For those expecting an encore to the Alabama-Ole Miss trilogy from 2014-16 that captivated a college football-watching nation, it was a disappointing evening inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
For television executives hoping a close game would keep viewers glued to their televisions, for the second straight week casual-fan viewers had changed the channel by the end of the first quarter.
Alabama played the part of a well-oiled offensive machine en route to a dominating 66-3 over the Rebels on Saturday night.
The excitement was tempered a bit by the gruesome-looking knee injury to senior defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand, who was carted off the field after an Ole Miss offensive lineman went low on a block in the third quarter.
UA coach Nick Saban said Hand sustained a “MCL sprain” and will be evaluated Sunday. Defensive back Trevon Diggs sustained a foot injury and will also be evaluated Sunday.
Aside from the injuries and seven penalties, everything came up crimson for the home team.
“We had some dropped balls, we had some miscues, we had too many penalties, bull all in all I thought the players responded well,” Saban said.
It started with 21 points in the first quarter, a continuation of the team’s fast-start ability it’s showcased nearly all season. Alabama has outscored its opponents 76-6 in the first quarter and 128-23 in the first half this season. Dating to the Fresno State game, the Crimson Tide has scored 10 touchdowns in the first quarter. Over its last two contests, Alabama has brutalized its opponents 125-3. It has outscored its three Power 5 opponents 149-10.
It ended with a defensive performance that shuttered Ole Miss’ high-flying aerial attack.
Consider the numbers with which the Rebels’ offense came to Tuscaloosa. Thirty-six points per game. Four-hundred and twenty-seven yards passing a game. A SEC-best 7.53 yards per play.
The offense in the baby-blue helmets left town humbled, scoring only three points and throwing for 165 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Former walk-on cornerback Levi Wallace snagged his second- and third-career interceptions, taking one 35 yards for a touchdown that put Alabama ahead by 14 in the first quarter.
Hale Hentges made it 21-0 when he was left wide open after a perfectly executed play-action pass from quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Hurts left the game in the third quarter, giving way to freshman Tua Tagovailoa, but before exiting with 293 total yards and three touchdowns. He ran for 101 yards and a score and completed 12 of 19 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
Nine different players scored touchdowns and a total of 10 scored points when you consider the field goals of Andy Pappanastos and JK Scott.
Just as the week before, the backup players got plenty of action, including Tagovailoa, who threw for a touchdown and showed that he has a running game that must be respected. He ran for 37 yards on four carries, including a long of 16 yards.
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.