TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- No. 1 Alabama won an ugly decision over Chattanooga, 31-3, on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Crimson Tide's defense shut the Mocs down, but Alabama's offense looked sluggish for much of the night.
"Well that probably wasn't our best effort, but I think you have to give the Chattanooga players a lot of credit," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "They really played hard, and they played well. They played with a lot of grit and a lot of toughness. We knew this would be a challenge for us at this point in the season to get our guys to play at a high level even though we wanted to kind of build on the momentum."
Heisman Trophy contender Jalen Hurts threw for three touchdowns in the win.
Late in the third quarter, Alabama finally handed the ball off to one of its running backs and Damien Harris cashed in. Harris broke free for a 25-yard touchdown run to make it 21-3 in the third.
Alabama backup kicker Andy Pappanastos added a 33-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to make it 24-3. Hurts added his third touchdown of the day on another 1-yard toss to Gehrig Dieter.
"It felt really good. We came out a little slow, but we picked it up in the second half," Dieter said. "I do think we will be playing a lot better next week."
Alabama limped into halftime with a 14-3 lead after playing arguably its sloppiest half of the season.
After forcing Alabama to punt to open the game, Chattanooga drove into Alabama territory on its first drive. Mocs kicker Henrique Ribeiro connected on a 47-yard field goal to give Chattanooga a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
"I thought our guys played hard with a lot of energy and excitement," Chattanooga coach Russ Huesman said. "It was really physical out there, and I am really proud of how our guys fought. I think that every one of our players played hard. Obviously you can't make mistakes against a really good football team."
It took a quarter, but Alabama finally found some offense to start the second period. Hurts threw a perfect pass that found wide receiver Calvin Ridley for a 47-yard touchdown to put the Crimson Tide up 7-3 early in the second quarter.
"I thought our defense played really well. We sacked him (Jalen Hurts) a bunch, and he probably hasn't been sacked that much this year," Huesman said. "We played good, and we did a good job of flushing him out. We gave up the first deep ball, but that's a guy (Calvin Ridley) that can run, and he just got behind us on that play. We made a commitment coming into this game that we weren't going to let them get behind us, and for the most part we did that. That got behind us that one time."
Midway through the period, Chattanooga muffed a punt that set Alabama up inside the 10-yard line.
After three runs, Alabama went for it on fourth-and-1 with Hurts finding Dieter for the 1-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-3.
NOTES: Jalen Hurts is now Alabama's single-season QB rushing leader with 803 yards, breaking the old record of 791 yards by Steadman Shealy (1979). ... Alabama LT Cam Robinson left the game early in the fourth quarter and did not return. Saban said he had a minor shoulder injury, but should be fine going forward. ... Alabama OL Korren Kirven left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return. Saban said he had a minor shoulder injury, but should be fine going forward. ... Alabama hosts Auburn next Saturday in the Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide have already clinched the SEC West and a date in the conference championship game Dec. 3 in Atlanta. ... Chattanooga's 3-0 lead in the first quarter marked the first time Alabama trailed in a game since Oct. 22, when Texas A&M led 14-13 in the third quarter before the Crimson Tide scored the last 20 points.