Alabama routs Golden Eagles for historic 100th win against unranked opponents

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

Not all eagles can soar, and the Golden Eagles certainly did not on Saturday night. 

Alabama football rolled over Southern Mississippi, 63-14. This is Alabama’s 100th consecutive win over an unranked opponent. 

It is not as easy as many think it is to beat an unranked opponent. The Michigan Wolverines squeaked out a 20-13 win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Clemson Tigers were defeated by the North Carolina State Wolfpack, which ended their streak against unranked opponents at 36. 

Then, there’s Alabama. 

The last time the Crimson Tide lost against an unranked opponent was on Nov. 24, 2007 when Alabama fell to Auburn, 17-10. That was head coach Nick Saban’s first season in Tuscaloosa. 

Since then, an unranked team has not cracked the code. 

The game opened up with a bang. Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for the touchdown. The defense followed up Williams’s electric play by forcing a Southern Miss three and out on their first drive of the game. 

Unlike many other teams on Saturday, everything for the Crimson Tide was firing on all cylinders against the Golden Eagles. 

Saban complimented the team’s effort after the game. 

“I am really pleased with the intensity that our players played with tonight,” Saban said. “That’s one of the things we have been harping on. Maintaining intensity for 60 minutes in a game. I thought we had good energy. I thought we played with good intensity throughout the game.”

Just as the team made several good plays, the team also made mistakes as well. 

Alabama’s defense struggled to stop chunk plays from the opposing offense. Southern Mississippi tight end Grayson Gunter was the team’s leading receiver for the game. Gunter’s 61 yards made up almost half of quarterback Ty Keyes’s total passing yards. 

The Golden Eagles were able to exploit mismatches in coverage to create plays. The offense shifted their formation several times throughout the game, which put Alabama’s linebackers on an island with some talented tight ends. 

This caused the defense to give up 10 plays with a total yardage of 20 yards or more. Through the first three games, Alabama only gave up eight plays of 20 yards or more.

On the other hand, the defense only gave up 82 rushing yards, had one interception, two sacks for a loss of 11 yards and four tackles for a loss. That interception of the game prevented a touchdown by the Golden Eagles. Despite their struggles, the unit showed that they learned from last Saturday’s game against Florida. 

However, that does not mean that they are completely pleased with their performance. 

“I think we improved from last week, but I think we still left some opportunities on the field,” linebacker Christian Harris said. 

Even though common struggles persisted, this was one of the better performances from the Crimson Tide this season. Yes, it came against Southern Mississippi. But as college football fans everywhere saw on Saturday, unranked teams can beat talented ranked teams. 

This win proved to fans that Alabama can put in high-intensity effort for 60 minutes. This is what they needed before Ole Miss comes to town on Oct. 2. 

The team knows they can put together a strong performance. The next step in the season is to continue that trend.