Tuscaloosa, AL – After outlasting Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in college football's fierce new rivalry last week, No. 1 Alabama welcomed back an old friend in Saturday's home opener.
It wasn't exactly an offensive performance that would've made its former coordinator proud.
Kenyan Drake ran for a touchdown and blocked a punt in the Crimson Tide's 31-6 victory over Colorado State in Jim McElwain's return to Tuscaloosa.
McElwain is in his second season as head coach of the Rams after serving as offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008-11 and winning two national titles.
The overmatched Rams don't have the offensive juggernaut at McElwain's disposal like he had at Alabama, but the Crimson Tide (3-0) failed to move the chains on each of their first eight third-down attempts against Colorado State's stingy defense. Alabama finished 2-for-10 on third down.
"I think the guys on the other sideline have earned some respect for Colorado State Rams and how hard we played the game," McElwain said.
The Rams (1-3) trailed just 17-6 before Alabama pulled away with a pair of scores in the fourth. A.J. McCarron's 30-yard TD strike to DeAndrew White and Blake Sims' 14-yard TD flip to Chris Black sealed the win for the hosts.
"Offensively, we couldn't run the ball with any consistency or effectiveness. Even though we did a pretty good job passing, it had to be four or five times that we moved the ball down the field and got just outside the red zone, and we had something happen like throw an interception, miss a field goal, make a field goal, get sacked. Just too many negative plays," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said.
McCarron was 20-of-26 for 258 yards with a touchdown and interceptions for the Crimson Tide, who outgained the Rams just 248-227 while running 17 fewer plays through the first three quarters.
T.J. Yeldon was suspended for the opening quarter and finished with seven carries for 49 yards for Alabama.
Starting cornerbacks Deion Belue and Jarrick Williams, backup safety Nick Perry and wide receiver Kevin Norwood didn't play due to injuries.
Garrett Grayson was 24-of-38 for 228 yards and Joe Hansley hauled in six balls for 82 yards for Colorado State, which wore a special logo on its uniforms in recognition of the flood victims in the state.
Alabama missed a field goal and punted on its first two touches before Drake capped an 8-play, 84-yard march with a 3-yard TD plunge late in the first to open the scoring.
Drake's blocked punt early in the second led to a Dillon Lee 15-yard scoop and score and Foster's 46-yard field goal gave the Crimson Tide a 17-0 cushion at the break.
Bernard Blake intercepted McCarron on Alabama's first touch of the third, which led to a Jared Roberts 45-yard field goal to get the Rams on the board midway through the stanza.
Roberts' 31-yard field goal on the Rams' next sequence got them within 17-6 in the final stages of the third.
Colorado State then forced a three-and-out, but Trey DePriest forced a Grayson fumble on the first play of the Rams' next drive and McCarron found White a play later for a 30-yard score to give the hosts some breathing room.
Alabama outgained Colorado state 338-279 ... Colorado State was 4-of-15 on third down ... The Crimson Tide committed just two penalties for 15 yards ... Alabama hosts Ole Miss next Saturday.