Saturday’s matchup between Alabama and USC was one of the most highly anticipated games between two ranked teams to open the season.
However, the reigning national champions dismantled USC 52-6 and essentially told the rest of the college football world that the Crimson Tide will not relinquish their crown without a fight.
USC pounced on Alabama early and took a 3-0 lead in what was a defensive first quarter. But the Trojans could only keep Alabama at bay for so long. Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts came off the sideline and led the Crimson Tide to its first touchdown midway through the second quarter. The Tide followed up with a field goal and a pick-six and all of a sudden it was 17-3 at half.
And then the dam broke.
The Alabama defense tightened in the second half while the offense thrived under Hurts, who finished the game 6-for-11 for 118 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 32 yards and two scores.
Hurts was a surprise addition to the lineup. Earlier in the week, coach Nick Saban said the quarterbacking competition was between Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett. And while Barnett started, Bateman didn’t see the field until the game was well in hand.
The win was a bit of redemption for Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who was fired from USC in 2013. That’s probably why the Crimson Tide didn’t hesitate to give the Trojans their worst beatdown in 50 years (Notre Dame, 51-0, 1966).
Alabama’s win came on a day when two other teams in the Top 5 — Oklahoma and LSU — fell and the SEC as a whole had a poor showing.