for this game

Tide roll past Vols in second half

Oct 23, 2011 - 3:51 AM Tuscaloosa, AL (Sports Network) - No. 2 Alabama overcame a slow start Saturday to beat Tennessee, 37-6, after A.J. McCarron scrambled for a touchdown in the third quarter and threw a long TD pass just over two minutes later to break the game wide open.

The Crimson Tide, looking ahead to a meeting with No. 1 LSU in two weeks, went to the locker room tied 6-6 with the Volunteers before breaking away for a modern-era school record ninth straight win by at least 16 points.

McCarron threw for a career-high 284 yards, including a 39-yard strike to Kenny Bell in the end zone after the Alabama quarterback had scrambled for a score just moments earlier.

Marquis Maze lead all receivers with five catches for 106 yards for the Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 SEC) and Trent Richardson rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

Tennessee (3-4, 0-4) failed to score at least 18 points for the eighth straight game against Alabama, getting only a pair of field goals from Michael Palardy.

Alabama and LSU will both have a bye week before their anticipated game on November 5 -- a potential meeting of the top two teams in the AP poll.

The top-ranked Tigers routed No. 19 Auburn, 45-10, earlier Saturday as their fans chanted "We want 'Bama! We want 'Bama!" at the end of the game.

First, the Crimson Tide had to get past Tennessee, and head coach Nick Saban acknowledged that his team may have been caught looking forward to the LSU game.

"I'm obviously very pleased and happy with the results and the way we responded in the second half," said Saban. "It was a little lackluster in the first half, which is a little bit concerning, but there was a concern going into the game, and something we tried to fight all week in terms of guys being focused on what's happening right now, and not being concerned about the future."

The game changed for Saban's team on three plays in the third quarter. Appropriately, one of them came on defense.

McCarron scrambled through the line for a two-yard touchdown, diving inside the right pylon with the ball clutched in his left hand to make it 13-6.

Tennessee, gambling on an upset, went for it on 4th-and-1 but quarterback Matt Simms was stopped at the line on a close play that was reviewed and upheld.

McCarron connected with Bell on a 39-yard score on the next play, dropping in a perfect pass behind the defender to give Alabama a 20-6 lead just 2:16 after the previous touchdown.

The Crimson Tide quarterback was 17-of-26 with an interception, while Simms went 8-of-17 for just 58 yards and a pick for Tennessee.

Alabama scored on each of its next three possessions, going 63 yards in six plays on the first one, which ended when Richardson scored on a 12-yard run to make it 27-6.

Cade Foster kicked a 45-yard field goal early in the fourth, and Dont'a Hightower intercepted Simms and returned it 29 yards to set up Richardson's one-yard TD for the final score.

"This upcoming week we are just going to take it slow and just try to move into things," said Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson, "but when LSU week comes we are going to pick it back up and be ready to roll again."

Marlin Lane fumbled on Tennessee's ensuing possession, but Alabama was stopped at the goal line on fourth down after an 11-play drive.

Palardy's 40-yard field goal in the first quarter gave Tennessee an early lead. Jeremy Shelley kicked field goals of 26 and 29 yards for a 6-3 Alabama edge but Palardy tied it before halftime with a career-best 52-yarder.

"It was a really great first half by our football team," said Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley. "I was really proud of them for that."

Game Notes

Alabama has won five straight games in the series dating back to 2007 and is 48-38-7 all-time against Tennessee...The Crimson Tide won eight straight games by 16 points or more in 1977-78...Alabama hasn't allowed an opponent to score more than 14 points in nine straight games dating back to the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State.