ATLANTA (WIAT) — Looking very much like a team capable of making another run at a national title, No. 1 Alabama opened its season with a 44-13 rout of No. 14 Miami on Saturday behind four touchdown passes from Bryce Young in his first college start.
The sophomore from Southern California completed 27 of 38 for 344 yards, hooking up with Cameron Latu on a pair of scoring plays and burying the Hurricanes with a 94-yard touchdown pass to Jameson Williams early in the third quarter.
Young became the first Alabama quarterback to throw four TD passes in his starting debut. Mac Jones and Joe Namath had shared the school record with three scoring throws to begin their stints as the Tide’s No. 1 QB.
Williams, a transfer from Ohio State, had four receptions for 126 yards in his Alabama debut.
The Crimson Tide also turned in a dazzling defensive effort at the home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, sacking D’Eriq King four times, forcing him into three turnovers and stuffing him on a goal-line stand.
Alabama led 27-0 before Miami crossed midfield. King and the Hurricanes simply made too many mistakes to compete with perhaps the greatest dynasty in college football history.
After romping to coach Nick Saban’s record seventh national title with a 13-0 record, the Tide came into the season with some big holes to fill.
Alabama had a record-tying six players taken in the first round of the NFL draft, including Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith, star quarterback Jones and defensive stalwart Patrick Surtain II.
Of course, Saban doesn’t rebuild, he simply reloads with another batch of five-star recruits. The quarterback job went to Young, a dual threat who was highest-rated quarterback prospect ever signed by the Alabama coach.
After spending a year learning the ropes behind Jones. Young was clearly ready to take over as the starter.
He made the short throws. He made the long throws. He threw it away when necessary. He used his legs to avoid getting caught very often behind the line.
Young’s only major mistake was losing a fumble on a hit while attempting to scramble with Alabama leading 41-10.
King was 23 of 30 but produced only 173 yards passing, spending much of his time trying to escape the fearsome Alabama rush. He was intercepted twice and also lost a fumble.
The Hurricanes also lost safety Bubba Bolden in the first quarter. He was ejected for targeting after lowering his head for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Alabama’s Brian Robinson Jr.
Miami finally put together a decent drive in the closing seconds of the first half, converting on fourth-and-6 and taking advantage of a disputed pass interference penalty to set up a 37-yard field by Andy Borregales.
Any hopes of an improbable comeback were dashed on Miami’s first possession of the second half.
After an impressive, 74-yard drive, the Hurricanes lined up quickly on fourth-and-goal inside the Alabama 1, looking to catch the Tide flat-footed.
King took a shotgun snap and tried to power straight up the middle, only to be stopped about a foot short of the goal line.
Three players later, Young dropped back into his end zone and launched one for Williams, who hauled in the pass without breaking stride and scooted down the sideline for the 94-yard TD.
Alabama: The Tide picked up where it left off in 2020, blowing out another ranked opponent. Saban’s team has no apparent weaknesses, but made just enough mistakes to give the coach something to bark about in practice next week.
Miami: The Hurricanes had a chance to show they’re ready to compete with the nation’s truly elite programs in coach Manny Diaz’s third season. They failed miserably, looking like they will again challenge for nothing more than a mid-level bowl.
Alabama: Hosts FCS school Mercer next Saturday in what should be another laugher at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Miami: Faces Appalachian State next Saturday in the Hurricanes’ home opener.
Alabama, an overwhelming choice for No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason poll, isn’t going anywhere after its impressive victory. There’s nothing embarrassing about losing to the Tide, but the feeble effort will likely cost the Hurricanes a bigger drop than they might’ve expected.