Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

The Crimson Tide tames the Wildcats, clinches the SEC West

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama tight end CJ Dippre (#81) catches the ball against Kentucky on Nov. 11 at Kroger Field in Lexington, KY.

With a spot in the SEC Championship on the line, Alabama football went into Lexington ready to claim it. The Crimson Tide scored three touchdowns in the first quarter on its way to a 49-21 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats to declare itself the winner of the SEC West.  

Head coach Nick Saban said he was happy with how his No. 8 team approached the game against the unranked Wildcats.  

“I was really pleased that the team didn’t buy into the rat poison, or whatever you want to call it,” Saban said. “I thought this was a little bit of a trap game.”  

Quarterback Jalen Milroe became the first Alabama player in program history with three passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns in one game. The only other touchdown of the game was a 3-yard rushing touchdown from running back Jamarion Miller in the fourth quarter, after backup quarterback Ty Simpson took over for Milroe. The two quarterbacks combined for 285 passing yards, the second-highest game of the season, behind only the 321 passing yards at Texas A&M. 

With wide receiver Jermaine Burton out due to illness, the Crimson Tide offense relied on 10 receivers, mostly wide receiver Kobe Prentice and tight end Amari Niblack. Both entered the end zone with first-quarter touchdowns, with 40-yard and 26-yard receptions, respectfully.  

Besides Burton, wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks, defensive back Jaylen Key and linebacker Deontae Lawson were also out of Saturday’s matchup, due to injuries. Saban said he was proud of how his team adjusted to the gaps on both the offense and the defense.  

“I was really pleased with the guys who filled in today and took their place,” Saban said. “We had to shift guys around in the secondary. But I thought [linebacker] Trez Marshall, who has been hurt himself, did a good job today, and so did [linebacker] Jihaad [Campbell]. Those guys got some valuable experience and that will help us down the road.”  

Although the Crimson Tide quickly took a 21-0 lead, Alabama fell into a slower rhythm in the middle of the game. The Wildcats got on the board with a touchdown of their own before the first quarter ended, both quarterbacks threw an interception in the second quarter, and both offenses had rushing touchdowns in the third.  

In the fourth quarter, Alabama was able to put Kentucky away with two touchdowns on back-to-back drives. The Wildcats scored one more touchdown when running back Ray Davis carried it 1 yard into the end zone, but at that point the point difference was too much to overcome, and it was a game of waiting for the clock to run out.  

On the defensive side, the Crimson Tide sacked Kentucky quarterback Devin Leary a total of three times, with one solo sack belonging to defensive lineman Justin Eboigbe. This was Eboigbe’s second game in a row with a recorded solo sack.  

Defensive back Caleb Downs led Alabama with seven total tackles and five solo tackles, and defensive back Terrion Arnold had the second-most solo tackles as well as the second-quarter interception. 

In more ways than one, the win in Lexington was a big one for the Crimson Tide. Saban is already looking forward to the games ahead.  

“I trust in these guys that they are going to do the right things and make good choices and decisions,” Saban said, “that’s going to help them to continue to grow and develop as a team and hopefully finish business throughout the rest of this season in terms of what we have to do to continue to get better and see if we can create an opportunity for ourselves.”  

Since losing to Texas in Week 2 and struggling against South Florida in Week 3, Saban said his team has come a long way. 

“There’s a lot of naysayers out there who never really believed in these guys,” Saban said. “But I’ve always believed in this team and trusted in this team, that they would develop into something that’s special, and it has been special.”  

The Crimson Tide will return home for its next game, another 11 a.m. CT kickoff, this time against Chattanooga. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.  

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