The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 21, 2012

McCarron, No. 1 Alabama rout Tennessee 44-13

— KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Practicing against the nation's best defense each day apparently is helping Alabama develop a championship-caliber offense.

A.J. McCarron threw for a career-high 306 yards and four touchdowns Saturday night as the top-ranked Crimson Tide trounced Tennessee 44-13 at Neyland Stadium. The Tide have scored at least 30 points in each of their first seven games, the longest streak to start a season in school history.

McCarron's four touchdown passes matched a career high set twice previously. He has 16 touchdown tosses with no interceptions this season. The junior quarterback called it the most complete game Alabama has played all year.

"We set the tone and we stayed on it," he said. "We never let up, and that was the biggest thing Coach keeps preaching."

McCarron got plenty of help from a pair of freshmen.

Amari Cooper caught seven passes for 162 yards, the most receiving yards ever by an Alabama freshman. He scored on a 23-yard reception in the first quarter and a 42-yard catch in the third. Cooper also had a 30-yard touchdown in the third period nullified by a penalty.

T.J. Yeldon ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries for his second consecutive game with at least 100 yards.

"We just kept grinding and grinding," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "We squandered a few opportunities at times, but I think the key to the drill was just keep playing and play the next play. Compete and be relentless in how you do it."

Alabama's defense also was as relentless as ever.

Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC) had scored at least 31 points in each of its first six games, but the Volunteers couldn't muster much offense against an Alabama team that entered Saturday leading the nation in total defense, scoring defense, run defense and pass efficiency defense.

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