TUSCALOOSA – Alabama’s defense earned its second straight shutout and fourth of the season on Saturday, the most for the Crimson Tide since 1979.
Senior safety Robert Lester ended a three-game interception drought when he picked off Jonathan Wallace’s pass near theAlabama40 and returned it 31 yards. Wallace’s pass attempt for C.J. Uzomah was high and the 6-foot-4 sophomore leaped for it, but only managed to tip it. Lester grabbed it, setting up anotherAlabamatouchdown that made it 28-0.
“Any time the ball’s up like that, giving me a chance to make a play, I’m going to get it,” Lester said.
It was the fifth-year senior’s 14th career interception, which tied him for fifth on the school’s career list. He is eighth all-time with 183 career interception return yards.
The Crimson Tide took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards in 10 plays, capped by Eddie Lacy’s 2-yard touchdown run just 3:53 into the game.
It was the sixth timeAlabamahas scored a touchdown on its opening drive this season. The other six opening drives ended in punts.
Of course,Alabamakept on scoring. The next six drives covered, in order, 10 plays and 61 yards, six plays and 88 yards, five plays and 29 yards, seven plays and 64 yards, three plays and 35 yards and seven plays and 61 yards. They all ended in touchdowns.
Kenny Bell breaks leg:
Junior receiver Kenny Bell suffered a broken leg during the second quarter on T.J. Yeldon’s powerful 19-yard run.Bellwent down on the other side of the field and was carried off without putting any weight on his left leg.
Bellcaught a pass for 15 yards earlier in the game. He collided withAuburn’s T’Sharvan Bell, who had to leave the game after the play, though he did return.
Alabamacoach Nick Saban confirmedBellwill be out for the rest of the season.
“He’s going to have a rod put in his tibia. He’s got a broken leg,” Saban said. “Doc thinks it’s probably five to six weeks with that injury before he can start running. He’s going to be out.”
Saban said backup nose guard Brandon Ivory twisted his ankle, but said he thought Ivory would be OK.
Running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon became the first rushing tandem for the Crimson Tide to score 10 or more touchdowns on the ground each since 2008, when Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram did it.
Lacy scored two touchdowns Saturday and now has 14 touchdowns on the season Yeldon, who scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter, now has 10 touchdowns in his freshman year.
Lester said he was determined to make his final game in Bryant-Denny Stadium a memorable one.
“It’s great to go out the way we did. It’s great to play in that stadium,” he said. “I’m sad that’s my last time.”
Alabamasaluted its seniors in ceremonies before the game. That senior class set a school record for most victories over a four-year period.Alabamais 47-5 in the last four seasons. The 47 wins are more than any other team from a BCS conference.
Alabamaleads this rivalry 42-34-1, although Saturday’s victory was only the second win for the Crimson Tide in nine meetings inTuscaloosa. The other win was a 36-0 decision in 2008.
Well, that’s an appropriate lead-in for both teams headed in opposite directions.Alabamawill play inAtlanta’s Georgia Dome at 3 p.m. next Saturday against the East Division champion Georgia Bulldogs.
The winner of that game will almost certainly earn a berth in the national championship game on Jan. 7 inMiami.
Auburnwill be evaluating its program’s leadership, just two years after a national title.