Alabama 25, Ole Miss 0
Updated On: Sep 28 2013 10:19:12 PM CDT
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Two weeks after allowing a school-record 628 yards to No. 10 Texas A&M, Alabama's defense responded in a much more impressive fashion against No. 21 Mississippi on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The No. 1 Crimson Tide held the normally potent Rebels in check in their home Southeastern Conference opener, producing a 25-0 win in front of a crowd of 101,821.
Ole Miss (3-1 overall, 1-1 in the SEC) came in averaging 490 yards on offense, but the Crimson Tide (4-0, 2-0) held the Rebels to 205 yards and no points.
It was the first time the Rebels had been shut out since a 34-0 loss to Arkansas in 1998. It was also the first time Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze was shut out as a college coach. Shutouts are much more common for Alabama, which blanked Auburn to end the regular season in 2012.
"Hats off to Coach (Nick) Saban and Alabama, Freeze said. "They took it to us. We did not have answers for the stuff they were doing defensively and that's obviously very frustrating. I take that very personally,
"I'm proud of my kids' effort, I thought they fought defensively. They were just on the field way too much. They had some explosive plays, but that's a very good football team that a very good job twisting things up on us. They seemed to have the right call on every play we needed."
Alabama produced several big plays on defense, holding the Rebels without points inside its own 20-yard line three times. The last came early in the fourth quarter, moments after Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron threw his lone interception of the game.
Instead of kicking a field goal, Freeze called for Bo Wallace to throw the ball on a fourth-and-10 situation at the Alabama 18. The pass went incomplete and Alabama was able to thwart the last real threat for the Rebels, who scored 44 points against Texas two weeks ago.
Alabama's first two touchdowns of the game came on the ground. T.J. Yeldon scored on a nifty 68-yard run on the second play of the third quarter, and Kenyan Drake scored on a 50-yard run late in the fourth quarter when the game was decided.
After a slow start, Yeldon finished with 121 yards on 17 carries, good for a 7.1 yards-per-carry average. Drake turned in 99 yards on 12 rushes. Alabama had 254 yards on the ground and 434 total.
On a day where No. 6 LSU and No. 9 Georgia combined to score 88 points, things were much different for the Rebels and Crimson Tide in the first half. In a game that reminded many of SEC games played in the 1980s, the Crimson Tide was able to garner a 9-0 lead in the first 30 minutes. Cade Foster kicked field goals of 28, 53 and 42 yards. The 53-yarder was a career high.
The Crimson Tide held the Rebels' rushing attack, which entered averaging 250 yards per game, to 7 yards on 11 carries. Conversely, the Rebels held Yeldon and Alabama's rushing attack to 36 carries on 15 yards.
The difference in the first half was the play of the quarterbacks. Wallace was 10 of 14 for 111 yards, but McCarron was just a little better, completing 20 of 23 for 135 yards.
McCarron made two key completions on the final scoring drive of the first half, which enabled Foster to get into position to kick his 42-yarder.
On the Tide's first scoring drive in the first quarter, McCarron completed all five of his attempts for 35 yards.
McCarron finished the game 25 of 32 for 180 yards and an interception.