Jalen Hurts got to hand off the reins early to his backup.

No. 1 Alabama's quarterback got off to a perfect 7-of-7 passing start with 180 yards and three touchdowns against Mercer, an FCS team.  That included a 66-yarder to a wide open Calvin Ridley, who was able to wait for the ball for a moment and still score.

Then Hurts headed to the sidelines with a 28-0 lead and 11:51 left _ in the second quarter.

Three plays later, highly touted freshman Tua Tagovailoa also got the Crimson Tide into the end zone with a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Hale Hentges.

So half of 'Bama's first eight passes went for touchdowns, and none fell incomplete.

The game is a tuneup for next Saturday's showdown with No. 6 Auburn. The winner goes to the Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 7 Georiga.

Mercer drove into Alabama territory on each of its first two possessions but wound up with a missed field goal and a punt.