Associated Press Photo
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Sports Network) - A.J. McCarron completed 17-of-22 passes for a career-best 306 yards along with four touchdowns, as top-ranked Alabama blew out Tennessee, 44-13, at Neyland Stadium.
T.J. Yeldon rushed for 129 yards and a pair of scores for the Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC), which hosts nationally-ranked Mississippi State next Saturday night. The Bulldogs are also 7-0 following a blowout win over Middle Tennessee.
Amari Cooper caught seven passes for 162 yards and two TDs.
"Everyone came out fired up. We came out and set the tone early, and that's what we needed to do," McCarron said.
A.J. Johnson ran for a touchdown, and Tyler Bray completed 13-of-27 passes for 184 yards and was picked off twice for the Volunteers (3-4, 0-4), who lost their third straight game.
"We got whipped by a great football team in just about every phase," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. "I'm really disappointed that we didn't execute a little better on offense. That's probably the thing I was a little surprised at. The quarterback didn't play well. Not sure why. It's a great defense. That's not to take anything away from Alabama. Nobody's really done much on them."
McCarron found Cooper alone in the right side of the end zone for a 23-yard score with 8:18 left in the first quarter.
Michael Palardy then kicked a 32-yard field goal for the Volunteers, and Tennessee stayed in the game when Cade Foster missed wide right on a 44-yard field goal try early in the second quarter.
C.J. Mosley's interception of Bray set up the Crimson Tide at the Tennessee 32. Yeldon carried the ball all four times during the short drive, finishing it with a 1-yard plunge. The margin stood at 13-3 due to a blocked extra point try.
Cooper's 54-yard catch highlighted another Alabama scoring drive. McCarron's pass to a wide open Michael Williams in the end zone widened the gap to 20-3 with 6:55 remaining in the half.
Johnson scored on a 2-yard run off a direct snap on the ensuing series, but the Crimson Tide got a 34-yard field goal from Jeremy Shelley with 1:24 left for a 23-10 difference at the break.
The Vols may have been closer, but Justin Hunter dropped a long pass that would have put Tennessee in field goal range.
Foster missed a 45-yard field goal attempt early in the third, this after Alabama had a TD pass wiped out due to a penalty.
The Vols threatened to cut into the deficit later in the period, but Johnson was stuffed for no gain on 4th-and-1 from the Alabama 33.
"I think it was a big play of the game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "It was big on third down because they took a shot, and we defended it."
The Crimson Tide drove to the end zone on the following series with McCarron's 42-yard TD strike to Cooper.
Alabama turned an interception into points early in the fourth when Kenny Bell caught a 39-yard scoring toss from McCarron for a 37-10 margin.
Yeldon scored on a 43-yard run before Palardy kicked a 21-yard field goal.