OXFORD, Miss. — First Mississippi got beat up in a 52-7 loss to No. 2 Alabama on Saturday night. Then the Rebels had to deal with more devastating blows.
Trent Richardson abused the Ole Miss defense with career marks of 183 yards rushing and four touchdowns, and the reeling Rebels also lost starting cornerback Marcus Temple to a fractured right ankle and starting defense end Wayne Dorsey to a broken right arm. Both are likely out for the season.
The hits will keep on coming for the Rebels (2-4, 0-3 SEC), too. The Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0) is just the first of three straight ranked opponents and Houston Nutt's old team, No. 10 Arkansas, is coming to town next.
"Those were some key players that we just lost, so somebody has to step up and fill their positions," Ole Miss linebacker Mike Marry said. "They were big playmakers and also big leaders on and off the field."
Richardson displayed his uncommon speed and power against the Rebels. The junior rushed for touchdowns of 8 and 7 yards in the first half and opened the second half with another 8-yard score. Richardson then delivered what might be his signature run on Alabama's next possession, shedding four tacklers on a weaving 76-yard run that included a stop-and-go burst over the final 10 yards.
"No one has been able to tackle him consistently this year," Nutt said. "I do not care what team they are playing against, they have a good offensive line and they do not ask AJ McCarron to do too much. He is a tough running back and is one of the top in the country. He should be a Heisman Trophy candidate."
It was the most lopsided defeat since a 49-3 loss to Florida in 1981 for Ole Miss. The Rebels have lost eight straight to Alabama, which hadn't scored this many points in an SEC game since 1990.
Things started well for the Ole Miss. Randall Mackey's 59-yard pass completion to the 2 on the game's fourth play helped the Rebels take a 7-0 lead on their opening drive. But after giving up 72 yards on that drive's five plays, the Crimson Tide held Ole Miss without a yard for the rest of the half, a total of 18 plays, on the way to a 17-7 lead.
Richardson and Jalston Fowler, who finished with 125 yards rushing, helped the Tide rush for 389 yards (9.3 yards per carry) and Alabama finished with 615 total. The Rebels didn't find much room in the second half either, and finished with 113 total yards and just 28 rushing.
The Crimson Tide forced two turnovers, sacked Mackey five times after entering the game with just 10 in six games and stopped the Rebels' only real second-half threat with a goal-line stand.
"When you cannot run the ball it makes things difficult," Nutt said. "We knew it was going to be an uphill battle. They are very stingy with giving up yards and they haven't given up many all year."