No. 1 Alabama breezes past Colorado State
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It wasn’t always pretty, but No. 1 Alabama cruised to a 41-23 victory over Colorado State at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide improved to 3-0 under the lights in front of a raucous crowd.
“I was really pleased with the way we came out and started fast in this game on both sides of the ball,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “That’s something that we have not done in our games (before tonight), and that was certainly the goal — to try and come out and be a dominant team, but we did not sustain that and we didn’t finish the game like we needed to.”
On its first possession of the second half, Alabama pounded Colorado State with its running game and a few quick passes. Running back Bo Scarbrough finished the 14-play, 88-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run to make it 31-10. The drive was set up by an interception from safety Ronnie Harrison.
Alabama’s defense struck again on Colorado State’s next possession. Rams quarterback Nick Stevens sailed a pass that landed in the hands of safety Hootie Jones, who returned the ball deep into Colorado State territory. That led to a 5-yard touchdown run from Alabama running back Damien Harris to make it 38-10 midway through the third quarter.
“In the second half, first two possessions we drive down the field and turn the ball over, which really killed us,” Colorado State coach Mike Bobo said. “You cannot turn the football over against a good football team and expect to win. They (Alabama) make you earn everything, especially offensively, there’s no loose coverage, no easy throws — you have got to be on your game. We had two turnovers and a penalty that really set us back when we had a chance.
“Our guys played hard and they fought. We came here to do one thing and that was to win the ball game, but I’m proud of our effort and how hard they played.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos added a 43-yard field goal to give Alabama a 41-10 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Stevens capped another long Colorado State drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 41-17 with 9:53 left.
Stevens found wide receiver Warren Jackson again late in the fourth for a 3-yard touchdown pass to make it 41-23 with less than two minutes left. Colorado State’s two-point try failed.
As he did last week, Jalen Hurts opened things with his legs. Hurts capped a six-play, 75-yard drive with a 27-yard rushing touchdown to make it 7-0 early in the first quarter.
After Alabama’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, Hurts hit Calvin Ridley on a slant and Ridley did the rest, outrunning everyone for a 78-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 with 8:56 to play in the first quarter.
“I really thought the offense did a great job, and Jalen (Hurts) played an outstanding game today, both running and passing,” Saban said.
The Crimson Tide’s third drive stalled, but Pappanastos drilled a 46-yard field goal to make it 17-0.
As Alabama’s offense went cold, Colorado State began finding success in the second quarter.
The Rams got on the board early in the second quarter after kicker Wyatt Bryan connected on a 27-yard field goal to make it 17-3.
Late in the second quarter, Colorado State cut it to seven after Stevens hit Jackson in the corner of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to make it 17-10 with two minutes left in the half.
The score and long drive seemed to wake up Alabama’s offense. Hurts found receiver Robert Foster on a quick pass, and Foster turned it into a 52-yard touchdown.
Alabama entered the half with a 24-10 lead.
“I was really proud of the effort our football team gave tonight,” Bobo said. “We started off slow — we forgot who we were playing — and we were on our heels, so that’s something we have got to correct. We were a little hesitant on both sides of the ball. We had a chance before the half to go down one score, 17-10, but they get an explosive play right before the half which wasn’t good. We cannot give these kind of athletes (at Alabama) that much space.”
NOTES: After missing the first two games, Alabama RB Josh Jacobs (hamstring) earned the start Saturday. ... Alabama LBs Rashaan Evans (groin), Anfernee Jennings (ankle) and Dylan Moses were all held out of the game Saturday. ... Alabama TE Miller Forristall left the game in the third quarter and did not return. Alabama coach Nick Saban said Forristall is likely out for the year with an ACL injury. Saban said Forristall will have an MRI on Sunday. ... Alabama travels to Nashville next Saturday to face Vanderbilt. ... Colorado State gets a trip to Hawaii next week.