TUSCALOOSA, Ala. _ University of Alabama senior Blake Sims might have killed any lingering doubt about who should be the starting quarterback when the Crimson Tide opens Southeastern Conference play next week.

After making his third straight start, Sims was in for all five Alabama possessions, three of which resulted in touchdowns as it took a 21-6 halftime lead against Southern Miss on Saturday. The fifth possession the Crimson Tide ran out the clock.

Sims completed 7 of 11 passes for 87 passing yards, and also had 32 rushing yards at the break.

Southern Miss opened the scoring with a 33-yard field goal at the end of a 10-yard possession, but Alabama quickly answered and took control of the game with a 22-yard touchdown reception by Amari Cooper.

It was the junior wide receiver’s 17th career touchdown, one off Dennis Homan’s record that’s stood since 1967. Cooper also moved past Ozzie Newsome (2,070, 1974-77) into third on the Alabama all-time receiving yards list.

Sims ran in a 4-yard touchdown and running back Kenyan Drake had a 1-yard plunge. The Golden Eagles added a 43-yard field goal just before halftime following a special-teams turnover at the Alabama 26.

Junior quarterback Jacob Coker did not play in the first half.

Alabama, which hosts Florida next week, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1974 SEC championship, and also former linebacker Derrick Thomas being selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Saban halftime quote: “Obviously we did some good things in the first half, but we aren’t controlling the line of scrimmage up front, and we were not able to run the football effectively. To me, they have taken away most of the easy screens. We are having to work and grind a little harder, and we aren’t executing well enough. Defensively, we are playing okay, but then they make some play that changes the field position. We haven’t been able to control the field position, and we haven’t gotten any turnovers.”