This was not the tweet Vanderbilt Football envisioned publishing on Saturday afternoon.
We've reached halftime in Nashville pic.twitter.com/XNorOlP9T9— Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) September 23, 2017
But a week of hopeful buildup was flushed away well before halftime as No. 1 Alabama came to Nashville and sweat dominance all over the field against an overmatched Commodore team. Vandy kept this game close for exactly three possessions before the Crimson Tide inundated them in a 59-0 victory.
National stage jitters clearly affected the ‘Dores early. The team’s first play of the game was prefaced by a delay of game penalty. Minutes later, a Kyle Shurmur pass downfield bounced off Jared Pinkney’s hands and into Ronnie Harrison’s. While Vanderbilt’s solid defense would force an Alabama punt, there would be few opportunities for optimism in the series that followed.
The Tide established a run-heavy offense bolstered by an offensive line that took the ‘Dores front seven out of the equation early and often. Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough combined for 181 rushing yards (on 18 carries!) and four touchdowns in the first half alone as a gassing VU defense struggled to keep up.
Nick Saban didn’t let off the gas after halftime, even with his backup quarterback in the game. His team’s first four drives after the break resulted in touchdowns, including an embarrassing 27-yard Tua Tagovailoa strike to DeVonta Smith that chased the remaining Vandy fans out of the student section.
The only thing that stopped Saban from going five for five was the end of the fourth quarter, as the team took a knee at the VU 4 yard line to run out the clock on Saturday’s slaughter.
In the end, Alabama rushed for more yards than it ever had under Saban, and Vandy was powerless to stop it. Kyle Shurmur was unable to do much against a smothering Bama defense and a cache of receivers who struggled to hold on to catchable passes under pressure. He left the game in the second half after getting lit up by the Crimson Tide pass rush, but his injury did not seem serious.
Shurmur finished the game having completed three of his 15 passes for 18 yards. Deuce Wallace came on in relief and was marginally more effective against Alabama’s backups, throwing for 20 yards.
Vanderbilt falls to 3-1 and 0-1 in the SEC with the loss. Alabama improves to 4-0 (1-0). The Commodores return to the field next Saturday with a road game against No. 20 Florida.