For three and a half minutes Ole Miss led the second-ranked Crimson Tide in Bryant-Denny Stadium, and for a fleeting moment it seemed the Rebels had regained some of their swagger from the Hugh Freeze-era. Then Alabama did what Alabama does and proceeded to rout Ole Miss, , Saturday afternoon.
For three and a half minutes Ole Miss led the second-ranked Crimson Tide in Bryant-Denny Stadium, and for a fleeting moment it seemed the Rebels had regained some of their swagger from the Hugh Freeze-era. Then Alabama did what Alabama does and proceeded to rout Ole Miss, 59-31, Saturday afternoon.
By halftime, Alabama had scored 31 unanswered points, largely thanks to a career-best performance by DeVonta Smith who finished Saturday with 11 catches for 274 yards and 5 touchdowns.
“Coaches were calling plays and I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time,” Smith said after the game. Five receiving touchdowns is a new single-game record for the University of Alabama. “I didn't know anything about (the record) until the game was over.”
Smith closed out the first half with three consecutive touchdown catches, for 25, 23 and 33 yards respectively. He hauled in Alabama's first score of the game, a 74-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass.
The guy throwing him those five touchdown passes, quarterback Tua Tangovailoa, likewise set a new record at Alabama on Saturday. Tua accounted for 6 touchdowns against Ole Miss, including a 7-yard rushing score in the secodn quarter. Tagovailoa now holds the school record for total touchdowns with 85, surpassing AJ McCarron's 80.
“I don't think it says too much about me. I think it says a lot about the guys surrounding me,” Tua said. “Today was kind of good and bad for us offensively. We had a lot of opportunities but we had a lot of penalties and things that we can fix.
Tangovailoa completed 26 passes for 418 yards and the five touchdowns to Smith.
“The o-line did a really good job for us today. The pocket collapsed sometimes, but that was an opportunity for me to step up and make plays. I think the running game was really good as well.”
Alabama rushed for 155 yards, led by Najee Harris who had 77 yards off 9 carries.
“We did some very good things out there today, but we also didn't play some things very well,” coach Nick Saban said after the game. “We had some plays that we could've made that we didn't make. (DeVonta Smith) obviously had a great day, Tua was good today, ran the ball effectively.
Alabama's defense gave up 476 yards to Ole Miss, which has struggled at times this season. 279 of those yards came on the ground. Quarterback JR Plumlee went 10-of-28 for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
“We didn't get off the field on defense when we had opportunities,” Saban said. “That allowed them to extend drives and keep the ball. We didn't stop the run very well on defense and gave up some explosive plays at the end of the game.”
Alabama (5-0, 2-0) led 52-17 headed into the fourth quarter, but Ole Miss scored twice late to make it a 28-point game.
The Rebels (2-3, 1-1) tied the game early in the first quarter when Jalen Waddle muffed a punt, giving Ole Miss possession at the 30-yard line. Three plays later, Plumlee ran in from a yard out. Ole Miss kicked a field goal to take a three-point lead on their next possession. The Rebels then gave up 38 unanswered points to the Tide as Alabama ran away with it.
Alabama has a bye next week before traveling to College Station, TX to take on Texas A&M.