OXFORD|Alabama shut down the Ole Miss Rebels Saturday night, defeating the Rebels 52-7. However, the start of the game had many Tide fans in panic, as the Crimson Tide appeared destined for yet another slow start.
When Ole Miss quarterback Randall Mackey connected with Nickolas Brassell for a 59-yard strike on the third play of the game, the thought for Alabama was “oh not again.”
The play showed shades of previous games this season when the Tide had got off to poor starts.
“They had two weeks to prepare for us,” safety Robert Lester said. “We knew we were going to see something that we haven’t seen. We just had to adjust to it and come out and keep playing ball.”
After Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott ran in a three-yard touchdown, the thought among the Tide was “not again”– as in not going to happen again.
Alabama quickly responded on a five-play, 72-yard scoring drive capped off by a Trent Richardson eight-yard touchdown run.
“I think it is critical, especially on the road to get the game back,” head coach Nick Saban said. “When you a good team, you have to be able to overcome adversity on the road. I think it was critical that we scored, and the defense really settled down after that.”
Alabama’s defense certainly did settle down, forcing the Ole Miss offense to punt on its next three possessions and shutting them down for the rest of the game. Overall Alabama limited the Rebels to only 141 yards of offense. Ole Miss managed only 28 rushing yards on 31 attempts, an average of less than one yard per carry. As the game continued the Tide defense only grew stronger and stronger.
“We want to be a fourth-quarter team,” Lester said. “As the game narrows down and gets to the fourth quarter, we don’t want the other team to score.”
As the Tide defense was busy putting an end to the Rebel’s offense, Richardson’s day was just beginning.
The Heisman hopeful would score early in the second quarter from seven yards out, putting the Tide up 14-7 on his second touchdown of the game.
“Trent had a great game,” Saban said. “I think the offensive line did a great job, and he’d be the first one to tell you that. I thought we had a really good plan against what they do to run the ball.”
At halftime Richardson had 84 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. However, the talented running back was not nearly done shredding the Rebel defense. Richardson’s third touchdown run came early in the third quarter as his eight-yard touchdown run put the Tide comfortably out of reach from the Rebels 24-7.
However, it was his fourth and final touchdown that might have moved the Heisman hopeful’s status to Heisman favorite. Richardson powered and dodged his way down field on a 76-yard touchdown run, highlighted by an ankle-breaking juke move on an Ole Miss defender.
“It was basically an A-gap play,” Richardson said. “I saw the cornerback cheating and I knew he was going to come hard. Then I cut right behind Barrett Jones, and it was wide open from there. The receivers were blocking the whole way; they had a wall for me… I saw Marquise Maze and DeAndrew (White) with good blocks, so I had to get in the end zone some type of way. I couldn’t waste those blocks.”
Though the play might have highly elevated his Heisman status, Richardson said he wasn’t concerned with the Heisman race.
“I don’t really pay attention to that stuff,” Richardson said. “It has been so long since I’ve watched SportsCenter, I don’t look at stuff like that for real.”
When asked if he would tune into SportsCenter to see his sure to be Top-10 play, Richardson admitted he give it a watch.”
“Yeah I might have to watch that.”
Richardson finished the game with 184 yards on 17 carries, scoring four touchdowns. The performance was his sixth-straight 100-yard game of the season
The Tide’s next challenge will come Saturday at 6:15 p.m. as Alabama faces the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“For a lot of people in our state, Tennessee is the biggest game of the year,” offensive lineman Barrett Jones said. “Me personally, I am from Tennessee, so it will be a huge game for me.”