Saturday night in Gainesville, we witnessed a statistical anomaly when Missouri somehow scored 42 points despite gaining only 119 yards of offense in a 29-point win at The Swamp.
Earlier that day in Tuscaloosa, Alabama also won in convincing fashion, but the Crimson Tide scored their points in a more conventional fashion — by matriculating the ball down the field (to steal a phrase from the great Hank Stram) with stunning ease. On the heels of a sluggish performance in a one-point win at Arkansas the previous week, the Alabama offense rolled up a staggering 602 total yards in a 59–0 win over Texas A&M.
The Crimson Tide opened the game with a field goal (after a 71-yard drive) and then proceeded to score a touchdown on their next seven possessions, with all but one drive covering at least 57 yards. For the game, Alabama averaged 7.5 yards on its 80 snaps and came two rushing yards shy of accumulating 300 yards on the ground and 300 yards through the air.
Quarterback Blake Sims averaged 9.9 yards per passing attempt, and the top two running backs, T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, combined to average 8.0 yards on their 23 carries. Amari Cooper, the team’s best offensive weapon, averaged 17.5 yards on eight catches and scored two touchdowns.
The skill players were responsible for the flashy highlights, but the key — according to coach Nick Saban — was the play of the Alabama offensive line.
“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. 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. Really, our guys aren’t going to make plays unless you do that. I believe in you, and I trust in you.’”
Alabama has now topped the 600-yard mark on three occasions this season, something that happened only three times total in the first seven years of the Nick Saban era. The Tide have also run at least 80 plays from scrimmage in three games under first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Previously, that happened only once — last year vs. Kentucky — under Saban.