OXFORD, Miss. — The Ole Miss Rebels had a plan. A dream, actually. For eleven seconds, there seemed to be a chance that it might come true.
In the 12th second, after a game-opening touchdown pass, the Rebels kicked off to Alabama.
So much for the dream.
The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide proceeded to score 62 unanswered points, smashing Ole Miss for a second straight year in a 62-7 rout that had the Rebel faithful headed to The Grove before halftime, shaking their head at what they had witnessed and wondering why they were all wearing powder blue golf shirts.
“I liked the way we responded,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said in his postgame press conference.
On the first play from scrimmage, Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu competed a 75-yard touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf who had gotten past Alabama defensive back Saivion Smith.
After that came the deluge. The Crimson Tide (3-0, 1-0 SEC) scored seven straight touchdowns in the remainder of the half, two engineered by starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and two more coming with junior Jalen Hurts in the game.
Tagovailoa, who played less than a half, competed 11 of 15 passes for 191 yards and two scores, while rushing five times for 47 more. He did not play in the final 35 minutes, due to a combination of leg cramps and Saban’s sense of enough being enough.
Hurts was 7 of 10 passing for 85 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. The Crimson Tide’s No. 3 quarterback, Mac Jones, played the majority of the second half.
Sophomore Jerry Jeudy caught two of the touchdowns, one from Tagovailoa and Hurts. He also set a personal record with 136 yards receiving on three catches.
Damien Harris (43-yard run), Najee Harris (10-yard run), Irv Smith, Jr. (12-yard reception), Josh Jacobs (4-yard run) and Henry Ruggs III (13-yard reception) had the other first-half touchdowns. The 49 first-half points marked the highest halftime total for Alabama since 1990 (52 against Vanderbilt) and the third-best total in school history.
As impressive as the offensive explosion was, Alabama may have been more impressive on defense. After the initial 75-yard strike, Alabama allowed less than three yards per play (173 yards on 58 plays) and did not allow Ole Miss to reach the red zone. Particularly overwhelmed was Ta’amu, who completed just 7 of 22 passes for 133 yards — only 58 after the opening play — and two interceptions.
“We had our chances early but we let it get away and it snowballed on us,” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said. “They’re a good team. You can’t play a team like Alabama and have the mistakes we had.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.