Tua Tagovailoa

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Alabama scores 21 unanswered for runaway Citrus Bowl victory over Michigan

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The first matchup between Jim Harbaugh and Nick Saban went the way of the Crimson Tide. After trailing by two at halftime, No. 13 Alabama (11-2) shut down No. 14 Michigan (9-4) in the second half of a 35-16 victory in the Citrus Bowl.

Mac Jones passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns in place of the injured Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovialoa was on the field with Alabama’s captains for the coin flip but will now address his immediate future with a decision on coming back to taking a shot at the NFL looms while injured.  Alabama’s running game was led by a brilliant effort by Najee Harris, who picked up two touchdowns and 136 yards against the Wolverines. Star wide receiver Jerry Jeudy also presented some highlights among his six catches for 204 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown on Alabama’s first offensive play from scrimmage in the first quarter.

Michigan’s Shea Patterson certainly had his struggles, completing 17 of 37 passes for 233 yards and a pair of interceptions (the second coming on the final play of the game, however). Patterson’s first interception came on the first play after Michigan took over around midfield midway through the fourth quarter, with Alabama leading 28-16. Alabama finished off the drive with a soul-crushing touchdown in the final minute of the game.

This is the 9th consecutive season Alabama has recorded 11 wins in a season. This was obviously not where Alabama wanted to end the season, but the Crimson Tide remain as strong a threat for the playoff as ever going into the new season. Saban improved his postseason bowl season record to 15-10, including a 12-5 mark with Alabama. Harbaugh has fallen to just 1-4 in bowl games since his arrival in Ann Arbor, which will surely not help to turn back any narratives heading into next season.

Michigan and Alabama will each begin the 2020 season against an opponent from the Pac-12. Michigan will play a true road game when they head to Seattle to face the Washington Huskies on Sept. 5. On the same day, Alabama will take on USC in Arlington, TX.

How much does Tua Tagovailoa’s injury actually impact Alabama and the College Football Playoff? Not as much as you’d think

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Since the moment Tua Tagovailoa went down with a season-ending injury on Saturday, the focus of the bigger College Football Playoff picture has been hotly debated. Should Alabama be given the benefit of the doubt? Would Alabama with one loss and no SEC title and no Tua be more deserving of a playoff shot over a one-loss Pac-12 champion? How does a potential 1-loss Alabama compare to some other 1-loss teams in the country right now, including Oregon, Utah, Oklahoma, Penn State and, of course, Georgia?

We are in the time of the season when hypothetical scenarios are the most fun to rationally discuss debate with great intensity explore for the fun of it, and this new Alabama situation is a wrinkle we haven’t exactly seen since the inaugural College Football Playoff with Ohio State. As it turns out, Ohio State is the prime example Alabama fans and defenders will point to as one of their top arguments. Of course, 2014 Ohio State and 2019 Alabama are still very different situations.

In 2014, Ohio State lost starting quarterback Braxton Miller to an early season-ending injury but managed to get through the regular season with just one early loss with J.T. Barrett stepping in to guide the Buckeyes offense. But Barrett was injured in the regular-season finale and Cardale Jones had to keep things rolling. Ohio State demolished Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten championship game and convinced the College Football Playoff selection committee they were still worthy of a playoff bid over a pair of 1-loss Big 12 champions (Baylor and TCU) even with their injury concerns at quarterback. This precedent would seem to favor Alabama. Although the Tide may not be as deep at quarterback as Ohio State certainly was, there is an embarrassing amount of riches around the rest of the roster thanks to top recruiting class after top recruiting class being signed by Nick Saban.

There is just one major problem for Alabama. They aren’t likely to get a shot at playing for the SEC championship and prove their case one final time. LSU would have to lose its final two games in order to open the door to the SEC Championship Game for Alabama, and that assumes Alabama wins at Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Alabama (and Ohio State) have made the playoff without winning their divisions before, but this year’s field could be a bit too crowded to allow for that possibility to happen again.

Alabama is in the toughest spot it has been in during the College Football Playoff era. The only team to play in each College Football Playoff, Alabama still has a shot at playing in the playoff once again. At least one team currently ranked ahead of them is going to lose. If it’s Georgia and Alabama stands firm on its ranking, that could see Alabama slide into the fourth spot. But if the season ends with undefeated champions in the ACC (Clemson), Big Ten (Ohio State) and SEC (LSU) and 1-loss champions in the Pac-12 (Oregon or Utah) and Big 12 (Oklahoma or Baylor), how exactly would Alabama compare with no more than one top 25 win? With or without Tua, Alabama should be in some danger of being left out of the playoff for the first time.

And that doesn’t even account for the scenarios that see Penn State beat Ohio State and both the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes end the year with one loss. In that case, Ohio State would still be more worthy of a top-four spot than Alabama, and they may not even make it under these conditions. And if Georgia beats LSU in the SEC title game and both teams end the year with one loss, they’d each get in the playoff before Alabama.

Simply put, Alabama’s playoff odds are probably not as drastically impacted by Tagovailoa’s injury as it is being presented. Alabama would still probably need some help no matter if Tagovailoa or Joe Namath was playing quarterback. It may not be too much help that is needed, but some help would absolutely be welcome in Tuscaloosa.

On Tuesday night, however, we’ll get our first taste of just how this injury to Tagovailoa impacts Alabama in the playoff race. The selection committee will release its third set of rankings this season and determine just where Alabama sits in the pack. Alabama fell to No. 5 after their loss to LSU, firmly keeping the Tide in the hunt. They still managed to control their game against Mississippi State this weekend, but other contenders had good performances as well (see: Oregon, Utah, Oklahoma). Alabama is also still lacking a top 25 win the way a few other 1-loss teams now own (see: Oklahoma, Penn State, Minnesota).

How will the committee react? We’re about to find out Tuesday night.

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.

Tua Tagovailoa breaks Alabama school record for career touchdowns

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Move over AJ McCarron, because there is a new all-time leader sitting on top of the Alabama school records. Tua Tagovailoa set a new record for career touchdowns with his 81st career touchdown. It came on a seven-yard run that gave Alabama a lead on Ole Miss.

Touchdowns responsible for includes rushing touchdowns, passing touchdowns and touchdown receptions (as well as special teams and defensive scores, although Tagovailoa doesn’t have any of those). McCarron set the Alabama record of 80 between 2009 and 2013. Tagovailoa came into this week with 17 passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. In the first half against Ole Miss, Tagovailoa accounted for four touchdowns through the air and one more on the ground to bring his career total up to 84 career touchdowns responsible for. And we’re not even in October yet.

The game has evolved to rack up the stats for top quarterbacks, but Tagovailoa may be putting together quite a record at Alabama that will be difficult to match.

In other Alabama school records being broken news, wide receiver Devonta Smith has broken the single-game touchdown record with four touchdown receptions. the previous record was three.