Back in action: Alabama blows past Kentucky 63-3
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama hadn’t played a game in three weeks, and for a few early moments Saturday afternoon that was apparent. It took a bit of time for the Crimson Tide to shake off the rust following its unexpected midseason break. However, Alabama eventually delivered its expected blowout, rolling past Kentucky 63-3 inside of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Missing 10 players, including its leading rusher in Chris Rodriguez as well as its leading tackler in Jamin Davis, Kentucky (3-5) already faced lofty odds in upsetting Alabama (7-0). The Wildcats didn’t do themselves any favors early on, committing a litany of errors that prevented them from taking advantage of the Tide's slow defensive start.
A holding penalty slowed Kentucky’s second drive as the Wildcats were forced to settle for a field goal deep into Alabama territory. After another deep drive on its next possession, Kentucky was once again held to a field-goal attempt. However, a sailed snap saw the Wildcats come away with nothing. Kentucky’s following possession ended on a 42-yard missed field goal.
From there, Alabama began to roll.
While it wasn’t always pretty, Alabama recorded touchdowns on four of its five possessions to put the game away by the half. Heisman contender Mac Jones completed 16 of 24 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. His first touchdown strike of the game, a 10-yard dart to DeVonta Smith, allowed the receiver to break the SEC record for receiving touchdowns. Smith finished the game with nine catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 33 career scores through the air.
Smith's second touchdown grab came on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Young, the freshman quarterback’s first touchdown in an Alabama uniform. Freshmen running backs Roydell Williams and Jase McClellan also recorded their first career touchdowns for the Tide. McClellan led Alabama with 99 yards on 10 carries.
After being held to 6 yards on his first seven carries Najee Harris finished with 83 yards and two touchdowns. The running backs two scores on the ground saw him retake the nation’s lead with 16 rushing touchdowns.
The Tide also saw its streak of non-offensive touchdown extended to three as Jordan Battle returned an interception 45 yards for a score in the third quarter. Alabama has not allowed a touchdown since the third quarter of its 48-17 win over Tennessee on Oct. 24.
Alabama will host No. 23 Auburn next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT for its final home game of the season.
Offensive MVP — DeVonta Smith
Smith’s stellar season continued at a historic pace. On top of setting the SEC record for receiving touchdowns, he also moved into second place on Alabama’s all-time receiving list with 3,012 career yards through the air. Smith now stands 451 yards away from Amari Cooper’s school record of 3,463 receiving yards. Smith’s nine receptions move him into fourth place on Alabama’s all-time list with 183. Cooper holds the record with 228 career catches.
Saturday marked Smith’s fourth 100-yard performance in the last five games. It’s also his third multi-touchdown game of the season.
On top of his efforts through the air, Smith also starred on special teams, returning two punts for 50 yards with a long of 41 yards.
Defensive MVP — Jordan Battle
Battle continued Alabama’s string of non-offensive touchdowns when he stepped in front of a pass from Terry Wilson before sprinting 45 yards to the end zone in the third quarter. He nearly added another interception later in the quarter when he broke up a pass from Kentucky backup quarterback Joey Gatewood.
Battle finished with five tackles to go with the interception and pass breakup and helped Alabama limit the Wildcats to 120 yards through the air.
Christian Harris earns honorable mention, leading Alabama with 11 tackles including a sack.