LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Alabama running back Trent Richardson took
the handoff in his own end zone and instantly found himself
surrounded by guys wearing Kentucky blue.
On the Crimson Tide sideline, one thought kept running through
Mark Ingram's head: Uh-oh.
"I thought it was a safety, personally," Ingram said.
It wasn't. Barely. Officials ruled Richardson managed to get the
nose of the ball out of the end zone.
The six inches turned out to be all the room the Crimson Tide
Alabama used the reprieve to start a lengthy touchdown drive,
sparking a 5-minute deluge that helped the third-ranked Crimson
Tide bury the Wildcats 38-20 on Saturday.
Ingram ran for a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns and
Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) matched No. 1 Florida's pummeling of the
Wildcats (2-2, 0-2) a week ago, albeit in slightly different
The Gators overwhelmed Kentucky with a 31-point first-quarter
outburst. The Crimson Tide took longer to get going, but looked
just as dominant over the final 35 minutes to make a believer out
of Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.
"We just played the top two defenses in the country," Brooks
said. "Alabama's defense is just as good as Florida's. They're a
great football team. I expect to see them in the SEC championship
Kentucky did its best to hang tough early. The Wildcats trailed
only 7-6 and had Alabama backed up at its own 3 midway through the
Richardson was drilled by Kentucky's Micah Johnson on first
down, and for a second it appeared he didn't get out of the end
zone. A safety would have put the Crimson Tide behind for the first
time all season.
Richardson did just enough to avoid a major mistake, and Alabama
quarterback Greg McElroy made sure the second chance didn't go to
waste. He methodically led Alabama down the field, eventually
hitting Colin Peek for a 3-yard score to put Alabama up 14-6 with
40 seconds left in the half.
"I think that was the turning point in the game," said Alabama
coach Nick Saban. "(It) gave Greg some confidence and he threw the
ball effectively on that drive and that's what we needed to do the
The fun was just starting for the Crimson Tide.
Kentucky tried to answer right back and quarterback Mike
Hartline dumped the ball off to Derrick Locke. The ball was jarred
loose and popped right up into the arms of Alabama linebacker
Courtney Upshaw, who raced 45 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-6
at the half. The fumble ruined an otherwise solid day for Locke,
who finished with 138 yards of total offense.
Yet the deficit forced the Wildcats to abandon the running game,
and Hartline struggled against the nation's second-ranked defense.
He threw an interception on the second play of the third quarter,
and Rolando McClain returned it to the Kentucky 38. The Crimson
Tide needed just two plays to score, as Ingram ran 32 yards up the
middle to make it 28-6.
Alabama picked Hartline off again four plays later, leading to a
field goal to push the lead to 31-6 and assure the Crimson Tide of
its 35th win in 38 meetings with the Wildcats.
"That little chunk killed us," said Kentucky wide receiver
Randall Cobb. "It was the little things."
Still, it wasn't quite as easy as it looked.
Kentucky managed to move the ball effectively and controlled the
game at times. The Wildcats had 301 yards of total offense - the
most the Crimson Tide has given up all season - and could've made
things interesting if not for the mistakes.
"The formula was there to beat the No. 3 team in the nation,"
Things got a little edgy late. The Crimson Tide was trying to
milk the clock late in the fourth quarter with an 18-point lead
when Kentucky started to call timeouts.
Alabama responded by running a fake field goal with 3 minutes
left. The Crimson Tide converted when punter/holder P.J. Fitzgerald
ran for a first down. McElroy ended the drive by throwing to the
end zone on fourth down; the ball fell incomplete, but the message
McElroy completed 15 of 26 passes for 148 yards, most of them
throws underneath against a Kentucky defense determined not to get
"I thought Greg did a good job managing the game; he got us in
the right play," Saban said. "We had balance out there but this
was by far the most physical, toughest game we have had to this
The road only gets tougher from here. Alabama plays at No. 21
Mississippi next week.
"We'll take the win (but) we're not really satisfied with it,"
McClain said. "We knew we could have played a lot better. We just
played a real good team. They gave us their best punch. We took it
and we countered it."
Alabama 7 14 17 0-38
Kentucky 6 0 7 7-20
Ala-Ingram 11 run (Tiffin kick), 14:03.
Ky-FG Seiber 49, 6:32.
Ky-FG Seiber 49, :00.
Ala-Peek 3 pass from McElroy (Tiffin kick), :40.
Ala-Upshaw 45 fumble return (Tiffin kick), :21.
Ala-Ingram 32 run (Tiffin kick), 13:43.
Ala-FG Tiffin 36, 10:18.
Ky-R.Cobb 45 pass from Hartline (Seiber kick), 9:36.
Ala-Hanks 7 pass from McElroy (Tiffin kick), 3:45.
Ky-A.Smith 2 run (Seiber kick), 12:52.
First downs 18 20
Rushes-yards 42-204 38-133
Passing 148 168
Comp-Att-Int 15-26-0 17-32-3
Return Yards 27 58
Punts-Avg. 5-39.8 3-38.7
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 6-47 7-78
Time of Possession 33:24 26:36
RUSHING-Alabama, Ingram 22-140, Richardson 13-24, Fitzgerald 1-17,
Upchurch 1-13, McElroy 3-5, Maze 1-3, K.Jackson 1-2. Kentucky,
Locke 20-75, A.Smith 5-28, R.Cobb 4-21, Allen 4-7, Conner 1-3,
Hartline 4-(minus 1).
PASSING-Alabama, McElroy 15-26-0-148. Kentucky,
Hartline 17-31-3-168, R.Cobb 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING-Alabama, Peek 6-65, Hanks 2-34, J.Jones 2-13,
Upchurch 2-0, Alexander 1-21, Richardson 1-9, Ingram 1-6. Kentucky,
Locke 6-63, R.Cobb 3-57, Lanxter 3-26, Allen 3-12, Matthews 1-8,