By Adam Robinson/Touchdown Alabama
The No. 1-ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team dominated the Tennessee Volunteers from the start Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium as the rolled to a 45-10 win.
Alabama jumped out to an early 21-0 lead in the first quarter before adding 14 more in the second quarter to grab a 35-0 lead at the half.
In the second half, Alabama outscored Tennessee 7-3 in the third quarter to hold a 42-3 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
In the fourth quarter, Tennessee outscored Alabama 7-3 to cut the Crimson Tide’s lead to 45-10, but Alabama was able to hang on for the 35-point win.
“I’m really happy, our players are really happy, and I hope our fans are really happy,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said after the game. “I certainly appreciated our fans today. They stayed for the game and did a great job of supporting our team. It was a great atmosphere for our players to play in. This is a 110 year old rivalry that means a lot to a lot of people in the state of Alabama. I’m very proud of the job that the players and the coached did. We played especially well in the first half.”
With the win over the Volunteers of Tennessee, Alabama increased their overall record in the historic series to 50-38-7. It was the seventh straight win for Alabama over their rivals to the North. It is the first seven-game winning streak in the series since 1986-92.
Alabama racked up 479 yards of total offense in the win on 65 total plays while Tennessee finished with 322 yards on 56 plays.
“We probably played our worst half of football that we have played all year,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said. “Some of it was due to the quality of our opponent. Some of it was self-inflicted wounds. We talked about having to start fast. We gave up a long kickoff return, then they scored. Third down we fell over and gave up a big play. Everything had a snowball effect.”
Alabama had 204 yards rushing on 37 carries and added 275 through the air. Kenyan Drake led Alabama with 89 yards on 14 carries while T.J. Yeldon added 72 yards on 15 carries and had three touchdowns in the Alabama win.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron finished 19-for-27 passing with 275 yards and two touchdowns. Kevin Norwood led the Alabama receivers with 112 yards and six catches and had a touchdown. Norwood reached the 100-yard milestone for the first time in his career.
Amari Cooper had five catches for 75 yards and one score.
Cooper got Alabama on the board first with a 54-yard pass play from McCarron to put Alabama up 7-0 with 13:32 left in the quarter. Cade Foster was perfect on all his PATs Saturday.
Alabama went on top 14-0 at the 8:44 mark in the quarter when Yeldon scored on a 1-yard run. Late in the first quarter, with 28 seconds left to play, Kevin Norwood hauled in a 22-yard reception from McCarron to put Alabama up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Alabama continued their dominance as Yeldon scored on another 1-yard run to put the Crimson Tide up 28-0 with 7:18 left before the half.
Late in the quarter, with Tennessee driving, Landon Collins picked off a Justin Worley pass and returned it 89 yards to pay dirt to put Alabama up 35-0 with 12 seconds left before the half. The interception by Collins for a touchdown was the fifth longest in program history. It was also Collins’ first interception and first touchdown for the sophomore.
“I knew he was going out, so I read the break and broke on the ball towards the wide receiver and caught the pick,” Collins said. “He threw it right to me. After that it was to the house because I didn’t see anyone in front of me but my linemen. After we got the last block on the quarterback, that was it.”
Leading 35-0 at the half, Tennessee broke Alabama’s scoreless streak with a 37-yard field goal from Michael Palardy with 12:53 left in the third quarter.
With their lead cut to 33, Alabama’s Yeldon scored his final touchdown of the night with 2:55 left in the third quarter to put the Crimson Tide up 42-3.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Volunteers were able to do what many teams the Crimson Tide has played against this year other than Texas A&M and scored a touchdown against Alabama to cut the lead to 42-10 with 12:58 left in the game.
Adam Griffith added the final points of the game for either team as he connected on a 20-yard field goal with 6:50 left in the game to give Alabama a 45-10 lead and eventually take the 35-point win.
Alabama eclipsed 250 total yards of offense in the first half for the fourth consecutive game as they had 292 against the Volunteers Saturday.
The first half shutout for Alabama was their ninth in its last 12 games.
With the win, Alabama improved to 8-0 overall and to 5-0 in SEC play while Tennessee fell to 4-4 overall and to 1-3 in conference play.
Alabama will be back in action in two weeks as they will take on the LSU Tigers on November 9 in Tuscaloosa after having a bye week next week.
Link to stats from Alabama versus Tennessee: