When compiling top 10 plays of the season for college football teams, you’ll find it heavy on long touchdown passes or touchdown runs. But Alabama football? It’s an entirely different thing.
Sure, Alabama had an 85-yard run (Bo Scarbrough) and a 71-yard pass (Jalen Hurts to ArDarius Stewart), but defense and special teams dominated the Crimson Tide’s big-play catalog from 2016.
Interceptions, fumble returns, punt returns — you name it, Alabama had it.
10. Jalen Hurts’ first play
This was not the start Hurts wanted or Nick Saban wanted in the season opener against USC. On the freshman quarterback’s first play from scrimmage, he fumbled and USC recovered. But everything worked out: Alabama won 52-6 and Hurts threw for 2 touchdowns and rushed for 2 more. You think Saban knew what he was doing …
9. Eddie Jackson punt return vs. Ole Miss
The Rebels had momentum. Late in the first half it looked like they’d go into halftime with a two-touchdown lead. But that’s when Eddie Jackson flat-out turned on the jets on this punt return. It ignited a 31-6 Tide run and eventual 48-43 victory.
8. Minkah Fitzpatrick’s 100-yard pick-6 vs. Arkansas
How big of a day did Fitzpatrick have against the Razorbacks? He intercepted 3 Austin Allen passes and returned the final one from deep in the end zone for an official 100-yard touchdown return.
7. Rashaan Evans’ goal-line tackle vs. Gators
It wasn’t a game-saving play. But the goal-line stop Alabama made against Florida in the SEC Championship Game was impressive. The Gators had first-and-goal at the 2 and were stopped four times. Evans had the stop of the series, stuffing Jordan Scarlett on third down.
6. Ryan Anderson strip sack, Da’Ron Payne TD return
Alabama picked up where it left off at the end of the first half against Ole Miss. Anderson hit Chad Kelly along the goal line and Payne picked it up and lunged into the end zone for the score that tied the game at 24. (Go to the 3:55 mark of the video)
5. Jonathan Allen touchdown return vs. Ole Miss
With Ole Miss driving and close to pulling within one score of top-ranked Alabama, QB Chad Kelly was hit, the ball came out and into Allen’s hands. He then sprinted 75 yards for the fumble recovery score. Most impressive was the fact that he glanced up at the stadium’s video board to detect a Rebels player coming up from behind and trying to force a turnover. Allen covered up the ball and got his TD.
4. Ryan Anderson strip sack, Jonathan Allen fumble return vs. Texas A&M
No, it’s not a repeat. Anderson disrupted things in the backfield again and Allen picked up the loose ball, sidestepped Trevor Knight and ran 30 yards for another Alabama defensive touchdown.
3. Alabama stops Leonard Fournette (again)
Alabama simply has had Fournette’s number. He couldn’t do anything in 2015 and this season managed 35 yards on 17 carries with a long run of 9 yards. Just watch — the Crimson Tide gave him nothing.
2. Jalen Hurts TD run vs. LSU
LSU gave Alabama everything it had, and the Crimson Tide finally broke through early in the fourth quarter for the game’s first score. Hurts rolled out, cut up to the middle of the field and picked up two key blocks at the goal line to score from 21 yards. Alabama went on to win 10-0.
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) November 6, 2016
1. Jonathan Allen’s Superman sack of Trevor Knight
After scrolling through this list, was there any doubt Allen would win the Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player? The guy is a monster. And this just might be one of the best acts of athleticism you’ll see, especially from a 291-pound man. It forever will be known as “The Superman Sack.”
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) October 22, 2016