TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Mac Jones passed for 417 yards and four touchdowns and No. 2 Alabama’s aerial assault picked apart No. 3 Georgia’s heralded defense in the second half of a 41-24 victory Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (4-0), with coach Nick Saban stalking the sideline after a COVID-19 scare, rallied with three touchdowns in a 10-minute span starting late in the third quarter of a battle of the Southeastern Conference’s last remaining unbeatens.
The nation’s top scoring offense ultimately got the decisive upper hand in a battle with the Bulldogs (3-1) and one of the nation’s best defenses.
Georgia had no answer for Jones and star receivers Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, especially with Alabama’s own beleaguered defense grabbing two second-half interceptions and three overall.
Smith caught 11 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, including one in the fourth quarter that effectively put it out of reach.
Waddle caught a 90-yard touchdown pass and gained 161 yards on six catches.
Then there was some old-school ground and pound too. Harris gained 152 yards on 31 carries carries with a touchdown during that game-clinching span. He did it against the nation’s top run defense, which came in allowing 38 rushing yards and 12.3 points per game.
Stetson Bennett completed 18 of 40 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, including an 82-yarder to James Cook. But he threw three interceptions.
Alabama got a boost about seven hours before the game when the SEC cleared coach Saban to return to business of usual, determining a Wednesday COVID test was a false positive. He tested negative Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
A maskless Saban was yelling at a referee after an intentional grounding call in the second quarter.
The Tide has won the last six meetings with Georgia, including a 3-0 record against Saban’s former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. The first two came in the January 2018 national championship game and the SEC championship game the following season.
Alabama: The defense remains more generous than is standard in Tuscaloosa, but it did deliver some big plays. The offense just continues to roll along, and those receivers just appear unstoppable.
Georgia: Led 24-20 deep into the third quarter and gained a solid 410 yards. But the defense that had been so suffocating more than met its match.
Clemson hasn’t done anything to weaken its claim to the top spot, but perhaps Alabama’s decisive win will close the gap some. Georgia probably won’t fall much past the Top 10.
Georgia visits Kentucky, which is fresh from a big win over Tennessee.
Alabama visits traditional rival Tennessee.