Associated Press

Easy dozen: No. 1 Alabama rolls to 12th straight win over Tennessee

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The good news for Tennessee: the Vols scored more points on No. 1 Alabama than they have at any point in their 11-game losing streak to the Clemson Tide.

The bad: it wasn’t near enough.

Though backup quarterback Keller Chryst exploited worrisome vulnerabilities in a work-in-progress Alabama secondary, it was too little, too late as Tua Tagovailoa and company overwhelmed the Vols en route to a 58-21 romp in Knoxville.

Alabama opened up leads of 14-0 less than five minutes into the game and 28-0 a dozen minutes in, cruising to a 42-14 halftime lead. It was the fifth time in eight games Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) has hit the 40-point barrier in the first half, and the first half Tennessee (3-4, 1-3 SEC) has allowed the same since a 62-37 loss to Florida on Sept. 16, 1995.

The 58 points are the most Alabama has ever scored in 100 games against Tennessee. The 37-point margin marks the ninth time (and third consecutive) Alabama has beaten Tennessee by at least 20 points during the ongoing 12-game streak.

In two-plus quarters, Tagovailoa furthered his Heisman campaign by hitting 19-of-29 passes for 306 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Chryst entered for an injured and ineffective Jarrett Guarantano (5-of-10 for 63 yards) and fired two second quarter touchdown passes, finishing 9-of-15 for 164 yards with no interceptions.

Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and, for the eighth time in eight tries, scored a touchdown on its opening possession. Tagovailoa guided the Crimson Tide 58 yards in nine plays, including a 10-yard connection to Jaylen Waddle on a 3rd-and-10 from the Tennessee 35 and an 11-yard scoring toss to Jerry Jeudy.

And then came the knockout punch.

On a 3rd-and-10 from the Tennessee 25, Alabama’s Xavier McKinney sacked Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Christian Miller for the visitors at the Vols’ 3. Josh Jacobs punched it in for the score, putting the Tide up 14-0 at the 10:35 mark of the first quarter.

After the score, Alabama’s defense forced a three-and-out, and Tagovailoa hit Waddle for a 77-yard touchdown strike on the first snap of the ensuing possession.

After another Vols three-and-out, Alabama moved 93 yards in nine plays, gaining 46 yards on two completions to Jeudy and scoring on a 3-yard Damien Harris rush, pushing Alabama’s lead to 28-0 with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Tennessee regrouped in the second quarter, forcing two straight three-and-outs (a first for Alabama this season), then moving 75 yards in five plays to get on the board. Guarantano hit Josh Palmer for a 30-yard gain but was forced to leave the game after taking a hit. Chryst entered and found Ty Chandler for consecutive gains of 26 and 10 yards, the latter putting Tennessee on the board at 28-7 with 7:21 to play in the first half.

Jeremy Pruitt called for an onside kick after the score, which Tennessee recovered… one yard before it was allowed to do so.

Alabama took over at the Tennessee 43 and capitalized with its fifth first half touchdown, a 2-yard Jacobs plunge that moved Alabama’s lead to 35-7 with 4:23 left in the first half.

But Chryst’s presence in the game continued to exploit a vulnerability in the Alabama secondary. Facing a 3rd-and-12 at his own 17, Chryst found Jauan Jennings for consecutive gains of 23 and 40 yards to move the ball to the Alabama 20. After an incompletion to Jennings, Chryst connected with Tyler Byrd for a 20-yard touchdown strike, pulling the Vols back within 21 with 2:18 left before the break.

Though Tennessee may have cracked the Alabama defense, the Tide’s offense remained unstoppable. Alabama needed 123 seconds to move 85 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 9-yard toss from Tagovailoa to Irv Smith, Jr.

Alabama opened the second half scoring by corralling Chryst in the end zone for a safety, then completed Tagovailoa’s day with a 41-yard scoring strike to Henry Ruggs III.

Jalen Hurts entered and contributed Tennessee’s third touchdown on a 27-yard pick-six to defensive lineman Kyle Phillips, but he immediately made up for the score by capping an 8-play, 70-yard drive with a 21-yard scoring jaunt.

No. 1 Alabama once again rolling over Tennessee

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Every game lasts 60 minutes, but most Alabama games effectively last five, maybe 10. The No. 1 Tide’s tilt with Tennessee appears headed that way through one half.

Alabama leads 42-14 at the break in Knoxville.

Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and, for the eighth time in eight tries, scored a touchdown on its opening possession. Tua Tagovailoa guided the Crimson Tide 58 yards in nine plays, including a 10-yard connection to Jaylen Waddle on a 3rd-and-10 from the Tennessee 35 and an 11-yard scoring toss to Jerry Jeudy.

And then came the knockout punch.

On a 3rd-and-10 from the Tennessee 25, Alabama’s Xavier McKinney sacked Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Christian Miller for the visitors at the Vols’ 3. Josh Jacobs punched it in for the score, putting the Tide up 14-0 at the 10:35 mark of the first quarter.

After the score, Alabama’s defense forced a three-and-out, and Tagovailoa hit Waddle for a 77-yard touchdown strike on the first snap of the ensuing possession.

After another Vols three-and-out, Alabama moved 93 yards in nine plays, gaining 46 yards on two completions to Jeudy and scoring on a 3-yard Damien Harris rush, pushing Alabama’s lead to 28-0 with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Tennessee regrouped in the second quarter, forcing two straight three-and-outs (a first for Alabama this season), then moving 75 yards in five plays to get on the board. Guarantano hit Josh Palmer for a 30-yard gain but was forced to leave the game after taking a hit. Keller Chryst entered and found Ty Chandler for consecutive gains of 26 and 10 yards, the latter putting Tennessee on the board at 28-7 with 7:21 to play in the first half.

