowly Razorbacks this week.
* GEORGIA 45, KENTUCKY 13: In Athens, Ga., the Bulldogs finally got around to claiming a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
D.J. Shockley threw four touchdown passes, Danny Ware scored on a 52-yard run and No. 14 Georgia wrapped up the SEC East.
Georgia had squandered a pair of chances to wrap up the division title, losing to Florida and Auburn for only the second two-game losing streak since Mark Richt took over as coach in 2001.
But the Bulldogs (8-2, 6-2) rarely lose to Kentucky, winning their ninth straight in the lopsided series.
* * OREGON 56, OREGON STATE 14: Freshman Jonathan Stewart had a pair of touchdowns, including a 97-yard kickoff return to open the second half, to lift the No. 10 Ducks at home.
Stewart also ran for a one-yard touchdown in the first half as Oregon (10-1, 7-1) won its seventh straight game and kept its hopes alive for an at-large BCS bowl invitation.
It is just the second time in school history that the Ducks have won 10 regular season games. They also won 10 in 2001, when they went to the Fiesta Bowl and finished 11-1 with Joey Harrington at quarterback.
Oregon State finished at 5-6, 3-5.
* CLEMSON 13, S. CAROLINA 9: Apparently, it will take more than Steve Spurrier to end Clemson's dominance over the Gamecocks.
James Davis rushed for 145 yards, and his two-yard touchdown run lifted the visiting Tigers (7-4) to their eighth victory in nine games against No. 19 South Carolina.
Spurrier had hoped to conclude a season of success -- the Gamecocks (7-4) broke long streaks of failure with wins over Tennessee and Florida this year -- with South Carolina's first victory over Clemson since 2001.
* UAB 35, UTEP 23: Darrell Hackney threw four touchdown passes to support teammate Sam Williamson's midweek guarantee of a road victory as the Blazers beat the 24th-ranked Miners.
Reggie Lindsey caught three of Hackney's TD passes and UAB (5-5, 3-4 Conference USA) snapped UTEP's nine-game home winning streak, denying the Miners (8-2, 5-2) a chance to clinch the league's Western Division title.