(AP) Mark Ingram took his first handoff of the year and darted nearly 50 yards. Later, he went the other direction and dashed another 50.
Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner certainly is making up for lost time.
Ingram rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns in his season debut, and No. 1 Alabama routed Duke 62-13 on Saturday in its highest-scoring game in 19 years.
Greg McElroy matched a career high with three scoring passes for the Crimson Tide (3-0), who led 28-0 about 10 minutes in and looked completely at ease inside a crimson-coated stadium named for a former Alabama coach.
With Ingram and defensive end Marcell Dareus back in the lineup, the Tide – 24-point favorites – won their 17th straight and never were in danger of being upset or looking past Duke to next week’s SEC opener at No. 12 Arkansas.
“We always approach every game the same way: Just come in, wanting to dominate the opponent, make them never want to play us ever again,” Ingram said. “That’s the mindset we want them to have when we leave.”
Ingram, who missed the first two games after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, took his first carry 48 yards, surpassed the 100-yard mark two carries later and scored on rushes of 1 and 17 yards.
McElroy finished 14 of 20 for 258 yards in 2 1/2 quarters of work. Julio Jones caught five passes for 106 yards with a score, and Trent Richardson returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. Richardson also added a 45-yard scoring run for Alabama.
The Crimson Tide finished with its most points since scoring 62 against Tulane in 1991, and gained 626 total yards – the first time since 1989 that ‘Bama rolled up at least 600. The Tide’s 45 first-half points was Alabama’s most in any half since 1973, and the offense was so efficient that it didn’t face a third down until the third quarter.
“I think we obviously have the opportunity to be a very explosive offense. I think we’ve known that from the start,” McElroy said.
Sean Renfree was 17 of 37 for 144 yards for Duke (1-2). His 13-yard touchdown pass to Austin Kelly with 29 seconds left in the first half was the first TD of the season allowed by ‘Bama.
But it wasn’t nearly enough to prevent the Blue Devils from losing their 41st straight against a ranked opponent and falling to 0-11 against No. 1.
“I think we let the idea we were playing Alabama get to us, and we tried to do too much too early there,” Renfree said.
This one was different in Durham, where they spent the summer looking forward to welcoming to the Crimson Tide program to a stadium named for Wallace Wade, who led Alabama to three national titles before coming to Duke. The Blue Devils current coach, David Cutcliffe, is an Alabama graduate who got his start under Bear Bryant and regularly went up against his alma mater as the head coach at Mississippi and an assistant at Tennessee.
Alabama helped pack the place – the overflow crowd of 39,042 appeared to be nearly evenly split between ‘Bama crimson and Duke blue – and Ingram gave the fans in houndstooth plenty to cheer about on the first play.
“That’s the best Alabama team that I’ve seen,” Cutcliffe said. “Our whole team, because of the way they started the game, you get shocked early.”
Ingram spent the past two weeks recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, and agreed with coach Nick Saban’s decision to hold him out of last week’s Penn State game because “it really wasn’t worth risking it.”
From the first snap of this one, he looked 100 percent. He took a handoff on the first play, shook off an attempted tackle by Matt Daniels and darted down the right sideline to the Duke 12.
“I just really wanted to make an impact right off the jump,” Ingram said. “It was very satisfying knowing we got the call and I was one on one with the corner and had to make the play. It was good to just set the tone early.”
That set up McElroy’s scoring pass to Darius Hanks and made it 7-0 less than 80 seconds in.
On the next possession, it was Jones’ turn. Two plays after he had a 51-yard touchdown catch wiped out upon review – officials said he stepped out at the 16 – he scored on a quick slant from McElroy in the end zone.
Ingram began Alabama’s next series with a 50-yard run through a gaping hole on the left side, eclipsing 100 yards for the game, and capped that drive with a 1-yard dive to make it 21-0.
Three plays after Dre Kirkpatrick’s interception, Ingram juked in from 17 yards out to stretch it to a four-score game with 5 minutes left in the first. By that point, the Tide had a 247-8 advantage in total offense while the Blue Devils hadn’t gained a first down.
“We try to play to a standard, and it doesn’t really make any difference where we play,” Saban said. “It was important that we brought the right mentality here, from mental energy and total competitive standpoint, so that we would get better as a team. … That’s always the challenge.”
© 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.