TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Lane Kiffin had a gambling problem Saturday and didn’t know when to quit.
Nick Saban did some gambling, too, and everyone knows the House always wins.
No. 12 Ole Miss, stunningly, went for it on fourth down five times in the first half, failing on its last three, which Alabama capitalized on with scoring drives. Meanwhile, Alabama was successful on three fourth-down tries that helped put away Ole Miss 42-21 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
It was not unexpected for Ole Miss to go for it on fourth down. Coming into Saturday the Rebels were 14 of 16 on fourth down. Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) knew that coming in.
"We really sold our players on the fact that when it's third down and seven, it's really third down and three and a half," Saban said. "And they are going to go for it on fourth down with any field position at all. You've got to have the mindset that you are going to play two third downs. The players did a good job of executing."
Ole Miss (3-1, 0-1 SEC) converted twice on fourth down on its first drive and Kiffin pushed his luck too far. But Kiffin also knew every possession against No. 1 Alabama was crucial and didn’t hesitate to go for broke.
"We got killed going for it on fourth down, but that's analytics and we believe in our players and it doesn't work all the time," Kiffin said. "When it doesn't work and you follow the book, it doesn't look good."
The first fourth-down bust was on the Rebels’ first drive. Facing fourth-and-1 on the UA 6, Ole Miss running back Jerrion Ealy was met by Tim Smith at the line of scrimmage.
"They gamble and it's up to us to stop them," Alabama linebacker Henry To’oTo’o said. "Whenever you can get off the field as a defense it's huge to be able to swing the momentum to your side."
UA took over and went 94 yards on 13 plays with quarterback Bryce Young a perfect 6-for-6 passing for 65 yards. He hit John Metchie on a 16-yard touchdown pass for the early 7-0 lead.
For the game, Young was 20 of 26 passing for 241 yards and two touchdowns.
That drive alone was probably enough to demoralize Ole Miss. The Rebels dug themselves in deeper on the next fourth-down decision near midfield. Alabama’s defense held and Young and the offense had a short field.
Ten plays later Alabama was back in the end zone with a 14-0 lead. Brian Robinson rushed for 43 of the Crimson Tide’s 47 yards on the scoring drive, including a 1-yard run up the middle on fourth-and-goal.
Robinson finished with career-highs in rushing yards (171), carries (35) and single-game touchdowns (four).
On its next possession Ole Miss went for it again on fourth-and-two on its own 31. To’oTo’o threw Ealy back for a four-yard loss.
"It was exciting, I was juiced," To'oTo'o said. "With a running back like (Ealy) we knew we were going to get a speed option. He was my man. As soon as he hopped we knew it was the speed option. We all saw it coming."
Alabama took over and needed just six plays and another fourth-down touchdown to make it 21-0. Cameron Latu did the honors this time, catching a 3-yard pass.
Alabama got another short field to work with just a few seconds later when Ole Miss fumbled on its first offensive play. Phidarian Mathis slapped the ball out of quarterback Matt Corral's hand, which Justin Eboigbe picked up at the Rebel 14.
Robinson scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard run for a 28-0 Crimson Tide lead.
It was more of the same in the second half as far as Alabama’s offense having its way with Ole Miss. Alabama opened the half with a six-play, 77-yard scoring drive, capped by Robinson’s third touchdown, another 1-yard run up the middle to make it 35-0.
Ole Miss finally got on the board in the third quarter on a 10-yard run from Corral. The Rebel quarterback was 21 of 29 passing for 213 yards, his lowest total of the season.
Robinson added his final touchdown run, from two yards this time, in the fourth quarter for a 42-7 lead. He had his longest run of the day (21 yards) on the drive.
Ole Miss had nowhere to run Saturday. Alabama's front dominated the Ole Miss line, allowing just 78 rushing yards. Ole Miss didn't abandon the run, but couldn't break through. The longest run was the 10-yard touchdown from Corral.
The Rebels did add two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, a 1-yard run from Snoop Conner and a 2-yard pass from Corral to Chase Rogers.
Alabama is on the road against Texas A&M next week. Kickoff is 7 p.m. and is televised by CBS.