TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - The North Texas offense was nowhere to be found and its defense was gouged in a record-setting way.
Yet new coach Dan McCarney wasn't completely down on his team after No. 2 No. 2 Alabama and one of the nation's top defenses held the Mean Green to 91 total yards and had two tailbacks run wild at times in a 41-0 victory on Saturday night.
``We don't have an identity right now,' McCarney said. ``It'd be fun to go out there and play a bad Division I team right now but we didn't have that chance tonight. We had to play the No. 2 team in the country and as good as a defense you'll see in college football. That hinders our development on offense.'
It also left the Mean Green 0-3 for the fourth time in five years after facing three straight teams that are favored to win their respective conferences.
On the bright side, this was undoubtedly the biggest test McCarney's first North Texas team will face this season.
Alabama tailbacks Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy were bottled up much of the game but each had a pair of long touchdown runs and career rushing highs of 160-plus yards. The Crimson Tide (3-0) had never had two backs run for even 150 yards in the same game.
``When you let running backs go untouched for multiple rushing touchdowns it's completely unacceptable,' McCarney said. ``But there were some series and plays in that game that we can build upon. We still have a lot of snaps to play.'
Richardson scored three times - including a 58-yarder and a career-long 71-yarder - and had most of his 167 yards on the two long ones to help Alabama race into its showdown with No. 14 Arkansas.
Lacy scored on runs of 43 and 67 yards and gained 161 yards against the nation's 117th-rated defense.
Alabama's defense recorded its first shutout since a 45-0 victory over Chattanooga on Nov. 21, 2009, thanks to a blocked field goal by Robert Lester and a goal line stand in the final minutes.
The Tide racked up 347 yards rushing and outgained North Texas 586-91.
McCarney, who spent three seasons at Florida vying for league titles against Alabama, thinks his new team faced another contender.
``We obviously know what a national championship team looks like by coaching on one at Florida and playing one tonight,' McCarney said. ``I think they have the pieces in place to go and compete for a title this season. They're just fast, relentless and physical playmakers. They suffocated our offensive line. Every time we looked to build some momentum, they continued to dominate our front.'
Alabama's physical, aggressive defense set the tone against a team that is now 1-42 against ranked opponents and is off to its fourth 0-3 start in five years. North Texas had 25 yards and one first down in the opening half and only crossed midfield twice. Leading rusher Lance Dunbar gained 16 yards on 17 carries.
Tide quarterback AJ McCarron, meanwhile, completed 15 of 21 passes for 190 yards before giving way to backup Philip Sims in the fourth quarter - and part of the second.
The running backs didn't steal the show until the second half.
Richardson ran his season total to eight touchdowns while he and Lacy together averaged 16.4 yards on 20 carries.
The game went from dominating to downright ugly in a 15-minute span, starting with Richardson's 58-yarder down the left sideline in the third quarter. Lacy then burst untouched through the line on the only play of a drive early in the fourth.
North Texas racked up four sacks and recovered fumbles by both Tide quarterbacks.
But the shutout stood after North Texas opted to go for a touchdown in the final minutes instead of kicking a short field goal. Backup quarterback Andrew McNulty's fourth-down pass from the 3 sailed incomplete.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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