TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama accomplished what it wanted in Saturday's 45-0 win over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, resting starters after halftime and allowing reserves the opportunity to play.
Most important, the Crimson Tide improved to 11-0 with Auburn and the Southeastern Conference championship game the next two weeks.
"If we had lost this game today, there would be nothing else that could tarnish what you've accomplished more than that," Alabama coach Nick Saban said he told his players before the game. "You could someday be an NFL player with a Mercedes-Benz and you cold roll your window down to talk to a pretty girl, and she'd say, 'You lost to Chattanooga when you played at Alabama.' Nobody would be able to forget that one."
Saban quickly added he meant no disrespect to the Mocs and praised them for playing hard and for winning six games this year. He was pleased with the Crimson Tide's focus, which was on display when Alabama took a 35-0 lead 20 minutes and seven seconds into the game.
Mark Ingram provided the fifth touchdown with a winding 40-yard run through UTC's secondary, and it was the final play of the afternoon for the sophomore tailback. Ingram finished with 102 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries, with his first score coming from 25 yards out with 3:04 left in the opening quarter.
Five Mocs had a chance to bring Ingram down on his first score, which occurred a play after a 44-yard hookup from Greg McElroy to Julio Jones.
"I just kind of bent it back, and Mike McCoy had a good block downfield," Ingram said. "I don't really know what happened. I was just running and bounced off a couple of people and drug another one into the end zone. I can't really explain what happens. I just kind of react to everything that's going on."
Ingram's 102 yards give him 1,399 for the season, which now ranks second in Alabama history behind the 1,471 Bobby Humphrey racked up in 1986.
The Crimson Tide amassed 21 first-quarter points, the most they've had in a quarter this season. The previous high came in opener, when the they scored 18 fourth-quarter points in a 34-24 win over Virginia Tech in Atlanta.
Alabama limited UTC's pass-happy offense to 36 yards. The Mocs completed 7 of 27 attempts, and Cory Reamer, Javier Arenas and Justin Woodall each collected an interception for the Tide.
"They threw a lot of short crossing patterns against us," Saban said. "They ran a lot of empty (backfield), which is something they haven't done a whole lot of in the past -- a lot of crossing and pick routes -- but I thought our guys did a good job of adapting. We didn't get any sacks, but I thought we did affect their quarterback with pressure."
Said Arenas: "We executed all of our calls and played our assignments, and I think it played out well for us."
Woodall intercepted B.J. Coleman on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Saban had planned on his starting offense to get the first series of the second half, but he went ahead with the second-teamers after the pickoff.
The Alabama-Auburn game will be Friday and will be televised at 2:30 EST by CBS.
Tide rolls over Mocs 45-0Alabama running back Mark Ingram (22) outruns Chattanooga's Joshua Williams, left, on a 40-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...