2016: ALABAMA VS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Despite replacing a Heisman Trophy winner and debuting a new starting quarterback, the Alabama Crimson Tide entered the 2016 AdvoCare Classic ranked atop the preseason polls. And, just like it did when it opened its 2013 and 2015 national championship seasons, the Crimson Tide appeared in mid-season form against an outmanned opponent. By the end of the night, Alabama had another statement win, this one a 52-6 rout of the No. 20 USC Trojans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.
The Crimson Tide took a while to get rolling, leaving some Alabama fans grumbling after the USC defense shut them out in the first quarter. But Nick Saban and the Alabama coaching staff found the right pieces as the game went on, including bringing freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts off the bench to spark the Tide to 17 unanswered points in the second quarter. From there, there was little the Trojans could do to maintain the Tide in what was billed as a battle of two of the most storied programs in college football history.
Hurts, a Texas native, seemed at home in his native state, finishing 6-for-11 for 118 yards and two touchdowns passing while adding another 32 yards rushing with two more scores in his collegiate debut. The one-two punch of Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough quickly made Alabama fans forget Derrick Henry and his Heisman Trophy season, combining for 174 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Alabama entered the game on upset alert after two Top 5 teams were upset in neutral-site games earlier in the day, but the Crimson Tide were having none of it before a crowd of 81,359, the seventh-highest attendance for a college football game at AT&T Stadium. USC’s 17-game season opening winning streak came crashing down in the process, as Alabama set the record for the largest margin of victory for any college football game ever played in AT&T Stadium. The loss was also the worst season opening loss for USC since 1966 when the Trojans lost 51-0 to Notre Dame.