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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Trent Richardson took a screen pass 85 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and No. 8 Alabama's defense was back to form in a 23-10 victory over Mississippi Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (6-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) rebounded from a loss to South Carolina that halted a run at No. 1 and ended a 19-game winning streak by smothering Jeremiah Masoli and the league's top scoring offense.
The Rebels (3-3, 1-2) came in averaging 37 points and had scored 97 in their previous two games. Their waning comeback hopes ended with Mark Barron's interception in the final 5 minutes. Marcell Dareus tipped the ball at the line and then DeQuan Menzie batted the ball into the air before Barron caught it.
Greg McElroy completed 17 of 25 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns for the Tide, which has won the last seven meetings and is 32-1-1 against Ole Miss in the state.
It was a drama-free if not pretty win for Alabama, which had appeared to be the odds-on favorite to repeat as defending national champions until losing last week. The race was further muddled this week when replacement No. 1 Ohio State lost to No. 18 Wisconsin.
But Mark Ingram and the Alabama running game were largely stymied by Ole Miss. Ingram, whose hopes for a repeat Heisman Trophy absorbed a huge blow with a rough game against the Gamecocks, was held to 60 yards on 15 carries.
The Tide's backfield did manage the one explosive play midway through the third quarter that effectively put it out of reach. Alabama's offense appeared stalled on third-and-11 when McElroy threw to Richardson, the other half of a formidable tailback duo that is suddenly struggling as opposing teams stack defenders near the line.
Richardson shook off tacklers at the line and sprinted down the left sideline for a 23-3 lead.
It was more than enough cushion with Alabama's defense staging a nice comeback a week after giving up 35 points to the Gamecocks.
The Tide defenders swarmed and kept Jeremiah Masoli in check on the ground and in a hurry to get rid of the ball. Ole Miss had just 41 yards and two first downs by halftime before starting to move the ball at times in the second half.
Masoli was 18-of-40 passing for 110 yards with a touchdown and interception.
The Rebels finally got into the end zone with Masoli's 15-yard pass to Melvin Harris with 4:40 left in the third quarter. It came on third-and-7, but by then thousands of Alabama fans had already headed for the exits.
Ole Miss didn't help its cause by committing 12 penalties for 106 yards.
Cade Foster kicked field goals of 49 and 44 yards for the Tide, while Jeremy Shelley had a 19-yarder.