Recap: Alabama vs. Texas A&M
Tuscaloosa, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - There were no narrow victories or complaining fans for Nick Saban and his football team on this day.
Blake Sims threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as seventh-ranked Alabama restored its recently questioned reputation with an authoritative 59-0 win over No. 21 Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
One week after mustering a pedestrian 227 total yards in a 14-13 squeaker over Arkansas that triggered heavy criticism towards Saban and his program, the Crimson Tide amassed 602 and scored on every first-half possession in building a 45-0 lead at the break.
The defense was just as overwhelming, limiting the Aggies to 172 total yards -- a far cry from the 628 Texas A&M generated in a 49-42 loss to the Tide last season -- and recording six sacks of quarterbacks Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen.
"I was really proud of the way our players played today," said Saban. "I think this is as close to the Alabama football that we want to try to get from our players in terms of effort, toughness, emotional excitement and execution that we got throughout the game. I don't think we had many penalties; we played with a lot of discipline. Our quarterback executed the system extremely well and lots of guys made plays. Defensively, this is the best we've played against this kind of offense."
Amari Cooper was on the other end of two of Sims' scoring strikes and totaled 140 yards on eight receptions, while T.J. Yeldon ran for two touchdowns on 13 carries that produced 114 yards.
Sims finished with 268 yards on 16-of-27 passing for Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) before being pulled along with most of the Crimson Tide starters in the third quarter. Derrick Henry had both a rushing and receiving touchdown and ran for 70 yards on 10 attempts.
The lopsided defeat was the third straight to a West Division opponent for reeling Texas A&M (5-3, 2-3), following double-digit setbacks to current No. 1 Mississippi State and Ole Miss. It also was the Aggies' first shutout loss since a 77-0 shellacking at the hands of Oklahoma in 2003.
"However you cut it, that performance was unacceptable and embarrassing," Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin said afterward. "I think Alabama had a lot to do with that, but we've got to get back to work and examine where we are right now."
Hill completed 17-of-26 passes for 138 yards with an interception.
A noticeably determined Alabama team set the stage for the rout by putting together about as dominant a first quarter possible. The Crimson Tide outgained Texas A&M by a whopping 217-8 margin, held the Aggies without a first down and put 10 points on the board with seven more to come shortly afterward.
Alabama's initial series nearly ended in disaster, however. After moving to the Texas A&M 4-yard line on the strength of four Sims completions, Aggies cornerback Deshazor Everett dropped a potential pick-six before Adam Griffith came on to kick a 21-yard field goal to begin the scoring.
The Crimson Tide then marched 72 yards in 11 plays on their subsequent possession, keeping the chains moving three times on third-down passes from Sims. The last, a 12-yarder to fullback Jalston Fowler, preceded Yeldon's 9- yard touchdown on a toss sweep that increased the lead to 10-0 with 4:38 left in the first quarter.
Yeldon capped Alabama's sensational opening period with a highlight-reel 31- yard scamper to the A&M four, then later concluded a 10-play, 84-yard sequence by powering into the end zone from a yard away on fourth down early in the second.
The second quarter was more of the same, with the deflated Aggies continuing to be manhandled on both sides of the ball.
After another Texas A&M drive went nowhere, Sims followed a 21-yard connection to Cooper on 3rd-and-10 by sidestepping two defenders en route to a 43-yard run on a read option keeper that put the Crimson Tide up by a 24-0 count.
Alabama couldn't be stopped the next time it had the ball as well, with Yeldon and Henry doing the majority of the damage on the ground on a 10-play, 72-yard trek the latter finished with an 8-yard touchdown through a gaping hole.
"We had a little gathering with the offensive line this week and said, 'Look guys, you guys are starting to feel pressure and you're being criticized," said Saban. "You're not being the sergeant-at-arms that we need you to be in terms of how you control the line of scrimmage and how you dominate the line of scrimmage. I'm really proud of the way they did that today."
The Aggies once again went three-and-out and Christion Jones took the resulting punt 49 yards to the opposing 24. On the very next snap, Cooper got behind Everett to haul in Sims' deep ball for a 38-0 advantage with 4:10 to go in the half.
Alabama scored one more touchdown prior to halftime, a short pass from Sims to Henry that wound up going for 41 yards as Texas A&M blew a coverage.
The Tide piled up 449 total yards by the break while recording 22 first downs to the Aggies' two. And the carnage didn't quite end as the teams returned to the field.
On Alabama's third play from scrimmage of the second half, Sims found a wide- open Cooper down the right sideline for a 45-yard score that lengthened the margin to 52-0.
The Aggies finally crossed midfield for the first time of the day on the ensuing drive, in which they were stopped on downs. Another series later in the quarter got as far as the Alabama 17 before Hill was picked off by Reggie Ragland.
Backup quarterback Jake Coker accounted for Alabama's final touchdown with a 14-yard pass to Ty Flournoy-Smith with 4:16 remaining.Game Notes
Alabama's 59-point margin of victory was its largest in SEC play since a 66-3
decision at Vanderbilt on Sept. 29, 1979, while the 35 second-quarter points
were the most in a period in program history ... Texas A&M has scored 51
points total during its three-game skid. The Aggies averaged 51.2 points per
game during their 5-0 start ... The Crimson Tide were 9-of-15 on third downs
compared to a 2-of-13 success rate for Texas A&M ... Aggies senior wide
receiver Malcome Kennedy returned to action after missing two games with a
shoulder injury, but managed just four yards on four catches.