NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt, trimmed in gold, learned a harsh lesson on Saturday.
Silence is golden.
Actually, no amount of pre-game chatter was entirely responsible for the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide’s 59-0 annihilation of the Commodores at Dudley Field, a cataclysm forged in years of recruiting and development. But even a slight contribution from pre-game chatter was enough to focus the Crimson Tide into a dominant performance that even pleased Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
“There’s a difference between winning and defeating your opponent,” Saban said, crediting his players. “I think they earned a lot of respect today.”
The Crimson Tide set numerous school records, including the mark for most first downs in a game (38). Perhaps more impressive was the new record for total-offense differential as UA outgained the Commodores by 599 yards, gaining 677 total yards to Vanderbilt’s 78.
Vanderbilt never entered Alabama territory. The Commodores picked up a first down on a roughing the passer penalty on their first possession, but a Kyle Shurmur pass attempt from the VU 46 was intercepted by Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison. After that came the deluge.
The Crimson Tide had 496 yards rushing, led by junior Damien Harris, who gained a career-high 151 yards on 12 carries and scored three times. Bo Scarbrough added 79 yards and 11 carries and scored twice. Starting quarterback Jalen Hurts had a quiet day statistically, rushing for 48 yards and passing for 78 but he was again turnover-free in leading Alabama to a 38-0 lead. Freshman Tua Tagovailoa handled most of the second-half duties, completing 8 of 10 passes for 103 yards and two scores, including a spectacular spin-and-throw 27-yard touchdown completion to fellow freshman Devonta Smith in the third quarter.
The 59-0 final equaled Alabama’s largest margin of victory in an SEC shutout. The Crimson Tide defeated Texas A&M by the same score in 2014.
In addition to dominating in every imaginable statistical category, Alabama even had a decided edge in fans, turning most of Vanderbilt’s home stadium a crimson hue.
“It felt like an Alabama home game out there,” said linebacker Rashaan Evans. “It was great.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.