Alabama came to the Show-Me State yesterday and showed off all the reasons the Crimson Tide deserves to be ranked the nation's No. 1 college-football team.

Although Alabama lost an early 17 point lead, it managed to prevail, 38-20, after Bear Bryant growled at his players at halftime and E.J. Junior responded by blocking a punt that turned the game in the Tide's favor.

"He came in at halftime and all he said was, 'You ain't hit nobody yet," Junior recalled. The Bear was not pleased after Missouri had fallen behind, 17-0, only to score 20 second-period points for a 20-17 lead at intermission.

"So he came in there and told us what we didn't do" Junior said, "and then we knew what we had to do. He was disappointed, put it that way. He just talked common sense. We took care of the rest." Junior, a sophomore defensive end, got Alabama rolling early in the third period when he came from his position on the right end and cleanly blocked punter Monte Montgomery's kick.

Linebacker Ricky Gilliland picked up the loose ball and, escorted by a halt - Other white-shirted teammates, didn't stop until he had traveled 35 yards into the Missouri end zone for a 24-20 Alabama lead 3 1/2 minutes into the third quarter.

Junior said there was nothing very special about his block, except that Missouri center Fred Heiding tipped off precisely when he would snap the ball by rocking on his heels just before flinging it back to the punter.

"That was the secret," said Junior. "When he moves, I move. I almost blocked one earlier in the game but the upback just got to me. I could have done that all day."

But once was enough to do in a Missouri team, that was coming into this affair off a 3-0 victory over Notre Dame last week.

"Without a doubt, the blocked punt turned the game around," said Missouri's first-year coach, Warren Powers. "I'm not even sure what happened. I just know they had a heck of a rush from our left saide. Those plays will kill you."

And so will those Alabama players.

Tide quarterback Jeff Rutledge, who had tossed up his first interceptions in 12 games yesterday came back from a dismal first-half showing to help ruin Missour's upset hopes.

After the squads had exchanged furbles midway through the third period, Rutledge came up with a cricical pass completion on third and eight at the Tiger 13 to set up Alabama players.

Tide quarterback Jeff Rutledge, who had tossed up his first interceptions in 12 games yesterday came back from a dismal first-half showing to help ruin Missour's upset hopes.

After the squads had exchangruin Missour's upset hopes.

After the squads had exchange fumbles midway through the third period, Rutledge came up with a cricical pass completion on third and eight at the Tiger 13 to set up Alabama's next touchdown.

Rutledge dropped back to pass and was rushed by four Missouri defenders. He scrambled back and just managed to get off his toss before being buried by linebacker Eric Berg. The throw went to Billy Jackson, all alone at the five, and he got down to the one.

Two plays later, halfback Tony nNathan scored from one yard out for a 31-20 Alabama lead with 2:04 left in the third period.

Alabama's defense kept the pressure on when tackle Marty Lyons smacked Missouri quarterback Phil Bradley and forced a fumble, recovered at the Tiger 26 by Alabama nose guard Curtis McGriff.

Three plays later, on another critical third-and-seven situation at the Missouri 23, Rutledge found reserve running back Lou Ikner alone at the right sideline. Ikner caught the ball at the 10, put a move on Missouri corner-back Johnnie Poe and scored on a touchdown play that covered 23 yards for a 38-20 Tide lead.

Alabama's defense was as much responsible for yesterday's victory as anything, despite that second-period lapse that gave a school-record crowd of 73,655 some consolation, and a lot of thrills.

But in the second half, quarterback Bradley was sacked four times and Missouri could manage only 95 yards of total offense,. Linebacker Barry Krauss led the Alabama charge with two of those sacks, and also recovered a fumble by his own punt-return man, Earl Gant, early in the fourth period.

"We just kind of relaxed in that second quarter. I don't really know why," Krauss said. "But we weren't down anything like that in the locker room. Coach Bryant just told us we had to come back."

Bryant declined to discuss what he had told his team in his postgame press conference, which was held in a bus because the locker room was too crowded. Bryant sat in the driver's seat -doesn't he always? - and snapped: "What I said is between me and the players.

"I'm just tickled to death to be here with a win. At one time, it looked like they'd run us right out of the state. We acted like we were ready to die instead of like we wanted to win it.

"If we didn't come back in the third quarter, they'd have remembered it the rest of their lives."