ST. LOUIS —Nick Saban came off the field Saturday and sized up the afternoon for No. 1 Alabama.
“It was tough sledding out there today, guys,” the Crimson Tide coach said. The thing is, he was speaking more about the weather than the opponent.
“For the conditions, I was pleased with the balance that we had,” he said.
Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon gave Alabama a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time this season and the duo combined for five scores as Alabama beat Missouri 42-10 in a soggy, lightning-delayed game. The Crimson Tide had a season high 533 total yards and held Missouri to 129 yards — and just 3 yards rushing.
“Basically the offensive line came out and they dominated,” Lacy said. “I mean, every time we made a big run it was because they made a big hole for us.”
Center Barrett Jones put it like this: “Probably the best we played all year, given we had a break.”
The first matchup of head coaches who were former Kent State teammates was no contest, with Alabama pummeling a team hampered by injuries at quarterback and the offensive line. The defending national champion Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC) led 21-0 late in the first quarter en route to their 10th straight victory, all by 19 or more points.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel needed no convincing that the Tigers had been steamrolled by a most deserving No. 1.
“That is maybe the best team I have ever seen,” he said.
Alabama did enough things right after the unscheduled break to disappoint the few thousand fans who didn’t leave for good during the 38-minute lightning delay. The Crimson Tide were awaiting the extra-point kick for a 28-0 cushion with 8:40 to go in the half after Yeldon’s second scoring run when the game was halted.
Missouri’s Marcus Murphy set a school single-season record with his fourth kick return for touchdown, a 98-yard kickoff return in the second quarter right after the weather delay.
But the Tigers (3-4, 0-4) have been outscored 126-55 in their first season in the SEC, and have been competitive to the finish in only last week’s 19-15 loss at home to Vanderbilt.
The rest of the season, Pinkel vowed that injuries will be no excuse.
“I told our team we have had a lot of issues, a backup quarterback and all this other stuff,” Pinkel said. “From this point on, I don’t care. We’re going to move on and try to finish the season the right way.”
Backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser, a redshirt freshman subbing for injured James Franklin, was 12 for 29 for 126 yards with two interceptions. Missouri has next weekend off and Franklin could return from a left knee strain at home against Kentucky Oct. 27.
Kendial Lawrence had 33 yards on seven carries but Missouri finished with just 3 yards on 28 carries including 53 yards in losses by Berkstresser, 42 of them on a sack-lost fumble at the end of the half.
Lacy had a career-best 177 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns, including a 73-yarder on the game’s second snap, for his second 100-yard game of the year. Yeldon had 144 yards on 18 carries and two TDs, also his second time in triple digits this season.
“The running backs, we haven’t had a big run in a long time,” Lacy said. “Our plan was to come in and run the ball, we didn’t know how successful it was going to be. But as it turned out it was very successful.”
Trent Richardson and Jalston Fowler each gained more than 100 yards for Alabama at Mississippi last October.
Alabama remained interception-free on the year after AJ McCarron went 16 for 21 for 171 yards, extending his run to 227 passes without a pick. McCarron showed his toughness, too, staying in the game with a quick wrap after twisting his right knee.
Alabama did not make McCarron available to speak to reporters after the game.
The game was halted after several lightning strikes around Faurot Field. The stands were evacuated just after Yeldon’s 15-yard TD run — the last 5 on a leap for the pylon.
Missouri got some momentum from the unexpected break, but not nearly enough. After play resumed with the extra-point kick, Murphy got the Tigers on the scoreboard with his record-setting kickoff return.
The Tigers were on the verge of slicing further into Alabama’s cushion, advancing to the 8 at the end of the half off a fumbled snap by punter Cody Mandell. But Adrian Hubbard stripped Berkstresser on a sack and C.J. Mosley ended up with the ball at the Missouri 49 with two seconds left.
The Crimson Tide quickly took control of the game, converting a blocked punt by Brandon Collins with a 17-yard drive capped by Yeldon’s 1-yard run to make it 21-0.
Lacy scored on the game’s second snap, cutting back across the field and leaving Kenronte Walker grabbing air at the Missouri 40 on a 73-yard run. Alabama then capitalized on Vinnie Sunseri’s second interception of the year, on a ball in and out of the arms of L’Damian Washington. Running a fleaflicker, McCarron hit Kenny Bell for a 44-yard gain to the 6 to set up Lacy’s second TD on a 3-yarder.
With rain intensifying, Brandon Collins stormed through the three-man shield untouched on the blocked punt.