Jeremy Pruitt called for an onside kick after the score, which Tennessee recovered… one yard before it was allowed to do so.

Alabama took over at the Tennessee 43 and capitalized with its fifth first half touchdown, a 2-yard Jacobs plunge that moved Alabama’s lead to 35-7 with 4:23 left in the first half.

But Chryst’s presence in the game continued to exploit a vulnerability in the Alabama secondary. Facing a 3rd-and-12 at his own 17, Chryst found Jauan Jennings for consecutive gains of 23 and 40 yards to move the ball to the Alabama 20. After an incompletion to Jennings, Chryst connected with Tyler Byrd for a 20-yard touchdown strike, pulling the Vols back within 21 with 2:18 left before the break.

Though Tennessee may have cracked the Alabama defense, the Tide’s offense remained unstoppable. Alabama needed 123 seconds to move 85 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 9-yard toss from Tagovailoa to Irv Smith, Jr.

The sophomore missed on an uncharacteristic 10 passes, wrapping the first half 15-of-25 for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Jacobs carried 11 carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns.

While Guarantano closed the half 5-of-10 for 63 yards, Chryst sliced the Tide to the tune of 119 yards and two touchdowns on 5-of-7 passing.

Alabama has out-rushed Tennessee 95 to minus-11.

The Vols will receive to open the second half.

Tua Tagovailoa among several starters to suffer injuries in No. 1 Alabama’s romp over Missouri

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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.

No. 1 Alabama still rolling on offense, leads Missouri heading to halftime

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It’s been a day full of upsets in the top 10 of the polls, could top-ranked Alabama also fall prey to a surprise upset? No, not at all.

Even with their star quarterback throwing more incompletions than he has in the past two weeks combined, the Crimson Tide jumped out to a 30-10 lead over visiting Missouri in what is well on its way to becoming yet another rout at Bryant Denny Stadium.

Tua Tagovailoa was a measly (by his standards) 12-of-20 in the first half for 265 yards and three touchdowns going to the locker room, continuing his assault on a number of school records in the process. Jalen Hurts actually saw action earlier than normal in the first quarter as he threw a pass for 11 yards and then wound up catching a pass for seven yards in another nod to his versatility when not running the second-team offense.

Damien Harris led the way in the backfield with 44 yards on the ground as the Tide racked up a robust 9.3 yards per play but only recorded three touchdowns in six trips to the red zone.

There were a few bright spots for the Tigers despite the lopsided score. Quarterback Drew Lock had all day to throw a 20 yard touchdown to Jalen Knox and finished with 110 yards and a pick in a game that NFL scouts will certainly be examining closely for the potential first rounder. Tyler Badie rushed for 38 yards but two turnovers for the offense overall and an inability to sustain drives kept this one from being more interesting than it should be.

To add to the issues facing head coach Barry Odom, linebacker Terez Hall, one of the team’s best defenders and a senior, was ejected for targeting in the second quarter.

There’s plenty for Nick Saban to nitpick in that first half overall but the bottom line remains the same: Alabama is good and does not appear to be threatened in this SEC test.

Alabama has now scored at least 45 points in all six wins this season

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There are offensive juggernauts, and then there’s what Alabama is doing to opposing defenses thus far this season.

Top-ranked Alabama jumped out to a 41-14 lead at the half earlier this afternoon and never looked back, Taking Arkansas to the woodshed in a 65-31 thumping of the overmatched Razorbacks in Fayetteville.  In a little over two quarters worth of work, Heisman Trophy frontrunner Tua Tagovailoa completed 10-of-13 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns — all of the yards and touchdowns came in the first half.  Damien Harris led all rushers with 111 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries.

The Week 6 blowout merely served as a continuation of an offensive run the likes of which have never before been seen in Tuscaloosa.  The Crimson Tide has now scored at last 45 points in every game this season; they’ve scored 50-plus in five of those games and 60-plus in two of them.

The carnage is as impressive as it is imposing to future opponents:

  • Week 1 — Alabama 51, Louisville 14
  • Week 2 — Alabama 57, Arkansas State 7
  • Week 3 — Alabama 62, Ole Miss 7
  • Week 4 — Alabama 45, Texas A&M 23
  • Week 5 — Alabama 56, Louisiana 14
  • Week 6 — Alabama 65, Arkansas 31

Add it all up, and Alabama has outscored its opponents 336-96, which works out to an average score of 57.2-16.

And it’s not just the points but the yards as well, as this note from the university’s sports information department shows:

Alabama’s 639 yards in total offense against Arkansas marks the sixth time the Crimson Tide has topped 500 yards this season and the 18th time in the last 50 games dating to the start of the 2015 campaign. This is Alabama’s first six-game run of 500-yard total offense performances in program history.

Next up on the “Slow Down ‘Bama?” tour is Missouri, which came into Week 6 tied for 76th in scoring defense at 26.8 points per game before giving up at least 34 to South Carolina this afternoon (that game is in a weather delay as of this posting).  After that it’s Tennessee (69th, 25.6 ppg) Oct. 20th before Alabama, coming off their in-season off weekend, heads to Death Valley for a huge showdown with LSU and its 12th-ranked scoring defense (15 ppg).