Ole Miss hung in for a quarter against heavily-favored Alabama on Saturday, but the Crimson Tide proved to be much too much as the Rebels fell by a final score of 59-31.
Alabama used a 31-0 second-quarter explosion to pull away after trailing Ole Miss 10-7 at the end of one period.
Ole Miss dropped to 2-3 overall and to 1-1 inside the Southeastern Conference. Alabama improved to 5-0 and to 2-0 in SEC play.
"Tough loss, " said Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke. "Credit Alabama. They're a good football team, very explosive on offense, as we knew going in...
"We tried to run the football early to make this a four-quarter game, but the middle of the second quarter got away from us. We never recovered.
"I'm proud of the guys. They kept battling and competing. We'll move forward and get better."
Can Luke take anything away about his team from the competitive first quarter?
"No. We came here to win. No excuses. The thing we've got to do is build on some of the positives...but there are a lot of things we've got to get corrected, too."
The Tide found a connection Ole Miss had no answer for, as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa connected with wide receiver DeVonta Smith for five touchdowns. Smith set Alabama single-game record for receiving yardage with 274 and touchdown receptions. His scoring catches covered distance of 74, 25, 23, 33 and 27 yards.
Ole Miss, without starting quarterback Matt Corral, turned to true freshman John Rhys Plumlee. In his first career start, Plumlee went 10-for-28 through the air with two touchdown passes and an interception, while rushing for 109 yards and a score on 25 attempts.
Fellow true freshman quarterback Grant Tisdale made his collegiate debut in fourth-quarter mop-up duty. Tisdale completed both of his pass attempts with his final throw hit true freshman Jadon jackson in stride in the end zone for a score from 28 yards out.
Plumlee led Ole Miss to 476 yards of total offense against Alabama. True freshman Jonathan Mingo led all receivers with three catches for 74 yards. He was targeted four times. Another true freshman, Jerrion Ealy, led all Ole Miss running backs with 11 carries for 68 yards, followed by true freshman Snoop Conner's 62 yards on 11 totes.
Ole Miss rushed for 279 yards on the Crimson Tide.
Alabama torched the Ole Miss defense for 573 yards of total offense. The Tide did most of their damage through the air, passing for 418 yards. Tagovailoa completed 26-of-36 passes for 418 yards and six touchdowns.
Safety Jaylon Jones led the Rebels' defensive effort with six tackles and one pass break-up.
The Crimson Tide rushed for 155 yards.
Ole Miss hosts Vanderbilt (1-3) next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Alabama scored 31 unanswered, second-quarter points to roll out to a 38-10 halftime lead over Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa connected four touchdown passes four time with wide receiver DaVonta Smith, including three in the second quarter. Smith has eight receptions for 221 yards and the four scores at the half.
Tagovailoa was 17-for-24 for 301 yards at the half.
Alabama out-gained Ole Miss 382 to 152 in total offense in the first two quarters.
The Rebels, without starter Matt Corral who is out with bruised ribs, started true freshman John Rhys Plumlee against the Tide. Plumlee has completed 5-of-11 passes for 45 yards while he leads the Rebels with 68 yards rushing.
Ole Miss led 10-7 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run from Plumlee following a special teams turnover from the Crimson Tide and later a 33-yard field goal off the leg of Luke Logan. Logan's field goal at the 2:36 mark of the period constituted the first time Alabama faced a deficit all season.
Alabama, though, struck first on a 74-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Smith to take an early 7-0 lead.
Ole Miss rushed for 107 yards in the first half. Snoop Conner leads the running backs with 19 yards on six carries, followed by Jerrion Ealy (3-13) and Scottie Phillips (6-for-7).