TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - For a second consecutive football gamer, a leaky secondary helped an opponent put up more than 500 yards total offense on the University of Southern Mississippi.
But unlike last week at Troy University, the Golden Eagles were not going to be allowed to mount an offense consistent enough to keep pace.
Not on a Saturday morning at Bryant-Denny Stadium facing the second-ranked University of Alabama.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was sharp as a tack, completing 81 percent of his passes for five touchdowns for a second consecutive week, as the Crimson Tide throttled the Golden Eagles 49-7.
“Give credit where credit is due,” USM coach Jay Hopson said. “They’re good. They’re really good.”
Alabama (4-0) jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the second quarter before the Golden Eagles scored with 62 seconds left in the first half.
The Tide answered on the opening possession of the second half with Tagovailoa throwing his fifth touchdown pass of the game before being pulled along with a number of other front-liners.
Alabama then scored its final two touchdowns on the ground, one apiece in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
USM (2-2) was held to less than 10 points for only the second time in the Jay Hopson era. The only other time:: a 30-7 loss at the University of North Texas in 2018.
Alabama, which has scored at least 42 points a game this season, stretched its winning streak over USM to seven consecutive games. The Golden Eagles have beaten Alabama only five times in 44 opportunities, with only one of the five coming in Tuscaloosa (38-29, 1982).
The Tide jumped on USM quickly, needing just six plays in its first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead on Tagovailoa touchdown passes of 45 yards and 74 yards to Henry Ruggs III.
“I’ve been coaching a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an offense with two Heisman Trophy candidates,” Hopson said.
Tagovailoa, who threw for 293 yards, connected on touchdown passes in the second quarter with running back Najee Harris (5 yards) and Jerry Jeudy (17 yards).
USM got a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jack Abraham to running back DeMichael Harris with 1:02 left in the first half to get within 28-7.
But that was as far as the Golden Eagles got.
Tagovaila capped a 77-yard drive to open the second half with his second touchdown strike of the game to Jeudy (20 yards).
“The quarterback is a guy when you watch him on film, he just doesn’t make a bad throw,” Hopson said.
The Tide tacked on a 6-yard scoring run by Brian Robinson Jr. in the third quarter and 5-yard run by Jerome Ford in the fourth quarter.
Abraham completed 17-of-26 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He was sacked twice.
DeMichael Harris led USM with 34 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving. Jaylond Adams led the Golden Eagles with five catches, but for only 17 yards.
Ruggs finished with four catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Jeudy had a game-high six catches for 96 yards and two scores.
Three Tide quarterbacks combined to throw for 338 yards, and Najee Harris picked up 110 yards on 14 carries to pace a rushing attack that produced 176 yards as Alabama racked up 514 total yards.
Of Alabama’s first six touchdown drives, four took less than two minutes and five were under three minutes.
“They’re going to be one of the top offenses in college football, if not the top offense, with the type of explosiveness they have,” Hopson said.
USM wrapped up a three-game road trip, and will return to Roberts Stadium at 6 p.m. Saturday.