Mark Ingram ran for a career-high 140 yards and a touchdown to lead No. 3 Alabama past mistake-prone Kentucky 38-20 on Saturday.
Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy added a pair of scoring passes as the Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) pulled away from the Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) during a dizzying stretch in the second and third quarters when it scored 24 points in just over 5 minutes.
Derrick Locke ran for 76 yards and added another 63 yards receiving for Kentucky but fumbled late in the first half. Alabama's Courtney Upshaw picked the ball up and sprinted 45 yards for a touchdown to give Alabama a 21-6 halftime lead and send the Crimson Tide off to the races.
Alabama turned four Kentucky turnovers into 17 points and had little trouble moving the ball after a sluggish start.
Crimson Tide players said in the days leading up to the game they weren't concerned about trying to match Florida style point for style point after the top-ranked Gators demolished the Wildcats a week ago.
Maybe, but Alabama took a similar route to the same destination. Florida buried Kentucky with a 31-point first-quarter deluge.
Alabama saved its run for the second and third quarters after nearly falling behind for the first time all season.
The Crimson Tide was backed up at its 3 when Ingram was swallowed up by Kentucky's Micah Johnson in the end zone for what looked like a safety. Officials ruled that Ingram had managed to get the nose of the ball past the goal line.
It was all the breathing room Alabama would need.
Given the reprieve, the Crimson Tide steadily worked the ball downfield, with McElroy finding tight end Colin Peek for a 3-yard score to put Alabama up 14-6 with 41 seconds left in the half.
Kentucky tried to answer right back when Mike Hartline dumped the ball to Locke. Alabama's Rolando McClain stripped it loose, and Upshaw scooped it up and beat Hartline to the end zone to make it 21-6.
Things didn't get any better for Kentucky in the second half. Hartline threw an interception on the second play of the third quarter, and McClain returned it to the Kentucky 38. The Crimson Tide needed just two plays to score, as Ingram darted up the middle for 32 yards to make it 28-6.
Hartline threw his third interception four plays later and Leigh Tiffin drilled a 36-yard field goal to make it 31-6 with 10:18 left in the third.
Things got a little edgy late. The Crimson Tide was trying to milk the clock late in the fourth quarter with an 18-point lead when Kentucky started to call timeouts.
Alabama responded by running a fake field goal with 3 minutes left. The Crimson Tide converted when punter/holder P.J. Fitzgerald ran for a first down. McElroy ended the drive by throwing to the end zone on fourth down; the ball fell incomplete, but the message was delivered.
McElroy completed 15 of 26 passes for 148 yards, most of them throws underneath against a Kentucky defense determined not to get beat deep.
(This version CORRECTS No. 3 Alabama 38, Kentucky 20; corrects Alabama nearly fell behind to first time all season in 7th graf.)
© 2009 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.