BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Ticker) -- Tyler Watts passed for 236 yards and two touchdowns as Alabama held off Middle Tennessee State, 39-34, in the season opener for both teams.
Watts, who completed 16-of-22 passes, threw TD tosses of 35 yards to Sam Collins and 15 yards to David Cavan in the first quarter, helping the Crimson Tide build a 22-0 lead.
Alabama (1-0), which is on NCAA probation for the next two years and ineligble for a bowl, posted its fifth straight victory. But the win did not come without some anxious moments in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 29-14 after three periods, Middle Tennesse State (0-1) scored twice in the first six minutes of the fourth.
Don Calloway scored on a four-yard TD run 44 seconds into the quarter and ReShard Lee went over from the 1 with 9:04 left, pulling the Blue Raiders within 29-27.
But Michael Ziffle kicked a 28-yard field goal with 3:18 left and linebacker Freddie Roach put away the game just 22 seconds later with a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Middle Tennessee closed to 39-34 on Dwone Hicks' five-yard TD scamper with 2:21 to play.
Ahmaad Galloway ran for 77 yards on 15 carries for the Crimson Tide, who had a 430-385 edge in total yards.
Andrico Hines completed 16-of-24 passes for 165 yards and an interception for Middle Tennessee. Lee paced the Blue Raiders on the ground with 56 yards on 11 carries.