It was another Nick Saban lovefest at Alabama Saturday, but this one counted.
Terry Grant rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns in his first start and the Crimson Tide opened the Saban era with a fan-pleasing 52-6 victory over Western Carolina.
The $4 million-a-year coach filled the 92,138-seat Bryant-Denny Stadium for what amounted to a glorified scrimmage - much like the spring game.
Alabama won its sixth consecutive season opener, this one over a Football Championship Subdivision team that won just two games last season.
Grant is the successor to Kenneth Darby and he quickly emerged as the second most popular man in the stadium. The redshirt freshman rushed for a 47-yard touchdown on the Tide 's first play from scrimmage, shedding one defender and outrunning everyone else.
The young tailback added T-D runs of 1 and 21 yards before halftime, staking the Tide to a 24-3 lead. Grant had 18 carries and sat out the second half.