TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The ball seldom hit the ground, regardless of which Alabama quarterback was throwing the passes.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide’s defense also held its third straight opponent out of the end zone.
AJ McCarron completed 15 of 16 passes for 166 yards and four touchdowns in the first half and Alabama was brutally efficient in rolling to a 45-3 victory over Georgia State on Saturday.
“That’s what we were looking for,” Tide wide receiver DeAndrew White said. “We try to play a perfect game. Special teams, offense, defense coming together, that’s what we want.”
The Tide (5-0) jumped ahead 38-0 by halftime in what might have turned into a name-your-score game against the Panthers (0-5), a first-year Football Bowl Subdivision team.
McCarron led Alabama to touchdowns on each of his five possessions before leaving and set the school record for completion percentage in a game with a minimum of 15 passes. He completed his first 12 passes, putting him in a three-way tie for the Tide’s third-longest streak.
The four touchdown passes matched his career high and was the seventh time McCarron has reached that number. Alabama outgained the Panthers 477-175 and held them to 15 yards on 22 rushes.
Tide coach Nick Saban’s summation of the offense: “I thought our efficiency was really good.”
The defense was equally effective. Alabama has allowed only three field goals in the past three games.
“It’s a lot of pride,” safety Landon Collins said. “That’s our defense. That’s what we live upon. That’s what we pride (ourselves) on: No offense can score on us, and that’s what we try to do every game we come into.”
Georgia State ended Alabama’s bid for a second straight shutout with Wil Lutz’s school-record 53-yard field goal to cap the second half’s opening drive. Ronnie Bell’s 34-yard pass to Albert Wilson put the Panthers across midfield for the first time and helped set up the score.
Bell completed 11 of 20 passes for 146 yards. Albert Wilson gained 60 yards on four catches.
“They did a great job of doing what they wanted to do, when they wanted to do it,” Georgia State coach Trent Miles said. “I thought our young men competed hard. When you’re playing the No. 1 team in the nation at their place and you’re a major underdog, you can’t help them and we went out there and helped them early in the game. We went out and fumbled a kickoff return, we missed tackles, and we had some young guys not line up right.
“I’m not sure if they were nervous or what, but it just made their job a little easier.”
Collins started in place of Tide safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. He reportedly accepted a short-term loan from an assistant, but the star’s absence wasn’t a problem in the mismatch. Clinton-Dix’s status remains uncertain for next week’s game at Kentucky.
“I don’t have any new information and when we get new information, we’ll certainly pass it along to you,” Saban said.
The Tide scored on every possession until freshman sub Adam Griffith missed a 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and only punted once. Numerous subs played on both sides of the ball for Alabama, starting before the half.
Backup quarterback Blake Sims wasn’t far behind McCarron’s accuracy. He completed 14 of 18 passes for 130 yards and his second career touchdown, a 10-yard pass to Chris Black that was the game’s final score with 6:18 left in the third quarter.
Alabama scored three touchdowns in the first quarter, capping it with White’s one-handed grab for an 11-yard scoring catch one play after the Tide recovered a fumbled punt return.
Backup tailback Kenyan Drake added a 23-yard catch on a swing pass early in the second quarter. He bounced off a defender near the line of scrimmage and dove into end zone.
Starter T.J. Yeldon ran for 28 yards on the game’s first play and finished with six carries for 51 yards.
Drake finished with five carries for 40 yards. Freshman Derrick Henry gained 50 yards on five carries.
Alabama freshman defensive end A’Shawn Robinson made his first career start in place of Jeoffrey Pagan (shoulder), but plenty of other youngsters and reserves saw significant action.
The defense didn’t miss a beat.
“They got to the ball very fast, which got us to play faster,” Bell said. “So when we get into competition with the Sun Belt, then we’ll play faster.”