No. 1 Alabama blasts Mercer 56-0, moves on to Iron Bowl
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Jalen Hurts passed for 180 yards and three touchdowns in a little more than a quarter and No. 1 Alabama beat FCS team Mercer 56-0 on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (11-0, No. 1 CFP) raced to a 35-0 halftime lead in what amounted to a tuneup for the team’s biggest game. Now, Alabama heads to No. 6 Auburn with the winner of the Iron Bowl facing No. 7 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta.
The Bears (5-6) also lost to Auburn 24-10 early in the season, when the Tigers committed five turnovers.
Hurts led Alabama to touchdowns on each of his four possessions, completing all seven of his attempts and running for 30 yards. He hit a wide-open Calvin Ridley for a 66-yard touchdown, giving Ridley 103 yards on three catches before the half.
Freshman backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa came in with just under 12 minutes left in the second quarter and exited early in the fourth.
Tagovailoa also threw for three touchdowns, completing 7 of 11 passes for 85 yards.
Alabama outgained Mercer 530-161 in total yards. The Tide has outscored opponents 253-43 collectively in the first half.
Mercer: Got off to a good start offensively, making it into Alabama territory on its first two possessions and five times in the game. Kaelan Riley was 6 of 19 passing for 44 yards with three interceptions.
Alabama: Dominated, as expected, and got a bunch of players on the field. Defense had interceptions from Deionte Thompson, Dylan Moses and Hootie Jones. Had six tailbacks carry at least four times, and none topped seven carries.
The freshman Moses turned in a huge performance for Alabama’s injury-depleted linebackers. Making his first start, Moses picked off a pass deep in Tide territory late in the first half. He had 11 tackles, four behind the line, with 10 solo stops.
Mercer finished its season.
Alabama visits Auburn in the Iron Bowl with its bid for a fourth consecutive SEC title and perhaps another playoff trip on the line.