Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Alabama fans can’t take their time getting settled in for the start of games.
They might miss a touchdown, or two or three.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide has wasted no time pouncing on opponents this season, jumping out to big leads that have effectively taken away any drama about the outcome.
“Whenever we can do that, it really brings a lot of energy at the start of the game,” tight end Hale Hentges said Monday. “Obviously, everyone was all pumped up and excited to play right off the bat, but whenever we can go and execute exactly what you wanted to do right off the bat, it brings a lot of confidence to the game plan.”
Alabama, which hosts Missouri Saturday night, opened the 65-31 victory against Arkansas with a 76-yard touchdown catch by tight end Irv Smith Jr. Before 10 minutes ticked off the clock, the Tide had scored two more touchdowns with drives consuming just 4:02.
All told, Alabama has scored 238 points in the first half while allowing just 34. Theoretically, the team could have gone scoreless in the second half of every game and still be undefeated.
Coach Nick Saban said it boils down to execution and a good game plan, particularly those early scripted plays offensively by coordinator Mike Locksley.
“That has been able to take advantage of some situations that we see from the defense,” Saban said.
“And I think the quarterbacks have done a really good job of executing the reads on a lot of these plays.
“It’s been a real asset for us to be able to get off to a good start in games and get a little bit of a lead. But we’re going to play better and better defenses as we go, so that will become more challenging.”
If Alabama fans aren’t necessarily riveted to their seats in the final minutes, the opening ones have been much more enticing.
Here are some highlights of Alabama’s fast starts:
■Tua Tagovailoa has gone 18-of-20 passing for 462 yards and six touchdowns before the half of the past two games combined. He only attempted one second-half pass.
■The Tide’s 39.7-point first-half average would rank 26th nationally and fourth in the SEC in points per game. Tagovailoa and Co. are also averaging 375.7 yards in the first half of games.
■Alabama scored on its first offensive play against Arkansas and Texas A&M
■The Crimson Tide scored 21 points in the first 10 minutes against the Razorbacks and 28 by the second quarter against Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi.
Alabama has avoided coming out sluggish in any game despite being heavily favored in every one.
“It just doesn’t matter who we play,” Hentges said. “It doesn’t matter if were favored. It doesn’t matter if we’re not favored. We’re going to go in every single time and just do our job, execute. I think that really speaks to our focus as a team.”
Nebraska getting closer?
There’s no tangible evidence to back them up, but first-year coach Scott Frost and his players sense a breakthrough is coming for a winless Nebraska team approaching the midway point of the season.
Mind you, this comes from a team with one of the worst defenses in the nation, the team that averages the most penalties and one that just lost by 17 points at Wisconsin.
“Our team definitely has a little bit of new energy to it,” quarterback Adrian Martinez said Monday. “I feel like this past week we were really jelling well. It’s definitely bound to happen and happen soon, I believe. I feel good.
“We’ve got to keep preparing and believing in ourselves regardless, go into each week knowing we can win this game.”
The Cornhuskers (0-5, 0-3 Big Ten) get their next chance Saturday at Northwestern (2-3, 2-1). The Huskers are 3-0 in games in Evanston, Illinois, since joining the Big Ten in 2011.
Oklahoma confirmed Monday that it has fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops after the Sooners struggled to stop Texas in their first loss of the season.
The Sooners said Monday that Ruffin McNeill, the assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach, will be the defensive coordinator for the rest of the season.
The No. 11 Sooners (5-1) lost 48-45 on Saturday, allowing 501 yards to the Longhorns in Dallas.
... Saban says cornerback Trevon Diggs is out indefinitely because of a broken foot.
Saban said Monday that Diggs was injured Saturday during the game against Arkansas and he didn’t know about the injury until after an MRI on Sunday.
Saban didn’t say who will replace Diggs in the starting lineup Saturday night against Missouri. Saivion Smith and freshman Patrick Surtain Jr. have both started games at the opposite cornerback spot.
Diggs has 20 tackles and an interception while leading the Tide with six pass breakups.
Week 7 top games
■Minnesota at Ohio State, noon (FS1)
■Pittsburgh at Notre Dame, 2:30 (NBC)
■Georgia at LSU, 3:30 (CBS)
■Washington at Oregon, 3:30 (ABC)
■Michigan State at Penn State, 3:30 (FS1)
■Baylor at Texas, 3:30 (ESPN)
■Missouri at Alabama, 7 (ESPN)
■Wisconsin at Michigan, 7:30 (ABC)
■Colorado at USC, 10:30 (FS1)