Top-ranked Alabama cruises past UT 45-10
Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood (83) hurdles Tennessee defensive back JaRon Toney (35) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP photo)
TUSCALOOSA- Last week the Tennessee Volunteers knocked off a ranked team for the first time since 2009. On Saturday, the Vols came crashing back down to reality.
The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and that set the tone for the rest of the contest as they rolled to a 45-10 win over the Vols Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“We probably played the worst half of football we have all year,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said after the game. “Some of it was due to the quality of our opponent and some of it was self-inflicted wounds. The next step in the evolution of our football program is learning what it takes to win on the road. When you play on the road, you are responsible for creating your own momentum and opportunities and obviously we did not do that in any way, shape or form in the first half and that was very disappointing.”
The Tide proved why they are the nation’s best team as they finished the game with 479 yards of total yards on 65 plays in a game where the final result was never in doubt. A.J. McCarron was once again efficient as he went 19-for-27 for 275 yards and two touchdowns. T.J. Yeldon had three 1-yard touchdown runs for the Crimson Tide, a team that has now out-scored their last three opponents 145-17.
Justin Worley was eight-of-15 for 120 yards and threw two picks before an injury late in the first half forced him to leave the game.
His replacement, true freshman Josh Dobbs, looked great at times as he played the entire second half and had 75 yards on five completions. Rajon Neal rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown for the Vols.
McCarron threw touchdown passes of 54 and 22 yards, respectively, in the first quarter and Yeldon added a one-yard scoring run to go up 21-0. Yeldon would add another one-yard run in the second quarter on a drive that covered 81 yards on just nine plays.
It appeared Tennessee was putting together a scoring drive late in the half. Cameron Sutton pounced on a fumble by the Crimson Tide at the one yard line and Worley led the Vols down the field, highlighted by a 43-yard pass to Cody Blanc that moved the ball all the way to the Alabama 24. But Worley’s pass to the sideline was intercepted by Landon Collins and returned 89 yards on the pick-six. That play gave the Tide a commanding 35-0 lead at the half.
Tennessee finally got on the board in the third quarter when Michael Palardy booted a 37-yard field goal. After Yeldon scored his third touchdown of the day, Dobbs drove Tennessee for a score that was capped by Neal’s touchdown from three yards away. The final score of the game was off the toe of Alabama kicker Adam Griffith who connected on a 20-yard field goal to produce the 45-10 final.
“In the second half, I thought our kids showed some grit and some fight. But we didn’t play winning football in any area,” Jones said. “Our kids are very prideful and we will come back but it was very disappointing. Alabama is a very talented football team but I didn’t think we played very well today.”
The Vols will draw another difficult road test next week as they travel to fifth-ranked Missouri. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
-By Marlin Curnutt, Tribune Correspondent