Jaylen Waddle

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Tua Tagovailoa sets Alabama all-time pass TD record as No. 1 Crimson Tide handles No. 24 Texas A&M

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Any thought about No. 25 Texas A&M (3-3, 1-2 SEC) scoring a big upset at home against No. 1 Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC) was quickly washed away by another dominant effort by the best team in the country. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns and rushed for one more in a record-setting day for the Heisman Trophy hopeful as Alabama left Kyle Field in College Station with a 47-28 victory.

Tagovailoa became Alabama’s all-time touchdown pass leader with his first touchdown pass of the day, a 31-yard pass to Jaylen Waddle on Alabama’s first offensive series of the game. That touchdown tied the game, and Tagovailoa’s second touchdown gave Alabama the lead for good. The Crimson Tide never trailed after going up 14-7 and the closest Texas A&M would get the rest fo the game was on the ensuing possession. The Aggies cut the lead to 14-10 with a field goal, and the Crimson Tide scored the next 33 of 43 points to run away with the game.

Next up on Tagovailoa’s list of accomplishments at Alabama? All-time passing yards.

In the box score, Texas A&M actually hung with Alabama in terms of overall offensive yardage, but Tagovailoa had a batch of receivers to help him have a much more efficiently productive output compared to Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond. Devonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III, and Najee Harris all caught touchdown passes for Alabama, in addition to the previously mentioned Waddle. Jalen Wydermyer was the only Aggie to catch a touchdown pass (he actually caught two in the game). Devonta Smith was tossed from the game late in the fourth quarter for throwing a punch at a Texas A&M player at the end of the play. No penalty was assessed to Texas A&M despite Smith’s punch being in retaliation to a punch thrown at him. Expect the SEC office to review that situation.

Harris also rushed for over 100 yards for the Tide. Mond was the leading rusher for Texas A&M. It was another reminder of just how much talent and skill Alabama has accumulated over years of recruiting and a reminder of where Texas A&M hopes to be one day under head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban remains undefeated against his former assistants. Saban improved to 18-0 all-time against head coaches that previously worked on his staff. Fisher is now 0-3 against Saban, including one matchup while Fisher was the head coach at Florida State. Fisher has now lost to Alabama in his first two games as head coach of the Aggies. Since Johnny Manziel stunned the Crimson Tide in the first meeting as SEC West opponents in 2012, the Aggies have lost to the Crimson Tide in seven straight meetings.

Alabama will return home next weekend to face traditional rival Tennessee. The Vols picked up a win in SEC play with a victory over Mississippi State earlier in the day but will be a heavy underdog in Tuscaloosa next week. Alabama has won 12 straight games in the series dating back to 2007. This should be the seventh time in that span Alabama will be the top-ranked team in the matchup, and the 12th time in 13 games Tennessee will not be ranked in the top 25.

Texas A&M, now 1-2 in SEC play with losses at home to Auburn and Alabama, will get a chance to regroup in the next couple of weeks. First up is a road game at Ole Miss next Saturday. The Aggies have won the last two meetings with the Rebels, including last season’s 38-24 victory in Oxford.

Three touchdowns from Tua Tagovailoa have Alabama leading Texas A&M 24-13

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There was no doubt Texas A&M was fired up for their home game against top-ranked Alabama, but an early touchdown by the Aggies was not nearly enough to knock Alabama off its game. Alabama leads the Aggies 24-13 at halftime in Kyle Field.

Kellen Mond punched the ball in from the one-yard line at the end of a 15-play drive to start the game, giving Texas A&M and their fans an early adrenaline run, but it was short-lived. Alabama then did what they do best and that meant making key plays with their superior talent advantage. Alabama was thriving on third-down plays in the first half too.

Alabama’s first three touchdowns of the game all came on third-and-long situations. Jaylen Waddle scored on a 31-yard pass from Tua Tagovailoa on 3rd & 7 to the tie game at 7-7. Devonta Smith scored on a  47-yard pass on 3rd & 10 on Alabama’s next drive. Najee Harris did the honors on a 16-yard pass from Tagovailoa on a 3rd & 7 on Alabama’s third possession, putting Alabama up 24-10.

Tagovailoa did make a mistake late in the half with an interception in the endzone (by Demani Richardson). It was the first interception thrown this season by Tagovailoa (after 26 touchdown passes had been thrown).

Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle headed to the locker room shortly before halftime. There was no update on his status.

