By darren rovell, CNN
Marlon Humphrey III made a game-winning 23-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth overtime to lift No. 3 Alabama to a wild 24-23 victory over Auburn on Friday in the Sugar Bowl.
Two late turnovers, including a fumble by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with 5 seconds left in regulation, sealed a heartbreaking ending for Auburn (8-5).
“We were going to stay on (Tagovailoa) for the rest of the game, I guess,” Alabama defensive back Ronnie Harrison said. “We saw he started to get a little flustered.”
The Crimson Tide (12-1) will face No. 5 Washington in the Peach Bowl on December 29 in Atlanta, one of three games on the first day of the college football playoff.
Auburn, one of two 7-5 teams that will play in a bowl game, will face No. 13 Florida in the New Orleans Bowl on January 2.
The Crimson Tide took control of the first half and built a 17-7 lead on touchdown passes from Tagovailoa to Henry Ruggs III and tight end Irv Smith Jr.
Alabama went up 24-7 when Tagovailoa was 3-for-3 on a 99-yard drive that was capped by a 48-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship late in the third quarter.
The Tigers trailed by that score when they jumped on a fumble by Tagovailoa near midfield to cut the deficit to 24-14 in the fourth quarter. A 39-yard field goal from Daniel Carlson with 2:31 left in regulation sent the game into overtime.
After Alabama scored in the first overtime, Auburn took the lead when John Franklin IV ran 3 yards for a touchdown, but that possession ended when Tevin Mitchel fumbled a punt return in the second overtime.
It was the second straight season Alabama opened the season with a Cotton Bowl, the other coming in 2015 against Colorado State.
This is the sixth time since 1980 that an SEC team has been ranked No. 1 in the final College Football Playoff rankings. Only Florida State in the 2012 season (1), Auburn in 2014 (2) and Alabama in 2015 (2) were unbeaten in the regular season.
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