6:00 PM ET, October 15, 2011
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, OXFORD, MS
Alabama ousts Mississippi as Trent Richardson rumbles for four TDs
OXFORD, Miss. -- Alabama's Trent Richardson now has his signature Heisman highlight.
The Crimson Tide's bullish back set career marks with 183 yards rushing and four touchdowns and destroyed Mississippi's defense with a 76-yard touchdown run that displayed both his uncommon power and speed in a 52-7 win Saturday night.
"I don't think it's the best (game), but it's a good one, and hopefully there's going to be more to come," Richardson said.
The junior and Jalston Fowler, who had his own big scoring run from 69 yards out, pushed the Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) to 389 rushing yards in an offensive performance that was only slightly more impressive than Alabama's defensive effort.
The Tide held the Rebels (2-4, 0-3) to 113 total yards and 28 rushing, brushing aside Ole Miss as easily as Richardson. The 52 points were the most in a Southeastern Conference game for Alabama since 1990 and the loss was the worst for Ole Miss since a 49-3 defeat to Florida in 1981.
The Crimson Tide built a slow-blooming 17-7 halftime lead on scoring runs of 8 and 7 yards by Richardson. But he really turned up the power in the second half. He capped Alabama's opening drive of the third quarter with an 8-yard touchdown run set up by AJ McCarron's 36-yard pass to Darius Hanks.
Richardson opened Alabama's second drive with a powerful 16-yard run. He then took the handoff through the left side of the line, shedding two Rebels, cut across the field and down the right sideline. It looked as if Ole Miss would hem him in around the 10, but he stopped short to shake one defender, and sprinted to the pylon while knocking away two more would-be tacklers for the highlight-reel score.
With that, Richardson was done for the night. He averaged 10.8 yards per carry.
The junior will probably revise his opinion after he sees that long run on film. Every great college player needs a signature moment. It's voltage was comparable to Desmond Howard's diving catch for Michigan that helped him wrap up a Heisman Trophy. Or Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward's trophy-clinching diving touchdown. Or any of a half-dozen plays by Cam Newton for Auburn last season.
More important than its aesthetic qualities, though, was the affect it had on the game, which went from potentially competitive to 31-7 in the first 4:23 of the second half.
"It was very important," Richardson said of the half-opening flurry. "The crowd was really on us. We had to shut their mouths, and we did."
From there Alabama kept delivering blow after blow. Fowler landed with an 8-yard touchdown run on the next drive and two possessions later he bulled his way through the Rebels defense for his own highlight. Alabama scored on five of its six second-half drives, petering out deep in Ole Miss territory as time expired.
Bama's 615 total yards and rushing total were season highs by far.
"Our offense, the more we run it the better we run it," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We're more like Joe Frazier than we are like (Muhammad) Ali. We have to pound it."
The defense took its shots as well, after a shaky start.
Randall Mackey's 59-yard pass completion to Nickolas Brassell to the 2 on the game's fourth play helped the Rebels take a 7-0 lead on their opening drive. But after giving up 72 yards on that possession's five plays, the Crimson Tide held Ole Miss without a yard for the rest of the half, a total of 18 plays.
The Crimson Tide forced two turnovers, stopped the Rebels' only real second-half threat with a goal-line stand and sacked Mackey five times -- half of its season total in its first six games.
The performance was about as dominating as possible, yet Saban and his players fixated on that opening drive afterward.
"We can't let this happen with other teams on our schedule," Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson said. "But I don't know why we seem to play better when we get behind. We talk about playing downhill and I guess we feel like it's uphill when we get behind early, and then we get it turned around."
Ole Miss played without four suspended reserves in the first of three straight games against ranked teams. The Rebels host No. 10 Arkansas -- coach Houston Nutt's old team -- next week. They'll do it without starting cornerback Marcus Temple, who fractured his right ankle after a few great plays to start the game. And they'll also likely be without defensive end Wayne Dorsey, who left the game with an unspecified injury.
"Those were some key players that we just lost, so somebody has to step up and fill their positions," Ole Miss linebacker Mike Marry said. "They were big playmakers and also big leaders on and off the field."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Alabama doesn't lose very often these days. Ole Miss doesn't seem to beat anyone.
Gameball goes to... Trent Richardson. Is he getting better each week? He turned in 183 yards and 4 TDs Saturday.
Stat of the game... 0.9. You can take your pick, but 31 rushing yards on 28 attempts seems a good place to start.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-11||4-14|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||1-2|
|TD||12:38||Jeff Scott 1 Yd Run (Bryson Rose Kick)||0||7|
|TD||08:24||Trent Richardson 8 Yd Run (Jeremy Shelley Kick)||7||7|
|TD||14:11||Trent Richardson 7 Yd Run (Jeremy Shelley Kick)||14||7|
|FG||01:14||Jeremy Shelley 24 Yd||17||7|
|TD||12:30||Trent Richardson 8 Yd Run (Jeremy Shelley Kick)||24||7|
|TD||07:37||Trent Richardson 76 Yd Run (Jeremy Shelley Kick)||31||7|
|TD||06:44||Jalston Fowler 8 Yd Run (Jeremy Shelley Kick)||38||7|
|TD||02:08||Brandon Gibson 10 Yd Pass From AJ McCarron (Jeremy Shelley Kick)||45||7|
|TD||10:08||Jalston Fowler 69 Yd Run (Jeremy Shelley Kick)||52||7|