ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Alabama photo by Kent Gidley / Alabama senior running back Najee Harris reaches the ball across the goal line for one of his five touchdowns last Saturday night at Ole Miss.

He's the Southeastern Conference's leading rusher by a little and the SEC's leading scorer by a lot.

His team is undefeated through three games, and it's averaging 51.0 points per contest.

Alabama running back Najee Harris came back for his senior season to enhance his NFL stock and to lead the Crimson Tide back to the College Football Playoff. A majority of the season has yet to transpire, but the early returns are promising.

"All of us are creating more value for ourselves by winning each game," Harris said this week on a Zoom call. "When you win a game, it brings a lot of national notoriety to all the players and not just one particular player."

There will be no lacking for a spotlight Saturday night inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, when Harris and the No. 2 Crimson Tide host the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs in a CBS-televised showdown. Alabama is coming off a 723-yard performance in last weekend's 63-48 victory at Ole Miss, while Georgia is allowing just 12.3 points a contest and has held its first three opponents without second-half touchdowns.

Harris is coming off a career-best showing in Oxford, rushing 23 times for 206 yards and five touchdowns. He also had three catches for 42 yards, converting a first down on each reception.

"I thought he played outstanding," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "He played tough. He made good decisions as to the cuts he made relative to the plays he ran, and I think that maximized his performance."

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound former five-star prospect out of Antioch, California, has amassed 347 rushing yards and is averaging 115.7 rushing yards per game. He has compiled 10 rushing touchdowns, the most through three games in the SEC in more than 15 years, and his 60 points are 18 more than the next-highest SEC scorer, Florida junior tight end Kyle Pitts.

In Alabama's second game, the 52-24 pasting of Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa, the Aggies keyed on Harris and limited him to 43 yards on 12 carries, but that opened opportunities for redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones and the passing game. Jones capitalized, as the Crimson Tide racked up 435 aerial yards.

"We try to be a team where if some teams try and stop the run, we're going to throw the ball," Harris said. "If some teams try and stop the pass, the running backs have to play a part. We try to be an offense where you have to stop both sides.

"This offense is prepared to strike fear in opponents. There are going to be multiple players getting the ball and multiple players making plays."

Georgia's defense, of course, hasn't been one to scare easy this season. The Bulldogs lead the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 38.3 yards per game, and held Tennessee to minus-1 rushing yard during last Saturday's 44-21 win.

"They have an amazing defense," Harris said. "It's one of the best in the nation, and that should motivate me even more. You line up against them, and it's straight dudes.

"This is a motivating game for all of us."

 

Impressive month

Alabama has a 46-2 record in October under Saban dating back to his inaugural season in 2007, when the Crimson Tide defeated Houston, Ole Miss and Tennessee.

The Crimson Tide's only two losses in the year's 10th month were at South Carolina in 2010 and at Ole Miss in 2014. Alabama enters Saturday having won 22 consecutive October contests.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT