Top-ranked Alabama crushes Mis­sis­sippi State, 51-3

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By John Zenor AP Sports Writer

Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban held a film ses­sion with Jalen Hurts this week to point out a few things to his young quar­ter­back.

Hurts was clearly pay­ing at­ten­tion.

The fresh­man passed for ca­reer highs of 347 yards and four touch­downs and rushed for 100 yards in less than three quar­ters in No. 1 Alabama’s 51-3 rout of Mis­sis­sippi State on Satur­day. It put on dis­play the po­ten­tial of a pass­ing game that had lately seemed the clos­est thing to a weak­ness for the Crim­son Tide.

The win — cou­pled with Auburn’s sur­pris­ing loss at Ge­or­gia — also meant Alabama clinched the SEC West ti­tle.

Hurts’ pro­lific per­for­mance wiped out any con­cerns that the Tide (10-0, 7-0 South­east­ern Con­fer­ence, No. 1 CFP) would have a let­down af­ter a bruis­ing win at No. 19 LSU. In­stead, Hurts turned in his best game and the de­fense de­nied Mis­sis­sippi State (4-6, 2-4) the end zone on nine trips across mid­field.

“It’s one of the things we’ve been want­ing to do is try to de­velop some con­fi­dence in the pass­ing game, and ob­vi­ously he was able to do that very well to­day,” Sa­ban said. “He got the ball to some of our play­mak­ers down the field and they had op­por­tu­ni­ties to make big plays.”

Hurts is the first Alabama player to have 300 yards pass­ing and 100 yards rush­ing in the same game, and he was flirt­ing with both those mile­stones by half­time.

The Bull­dogs had been rid­ing high af­ter an up­set of No. 10 Texas A&M, but didn’t muster a threat in this one.

Hurts com­pleted 28 of 37 passes and rushed for a fifth touch­down be­fore be­ing re­placed by Cooper Bate­man late in the third quar­ter. The big per­for­mance was marred by an in­ter­cep­tion and fum­ble, but the Tide’s dom­i­nat­ing de­fense made sure the mis­cues didn’t mat­ter too much.

“In prac­tice, he’ll sling it,” Alabama guard Ross Piers­bacher said. “It’s fun to see him do that in a game. I think that’s big for his con­fi­dence.”

ArDar­ius Ste­wart was the big­gest ben­e­fi­ciary of the pass­ing re­vival, scor­ing three touch­downs. Ste­wart gained 156 yards on eight catches, in­clud­ing a 67-yard sprint on a jet sweep.

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