Rapid Reaction: Good luck, world. No. 1 Alabama looks utterly, unfairly unstoppable
There was no suspense, no easing in.
For those old enough to remember the first few rounds of Hagler vs. Hearns, the first quarter of Saturday’s Alabama vs. Ole Miss game was a stroll down memory lane.
Ole Miss scored on the first play from scrimmage, a 75-yard straight right from Jordan Ta’amu to D.K. Metcalf, who raced past Saivion Smith and reinforced, in case there was any confusion, this was, indeed, exactly how Matt Luke drew it up.
Alabama, shaken and disturbed, dusted itself off and immediately went to the body. On the Tide’s third play, Damien Harris ran around the right edge 43 yards for a tying touchdown.
Not even 90 seconds in, there were fireworks in Oxford.
They continued, off and on and almost exclusively in the Tide’s favor, for the following 58 minutes as No. 1 Alabama rolled to a record-setting 62-7 victory.
The Tide took the lead for good on their third possession, when Tua Tagovailoa hit Jerry Jeudy in stride for a 79-yard touchdown.
The game’s first three TDs covered 75, 43 and 79 yards.
When Najee Harris ran 10 yards off tackle and dived into the end zone to extend Alabama’s cushion to 21-7, you wished the play would have started at midfield.
Not that Ole Miss had other solid options, but by the time Ta’amu dropped back again, Alabama was in prevent mode. Deionte Thompson intercepted Ta’amu’s deep pass in Tide territory and returned it to the Ole Miss 15. Three plays later, Tagovailoa hit Irv Smith for a 12-yard touchdown … and Alabama was on pace to score 100.
Alabama topped 50 for the third consecutive game — the first time in SEC history a team has done that to start a season — but the only mystery surrounding that number was whether they’d reach it in the first half. (They fell short, leaving them something to work on next week.)
Alabama’s pace slowed a bit — a missed field goal contributed to the brief scoring pause — but Jalen Hurts made short work of the Rebels’ defense just seconds into his third appearance of the season.
Hurts’ 22-yard touchdown pass to Jeudy made it 42-7 with just under 5 minutes remaining in the half. It was Jeudy’s second TD catch of the night — the third consecutive game he achieved that.
That 30-yard scoring drive — set up by Jaylen Waddle’s dazzling 37-yard punt return — consumed all of 54 seconds.
That was par for the night: Alabama’s first 7 TD drives took, in order: 1 minute and 10 seconds; 1:09; 0:59; 2:26; 0:50; 1:44; and 0:54.
Care to guess what happened when Alabama got the ball back with just under 3 minutes left in the opening half?
The Tide needed 1:52 to go 50 yards. Hurts hit Henry Ruggs III on a slant and Ruggs did the rest, barreling into three defenders as he crossed the goal line.
In case there was any doubt about a halftime hangover, Josh Jacobs took the opening kick of the third quarter and raced 74 yards.
Ole Miss tackled him at the 23, but that merely delayed the inevitable. It took longer than usual, and required the help of a pass interference, but Alabama crashed the 50-point barrier when Joseph Bulova made a 20-yard field goal.
Alabama reestablished a season-high for points when Xavier McKinney read Ta’amu, stepped in front of his pass and returned it 25 yards to make it 59-7. That was Alabama’s third pick-six this season and fourth non-offensive touchdown, completely unfair considering the offense has shown zero signs it needs any help at all.
(Speaking of that overlooked Tide defense: Ole Miss punted for more than 360 yards Saturday but struggled to reach 250 total yards. The vaunted nasty wideouts — A.J. Brown, DaMarkus Lodge and Metcalf — totaled 7 catches for 133 yards.)
Bulovas’ second field goal pushed Alabama past the 60-point mark for the second consecutive season against Ole Miss.
Alabama is piling up points at a record pace … and Tagovailoa hasn’t played a meaningful snap in the fourth quarter yet. The Tide look every bit as unstoppable as Trent Dilfer suggested they would be.
Check that. Dilfer predicted a steady diet of 50-3 blowouts.
So far, nobody has been able to hold Alabama to even that much.
The question quickly is becoming: Who can?