TUSCALOOSA – In the purest sense of the word, this was a game. In reality, this was a warmup for The Game.
Alabama defeated Georgia State 63-7 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in a game that was moved to Thursday night to give the 11th-ranked Crimson Tide (9-2) two more days to prepare for a Nov. 26 showdown against second-ranked Auburn (11-0).
Let the Iron Bowl buildup begin. As if it hadn’t already.
Alabama warmed up for its archrival with the kind of performance you would expect in a mismatch that pitted the 2009 national champion against a football team finishing its first season under former Alabama coach Bill Curry.
The Crimson Tide ran and passed up and down the field on its way to a 42-7 halftime lead.
Getting ready for a potent Auburn offense led by dynamic quarterback Cam Newton, Alabama’s defense forced five turnovers, including four interceptions that increased its nation-leading total to 21. One of those interceptions was returned 41 yards for a touchdown by freshman linebacker C.J. Mosley, his second TD of the season. The school record for most interceptions in a season is 25, set in 1979.
Alabama also scored on special teams as Chavis Williams blocked a punt and Brandon Gibson returned it 22 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter.
The Tide’s starters on offense didn’t even play a full half. Many walk-ons received playing time in the fourth quarter.
Greg McElroy completed 12 of 13 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Julio Jones caught seven passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns and Mark Ingram ran 12 times for 86 yards and one touchdown.
Running back Trent Richardon (knee) and right guard Barrett Jones (ankle) did not play.
Backup running back Eddie Lacy ran 13 times for 81 yards and one touchdown. Demetrius Goode (1 yard) and freshman Jalston Fowler (36 yards) also ran for touchdowns. Backup tight end Chris Underwood caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback AJ McCarron.
Alabama ran for 254 yards on 44 carries and Tide quarterbacks completed 19-of-22 passes for 217 yards. The Tide defense allowed Georgia State 161 yards of offense — 87 on the ground.
An attorney for Kenny Rogers says his client knows he made “a stupid decision” when he sent a fellow Mississippi State booster a text of Cecil Newton’s payment plan to secure a commitment from his son, Cam Newton, to the Bulldogs.
In a phone interview with The Associated Press Thursday, Doug Zeit says Rogers sent the text after Cecil Newton insisted he do it. Zeit says Rogers sent the text to Bill Bell requesting $80,000 the day after Cam Newton signed with MSU, $50,000 30 days later and another $50,000 30 days after that.
Zeit says no money ever changed hands.
The Newtons’ attorney, George Lawson, told WSB-TV of Atlanta on Thursday that he is “1 million percent” certain Cam Newton — who signed with Auburn — did not take any money. Lawson says if Cecil Newton discussed money, his son “knew nothing” about it.
Lawson told the Atlanta TV station that the Auburn quarterback has not taken any money in exchange for playing college football.
“No money has been offered to Cam Newton,” Lawson told WSB-TV. “Cam Newton [hasn't] asked for any money.”
Wednesday, ESPN.com reported that Bell, a Mississippi State booster and former player at the school, told the NCAA he received a text message from a man claiming to represent Newton’s father, Cecil, that outlined a payment plan designed to bring the quarterback to the Bulldogs.
Bell said Rogers told him Cecil Newton wanted money for his son to play at Mississippi State. Bell told ESPN.com he also shared a series of voice mail messages from Rogers with the NCAA last week. Bell said Cecil Newton never specifically asked him for money, but that Cecil Newton was present during three-way calls in which Rogers discussed a pay-for-play scheme.
Last week, a Mississippi State source told ESPN’s Joe Schad that, after Cam Newton committed to Auburn, he phoned another Bulldogs recruiter to express regret he wouldn’t be going to Mississippi State, stating that his father had chosen Auburn for him because “the money was too much.”
Lawson said the Newtons (Cecil; his wife, Jackie; and Cam) had been interviewed by the NCAA and had been “truthful and candid.” He said they will answer “any and all questions.”
“Cam Newton knew nothing about any money discussions if any discussions were had,” Lawson said.
He said what Cecil Newton told the NCAA has been truthful. Lawson was not asked if Cecil Newton had been involved in any discussions of money with Mississippi State or Auburn.
Bell told ESPN.com he kept Rogers’ text message on his old cell phone, which was damaged by water, but he is currently trying to retrieve the text message through his cell service provider.