Bama runs wild in SEC opener
Defense also excels as Tide post 677-78 edge in total offense.
NASHVILLE, TENN. — Damien Harris ran for a career-high 151 yards and three touchdowns, Bo Scarbrough added two TDs, and top-ranked Alabama routed Vanderbilt 59-0 Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
Alabama (4-0) has won 19 straight over SEC East teams. Better yet, the Crimson Tide haven’t lost to Vanderbilt since 1984 or in Nashville since 1969. Both streaks were assured at the end of the first quarter with Alabama up 21-0 after the second of Harris’ TDs.
Coach Nick Saban said the Crimson Tide finally responded to his challenge to dominate an opponent for a full 60 minutes.
“Until we learn how to do that, which I think we did today, I don’t think you’ll ever get the respect you deserve,” Saban said. “I think they earned a lot of respect today.”
Vanderbilt (3-1) came in as one of the five remaining undefeated teams in the SEC and with the nation’s stingiest defense in points, total yards and against the pass. The Commodores had allowed just 13 points combined through three games, yet they proved no match against Alabama’s dominating ground game.
“We ran into a buzz saw,” Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said.
Harris topped his season’s best by the end of the first quarter and needed only 12 carries for his big day, thanks to a 61-yarder in the first quarter. Scarbrough ran 11 times for 79 yards, with TD runs of 6 and 2 yards. Brian Robinson added a 17-yard TD run in the fourth quarter for a 59-0 lead.
The Crimson Tide simply smothered Vanderbilt, allowing just 49 yards in the first half. Alabama ran 48 offensive plays in that span. Alabama finished with a 677-78 edge in total offense.
Alabama got linebackers Rashaan Evans and Anfernee Jennings back after they missed the past two games with injuries.
Jennings forced a fumble recovered by Da’Shawn Hand for the second turnover by the Tide defense in the first quarter. Ronnie Harrison intercepted a tipped pass that ended Vanderbilt’s opening drive.
The Tide showed their defensive woes in a 41-23 win over Colorado State last week were a mere blip, forcing two turnovers within the first 12 minutes. Alabama looked much more crisp, playing well enough to maybe lure back a few more first-place votes in the polling.
As disheartening as this loss was for the Commodores, Alabama has been doing this to everybody in the Eastern Division and most of the conference.
The Commodores now have to regroup quickly with the SEC schedule only getting started, but this was their most lopsided defeat since a 66-3 loss to then-No. 2 Alabama in 1979. It was the third-worst loss in school history.
Alabama hosts Mississippi next Saturday, and Vanderbilt visits No. 20 Florida.