Crimson Tide shutout Ole Miss in 25-0 winPublished 10:54pm Saturday, September 28, 2013
TUSCALOOSA (AP) — Alabama responded to a week of soul-searching with a dominating defensive performance against Mississippi.
The Crimson Tide’s offense didn’t jump on the Rebels early, but Alabama turned to its ground game in the second half after the sluggish start.
T.J. Yeldon rushed for 121 yards, Kenyan Drake gained 99 and the top-ranked Crimson Tide’s defense smothered normally high-octane No. 21 Mississippi in a 25-0 victory on Saturday night.
The Tide (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) regrouped after a lackluster effort against Colorado State that prompted several team leaders to speak up and a series of one-on-one chats with coach Nick Saban during the week. Saban had said Alabama players were feeling “overwhelmed with expectations.”
The result was an SEC West matchup that turned increasingly one-sided, with the Tide outgaining the Rebels (3-1, 1-1) 434-205 in total yards.
“It’ll be huge for the confidence of our players,” Saban said.
Yeldon scored on a 68-yard run and Drake added a 50-yard scamper to revive a struggling running game that came in ranked last in the league.
Ole Miss was seeking its first 4-0 start in 43 years and a statement win.
Instead the Rebels were shut out for the first time since Arkansas did it in November 1998 and dropped their 10th straight game to the SEC West power.
AJ McCarron completed 25 of 32 passes for 180 yards with an interception for Alabama, which had a second-half resurgence offensively. The Tide was held to 36 rushing yards in building a 9-0 halftime lead but gained another 218 on the ground before it was over even without center Ryan Kelly.
Saban said Kelly will miss two or three weeks with a knee injury.
Bo Wallace was 17-of-30 passing for 159 yards for the Rebels. Wallace had said early in the week that he believed “we can put points on anybody.”
Alabama players took umbrage to a seemingly innocuous comment.
“We really wanted to stay in the game the whole time, especially after all the talking they did,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “We really didn’t pay attention to it, but we still heard it. For us to leave a zero on the board, it did a lot of talking for us on the field.”
The Rebels’ fast-paced offense came in averaging 38 points and 490 yards, but never got going and managed just 46 yards on 25 rushes. Mosley made a tackle in the end zone in the fourth quarter for a safety, and Drake’s 50-yarder came on the next play.
Jeff Scott, who was averaging 110 yards a game and 9.4 per carry, was held to 28 yards on eight attempts.
“They totally took it to us,” said Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, who couldn’t recall a time when his offense had been shut out. “We did not have answers to what they were doing to us defensively. We gave up some explosive plays, which you can’t do.
“They had the right call every single time, it seemed like. Not what I anticipated happening tonight.”
Alabama’s more plodding style helped the Tide monopolize the ball for 38 minutes, 29 seconds.
Next Saturday Alabama hosts Georgia State, the Crimson Tide’s third straight home game.