COLUMBIA, Mo. — The scouting report is out. Missouri has found out a way to slow down No. 1-ranked Alabama:
Get the game to coincide with a lightning storm, because the resulting delay might take some energy out of the Crimson Tide.
Even so, that slowed down Alabama only a little Saturday, as the Crimson Tide still scored a relatively comfortable 42-10 win. The guys in crimson jerseys steam rolled their way to a 27-0 advantage with 8:40 left in the second quarter when lightning struck within the SEC-mandated six-mile radius of Missouri’s Faurot Field. By league rule, when it’s that close, the game will be delayed a minimum of 30 minutes from the last lightning strike.
The stadium was evacuated, and when the game restarted 38 minutes later, Alabama lost about as much steam as the crowd. Only about 12,000 to 15,000 out of the original 71,004 returned. Still, the Tide won the post-delay battle 15-10 and was able to spend about the final eight minutes or so playing the reserves.
“We had good intensity, good sense of urgency, right mental energy,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We have been a very good team, and this game was, in some ways, the epitome of that.”
Then he mentioned what “in some ways” meant: “We played extremely well ... until the delay.”
But by then, Alabama had built such a large lead that only one play of any real significance happened after the two teams returned to the field. Starting quarterback AJ McCarron went down with an injured right knee with a little less than 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Alabama punted after that, and when the Tide offense returned to the field with 8:49 left in the period, McCarron jogged onto the field with his teammates, although with a slight limp and a black protective sleeve covering his right knee.
Saban said afterward McCarron twisted his knee.
“We’re hopeful he won’t have issues with it,” Saban said. “We want to be able to take a day or so to be sure.”
Even so, Alabama didn’t need to rely much on McCarron, who threw only 21 times, completing 16. The running game rolled as Eddie Lacy (177 rushing yards) and T.J. Yeldon (144) each set career highs. Lacy rushed for three scores, Yeldon two and third-string freshman Kenyan Drake added one near the end of the game.
Lacy ran off right tackle for a 73-yard touchdown run on the game’s second play, giving Alabama a 7-0 lead.
“I felt going into the game, as I was watching film last week, that they are one of the best teams I’ve ever seen since I’ve been coaching,” said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, a college head coach since 1991. “Time will tell as it goes on, but they’re a team that doesn’t really have any weaknesses.”