On a day full of chaos across college football, No. 1 Alabama had no issues taking care of business against Missouri on Saturday night in a 39-10 victory. Even the Crimson Tide’s sometimes questionable defense had a good outing against a potential first round quarterback too.
But not even the return of ‘Dixieland Delight’ to Bryant Denny Stadium could make up for the stunned silence in Tuscaloosa when quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (265 yards, three touchdowns) went down with a knee injury on a first down scramble in the third quarter of the game and spent nearly 20 minutes in the team’s injury tent. Concern was ratcheted up another few notches when his parents made a visit to the tent to check in on him and again when the sophomore emerged with a heavier knee brace on and a minor limp.
Given the 20 point margin, it’s understandable that the signal-caller did not return to the game — and was officially listed as questionable after emerging back on the sideline — but the entire episode was enough on a day full of wild results to show why even the best team in the country can be at least a little vulnerable in this crazy sport of college football.
Tagovailoa wasn’t the only Tide starter to make the trip to the medical tent or locker room either. Receiver Henry Ruggs III missed the bulk of the third quarter after an injury but did return while fellow wideout Devonta Smith suffered a hamstring pull in the first half and was not seen the rest of the night.
Those absences were the story of the game even on an overall off night for Alabama’s offense. When he was in, Tagovailoa threw 10 incompletions (as many as he did in the previous three weeks combined) and the team squandered several opportunities inside the red zone that Nick Saban seemed visibly mad about. Damien Harris had 62 yards rushing (one score) and Najee Harris chipped in with another 57 on the ground while backup QB Jalen Hurts accounted for 137 total yards — including his first reception of the season in the first quarter.
The Crimson Tide being who they are though, were picked up by their defense several times as that unit recorded four sacks and managed to get a safety as well. They held potential first round quarterback Drew Lock to only 142 yards passing with one touchdown throw and two picks. The Tigers managed only 69 yards rushing too in a game that they had a few chances to make interesting but never did.
On a day where numerous top 25 teams faltered in a big way, most of the state of Alabama will likely breathe a sigh of relief that the Tide got the win and that the injuries to key players didn’t look too terrible all things considered. Saban wanted something to nitpick after an incredible start to the year and after the victory against Mizzou, he will have no problem coming up with things to work on going into the Third Saturday in October.