TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Except for injuries, the University of Alabama football team came close to having a perfect September.
It won a No. 1 vs. No. 3 showdown against Florida State at the site of this year’s SEC and national championship games, developed some continuity against two good opponents from non-Power 5 leagues, and opened league play by absolutely dismantling Vanderbilt and Ole Miss by a combined score of 125-3.
This was only the first act, but the passing game is evolving before our eyes, the running game is back to being probably the best in college football and the defense had the potential to be elite.
Here’s a final look at how Alabama capped the month with its impressive 66-3 victory over the Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
- Play of the game: Even though it occurred just 5 minutes into the game, senior cornerback Levi Wallace’s interception return for a touchdown made it clear to everyone watching how the game would turn out.
— Athlazon (@athlazon) October 2, 2017
- Player of the game: The coaching staff might reward the entire offense and defense again like it did after Vanderbilt, but the player who stood out the most was again sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts. He was 12-for-19 passing for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns, and had 101 rushing yards on 10 attempts and another touchdown before being pulled in the third quarter. At one point, he had nine straight completions, which accounted for all but 16 of his passing yards.
- Statistic of the game: Nine different players scored touchdowns for Alabama while Ole Miss had nine receivers or running backs touch the ball. Not one of them reached the end zone.
10 things you may not have noticed
1. Excluding when Alabama was running out the clock at the end of a half, Alabama has scored on 32 of its 43 offensive possession over the past four games, or 74.4 percent. The other 11 ended with two missed field goals and nine punts by JK Scott.
2. Hurts’ 3-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Hale Hentges was his first completion in the red zone (inside the 20) this season. Prior to that, he was 0-for-6, with one pass dropped. Of course, he subsequently completed his next red-zone attempt, the 18-yard touchdown reception by running back Josh Jacobs.
3. For the second consecutive week, Alabama’s offense blew past the team goal of nine explosive plays per game. Saban defines them as a run of 13 or more yards, or a pass of 17 or more yards. The Crimson Tide tallied 15 such plays after notching 16 the previous game at Vanderbilt. For September, Alabama blew away its opponents in the statistical category, 56-22.
Alabama leads the SEC in:
— Marq Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) October 1, 2017
4. Alabama’s defense has yet to allow a point in the third quarter. After topping Ole Miss 24-0 in the frame, the Crimson Tide has outscored the opposition 73-0. Going back to last season, Alabama’s defense has yielded just one third-quarter touchdown over its last 12 games (Hunter Renfrow’s 24-yard pass from Deshaun Watson in the National Championship Game).
5. In two SEC games, Alabama’s opponents have just one third-down conversion out of 23 opportunities, for a success rate of 4.3 percent. The defense’s best showing over a two-game stretch last season was yielding 4-of-25 chances (16 percent) between Auburn and Chattanooga combined.
6. Alabama’s string of not allowing a 100-yard rusher was snapped at 25 games, dating back Georgia’s Nick Chubb on Oct. 3, 2015. Thanks to his 44-yard gain, Jordan Wilkins became only the 12th player to exceed 100 rushing yards during the Saban era, finishing with 101 on 12 carries. However, he didn’t top 100 all-purpose yards as he had 5-yard loss on a screen pass in the first quarter. Junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick was credited with the stop.
7. Alabama has scored more points in its last two games (125) than Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Missouri and Ole Miss have scored all season, and it is tied with Kentucky. It’s also the most points any BCS team has scored in conference play this season, while the only defense that can match the three points allowed with at least two conference games played is Georgia.
Alabama's point differential (188 points) is more points than 112 teams have scored this season.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) October 1, 2017
8. With sophomore offensive lineman Richie Petibon and true freshman defensive lineman LaBryan Ray making their season debuts against Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide have used 73 players this season. With 16 players from the recruiting Class of 2017 having already played, the only ones with redshirts still intact are Markail Benton, Hunter Brannon, Joseph Bulovas, VanDarius Cowan, Phidarian Mathis, Kendall Randolph, Tyrell Shavers and Chadarius Townsend.
9. For the season, Alabama had tallied 26 penalties for 205 yards, an average of 5.2 and 41.0 yards per game. It ranks 37th in the nation in penalties called, but is 129th in yards penalized.
Its opponents have been flagged just 16 times for 100 yards all season (3.2 and 20, respectively).
Last season Alabama’s opponents were flagged just 58 times for 471 yards, which were not only fewest of any Crimson Tide team under Saban, but also the fewest in college football. This year Alabama ranks No. 127 out of 130 teams in opponent penalties per game.
10. Saban already has the record for most career games coaching a team ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 with 55, and improved to 49-6 for a .891 winning percentage. No other coach in history has more than 40 wins as No. 1 (Bobby Bowden and Woody Hayes are tied). The Crimson Tide will go for No. 50 at Texas A&M having won 69 consecutive games against unranked foes.
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