Even one-sided games are decided by key plays. Here’s a look at five of them that shaped Alabama’s 66-3 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
1. Situation: Third-and-four, Ole Miss ball at its own 30-yard line, under 10 minutes to go in the first quarter.
What happened: Levi Wallace intercepted a short pass from Rebels quarterback Shea Patterson and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to put Alabama ahead 14-0 after the extra point.
Significance: The play gave Alabama the game’s first turnover and made it clear that Patterson, the SEC’s leading passer at more than 400 yards per game, was going to have a long night.
2. Situation: First-and-10, Alabama ball at its own 35-yard line, midway through the first quarter.
What happened: Lining up quickly to snap the ball after a 17-yard completion to Calvin Ridley, Alabama went back to the pass. Quarterback Jalen Hurts found Cam Sims across the middle, and the wideout sprinted toward the right sideline and upfield for a 60-yard gain.
Significance: It was the longest pass completion to someone other than Ridley (who previously had a 78-yarder) this season, showing that UA has other pass-catching threats. It also set up a touchdown pass to Hentges two plays later to give Alabama a 21-0 lead, signaling that this was going to be a runaway victory for Alabama.
3. Situation: First-and-10, Alabama ball at the Ole Miss 18, early in the second quarter with a 21-3 lead.
What happened: Hurts passed to wide-open running back Josh Jacobs for a touchdown.
Significance: What made this play stand out was the brilliance of its design, a chance for first-year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to show off. Two wideouts lined up on the left side and ran routes across the field, clearing out a linebacker. Hurts faked a handoff to Jacobs, who carried out the play fake, then acted as if he was a blocker before releasing to find himself all alone to catch the scoring pass. It was also Jacobs’ first touchdown this season after missing the first two games with injury.
4. Situation: Third-and-six, Ole Miss ball at the Alabama 39, early in the second quarter with Alabama up 28-3.
What happened: A blitzing Minkah Fitzpatrick sacked Patterson for a 12-yard loss, ending a scoring threat.
Significance: The Rebels had moved into Alabama territory with the help of pass interference and a roughing-the-passer calls. It was the last chance Ole Miss had to try to get back into the game, and was one of five UA sacks.
5. Situation: First and 10, Alabama ball on its own 22-yard line, first play of the second half.
What happened: Damien Harris ripped through the middle for a 46-yard gain into Ole Miss territory.
Significance: Alabama, comfortably ahead by 32 points at intermission, served notice that it wasn’t looking to rest on that lead. UA stalled and had to settle for a long JK Scott field goal, but the big run made a point: the Crimson Tide wasn’t done yet.