No. 2 Alabama too much for South Carolina

Associated Press
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The good news for South Carolina is that it landed several punches against Alabama and the game was much more competitive than the final score indicated. The bad news for the SEC? A “close” win still amounted to a 31-point win Tua Tagovailoa threw for 444 yards and five touchdowns to led the No. 2 Crimson Tide to a 47-23 victory over a game South Carolina squad.

Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) accepted the ball to open the game and sliced 65 yards in five plays, scoring on a 24-yard Tua toss to running back Najee Harris, and at that point it seemed the route was on.

South Carolina (1-2, 0-1 SEC), however, did not agree. The Gamecocks pieced together a 14-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a 44-yard Parker White field goal. Then South Carolina’s defense simply swallowed Alabama’s offense on its next possession, sacking Tagovailoa on first and third down. Skyler DeLong‘s punt went just 14 yards, handing South Carolina the ball and a golden opportunity to take the lead at Alabama’s 30.

The Tide defense forced its own three-and-out but, rather than try a 51-yard field goal, Will Muschamp called a beautiful fake field goal that went for a White touchdown, but the score was wiped off the board due to holding and the Gamecocks punted.

Alabama punished that mistake three plays later, when Tua hit Henry Ruggs III for an 81-yard touchdown to give the Crimson Tide a 14-3 lead at the 3:15 mark of the first quarter.

Once again knocked to the mat, South Carolina answered. This time, the Gamecocks went 75 yards in six snaps, scoring on a 31-yard toss from Ryan Hilinski to Shi Smith.

The first quarter ended with the quarterbacks going 17-of-24 for 273 yards and three touchdowns and the teams rushing for 28 combined yards.

South Carolina limited another Alabama drive to a field goal to open the second quarter, but then committed another crucial special teams mistake. This time, an illegal shift penalty negated a punt that was downed at the 1-yard line; on the second attempt, Joseph Charlton booted it 55 yards to the 17, which Jaylen Waddle returned 18 yards to the 35, turning a 5-yard mark off into a 34-yard penalty.

The Gamecocks forced Alabama into a 4th-and-3 at its own 42, when Tua tossed it to Najee Harris and the former 5-star did the rest, shucking one tackler and hurdling another for a highlight reel touchdown.

Alabama forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession and then South Carolina committed its third special teams disaster of the first half. Sensing the game slipping away from him, Muschamp called a fake punt from his own 30, but the Tide’s coverage unit was not fooled at all and Alabama took over at the South Carolina 32.

This time, however, Alabama paid back the Gamecocks with a special teams miscue of its own — a 37-yard field goal that Will Reichard pushed wide left.

Needing a drive to remain in the game, South Carolina got one, moving .. On first-and-goal from the 4, Rico Dowdle dove into the end zone but was ruled down at the 1. However, replays showed Dowdle perhaps got into the end zone before his thigh hit the ground, but the play was not reviewed. Hilinski’s second down pass was incomplete, and he fumbled the third down snap for a loss of two. Rather than kick a field goal, Muschamp elected to go for a fourth down on the final play of the half and Hilinski’s pass was incomplete and the Gamecocks came up empty.

South Carolina took the ball to open the second half and went 71 yards to get a 28-yard White field goal, meaning the Gamecocks compiled back-to-back drives totaling 24 plays, 148 yards… and three points.

Alabama finally separated for good when Tua found Devonta Smith on an RPO slant route for a 42-yard touchdown, putting the visitors up 31-13 with 9:52 to play in the third quarter. Tagovailoa ended his day at the 13:41 mark of the fourth quarter when he hit Smith for his 28th completion and his fifth touchdown of the day. Mac Jones capped the Tide scoring with a 1-yard keeper with 2:04 remaining.

Hilinski played courageously in his first start, completing 36-of-57 passes for 324 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, including an 11-yard toss to Kyle Markway with 11 seconds left in the game.

Trio of Tua TD tosses puts Alabama up on South Carolina at the half

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South Carolina has landed several punches on No. 2 Alabama through one half. Unfortunately for a game ‘Cocks crew, several of those punches have missed the Tide and landed squarely on their own face, and as a result Alabama leads 24-10 at the half in Columbia.

Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and sliced 65 yards in five plays, scoring on a 24-yard Tua Tagovailoa toss to running back Najee Harris, and at that point it seemed the route was on.

South Carolina, however, did not agree. The Gamecocks pieced together a 14-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a 44-yard Parker White field goal. Then South Carolina’s defense simply swallowed Alabama’s offense on its next possession, sacking Tagovailoa on first and third down. Skyler DeLong‘s punt went just 14 yards, handing South Carolina the ball and a golden opportunity to take the lead at Alabama’s 30.

The Tide defense forced its own three-and-out but, rather than try a 51-yard field goal, Will Muschamp called a beautiful fake field goal that went for a White touchdown, but the score was wiped off the board due to holding and the Gamecocks punted.

Alabama punished that mistake three plays later, when Tua hit Henry Ruggs III for an 81-yard touchdown to give the Crimson Tide a 14-3 lead at the 3:15 mark of the first quarter.

Once again knocked to the mat, South Carolina answered. This time, the Gamecocks went 75 yards in six snaps, scoring on a 31-yard toss from Ryan Hilinski (making his first career start) to Shi Smith.

The first quarter ended with the quarterbacks going 17-of-24 for 273 yards and three touchdowns and the teams rushing for 28 combined yards.

South Carolina limited another Alabama drive to a field goal to open the second quarter, but then committed another crucial special teams mistake. This time, an illegal shift penalty negated a punt that was downed at the 1-yard line; on the second attempt, Joseph Charlton booted it 55 yards to the 17, which Jaylen Waddle returned 18 yards to the 35, turning a 5-yard mark off into a 34-yard penalty.

The Gamecocks forced Alabama into a 4th-and-3 at its own 42, when Tua tossed it to Najee Harris and the former 5-star did the rest, shucking one tackler and hurdling another for a highlight reel touchdown.

Alabama forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession and then South Carolina committed its third special teams disaster of the first half. Sensing the game slipping away from him, Muschamp called a fake punt from his own 30, but the Tide’s coverage unit was not fooled at all and Alabama took over at the South Carolina 32.

This time, however, Alabama paid back the Gamecocks with a special teams miscue of its own — a 37-yard field goal that Will Reichard pushed wide left.

Needing a drive to remain in the game, South Carolina got one, moving .. On first-and-goal from the 4, Rico Dowdle dove into the end zone but was ruled down at the 1. However, replays showed Dowdle perhaps got into the end zone before his thigh hit the ground, but the play was not reviewed. Hilinski’s second down pass was incomplete, and he fumbled the third down snap for a loss of two. Rather than kick a field goal, Muschamp elected to go for a fourth down on the final play of the half and Hilinski’s pass was incomplete and the Gamecocks came up empty.

Tagovailoa closed the half 16-of-22 for 286 yards and three touchdowns, while Hilinski was 18-of-28 for 175 yards and a score. South Carolina leads the rushing battle, 27-26.

No. 2 Alabama extends streak of perfect neutral site openers by throttling Duke in Atlanta

Associated Press
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A year ago Alabama used a blitzkrieg attack to knock opponents out before the game even started. The Crimson Tide averaged an FBS-best 15.5 points in the first quarter, scoring at least one opening frame touchdown in all 15 games.

So far in 2019, they’re 0-for-1.

Alabama’s first three possessions ended in a three-and-out, a fumble and a missed field goal, but the end result was the same. The No. 2 Crimson Tide steamrolled a completely overmatched Duke team, 42-3 in Atlanta.

Tua Tagovailoa was his predictably brilliant self, hitting 26-of-31 passes for 336 yards and four touchdowns before he was pulled in the third quarter. Biletnikoff award winner Jerry Jeudy made a great opening case to join Michael Crabtree and Justin Blackmon as the award’s only two-time winners by catching 10 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, while Jaylen Waddle added five grabs for 90 yards.

The Tide’s defense, retooled due to early entrants and key injuries, dominated Duke’s offense. Blue Devils quarterback Quentin Harris was 12-of-22 for 97 yards with two interceptions, and Duke rushed for just 107 yards on 3.3 yards a carry,.

If there was a weak spot for Alabama, it was its own running game. The Crimson Tide managed only 3.5 yards per carry on 42 rushes.

Alabama more or less invented the modern day neutral site opener; their 34-10 steamrolling of No. 9 Clemson in the inaugural Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game back in 2008 served as the unofficial beginning of the ongoing Nick Saban dynasty. Alabama has returned to Atlanta five times since, they’ve played in Dallas three times, trekked to Orlando once. Alabama is also scheduled to play USC in Dallas again in 2020, and they’ll return to Atlanta to play Miami in 2021, but after that they’re done. Starting with a trip to Texas in 2022, Alabama will return to playing home-and-homes with major non-conference opponents, and for good reason. These games stopped being interesting years ago.

Alabama moved to a perfect 10-0 in neutral site openers. Judging by the $20 tickets that could be had up until kickoff, the Alabama fan base has had its fill of Atlanta and Dallas in September and they’re ready for a new challenge.

The rest of us are, too.