Associated Press

Tua remains flawless as No. 1 Alabama slays No. 22 Texas A&M

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No. 1 Alabama and its Heisman candidate quarterback Tua Tagovailoa cruised through their first three games, but Saturday was supposed to be different. No. 22 Texas A&M was coming to Tuscaloosa, and for the first time this season, the defending national champions would face a team that would match them athlete for athlete, coach for coach, and dollar for dollar.

Or so we thought.

Texas A&M threw its best bunch at college football’s crimson bully, but in the end Alabama accepted that blow and landed a torrent of haymakers back, cruising to a 45-23 win that wasn’t as close as the final score.

The game opened with a quick interception by Alabama’s Mack Wilson and an even quicker touchdown pass, as Devonta Smith hauled in a 30-yard score one play later to give the Tide a lead just 50 seconds into the game.

The next sequence was the best for Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1 SEC): after Alabama downed a punt at the Texas A&M 1, the Aggies marched the length of the field to tie the game. The key play on a 54-yard quarterback draw by Kellen Mond, then a 15-yard strike to tight end Jace Sternberger. It was the first 99-yard drive surrendered by Alabama since Houston did it in 1997.

But, in typical Alabama (4-0, 2-0 SEC) fashion, the euphoria of legitimately challenging the Tide was short lived. Tagovailoa moved the Tide 75 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 1-yard keeper, to give Alabama a lead it would not relinquish.

Seth Small put the Aggies within 14-10 at the 8:50 mark of the second quarter, but Alabama put the game away with 17 points over the final half of the second frame: a 23-yard strike to Hale Henteges, a 6-yard toss to Henteges and a 47-yard Joseph Bulovas field goal to stake Alabama to a 31-13 lead.

Josh Jacobs scored on a 3-yard rush to push the lead to 38-13, and Henry Ruggs III took a ball 57 yards to the house to add the capper at the 2:01 mark of the third quarter.

Trayveon Williams added the final score of the day, a 1-yard rush, with 12:55 to play in the game.

Tagovailoa added to his Heisman resume with perhaps his best game yet: 22-of-30 for 387 yards and four touchdowns while adding another on the ground. Damien Harris and Najee Harris combined to run 15 times for 95 yards.

On the other end, Mond endured a number of sacks to still rush for a game-high 98 yards while throwing for 196 more, but the bulk of those were in garbage time, and two interceptions were backbreakers for the Aggies.

The win moved Nick Saban to 13-0 against his former assistants, though Jimbo Fisher‘s 22-point loss was ahead of Saban’s average margin of victory of 27 points.

Texas A&M making Alabama work, but Tide still in control at the half

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It started like any typical Alabama game. A Tide interception and a quick Tide touchdown, a one-play strike from Tua Tagovailoa to Devonta Smith from 30 yards out. But on Texas A&M’s third drive of the game, Alabama learned this wasn’t going to be like any opponent.

After taking over after a punt at its own 1-yard line, Texas A&M registered the first 99-yard drive by an Alabama opponent since Houston did so way back in 1997. The key play came on a 2nd-and-5 from their own own 31, when Kellen Mond took off on a draw and raced for a 54-yard gain. Two plays later, Mond hit tight end Jace Sternberger for a 15-yard touchdown. Tie game.

This is still Alabama, though. The Tide moved 75 yards in nine plays, and a 1-yard Tua keeper gave Alabama the lead again, and at the half the Crimson Tide leads, 31-13.

Tagovailoa has dazzled again, nailing 17-of-20 passes for 239 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

But Mond has held his own on the other end, rushing 12 times for a game-high 112 yards while throwing for 55 more. But two interceptions halted the Aggies’ momentum.

Trayveon Williams has rushed seven times for 30 yards, more than any Tide player. Alabama has collectively rushed just 12 times for 41 yards.

Alabama will receive to open the second half.

Ole Miss strikes first, but No. 1 Alabama buries Rebels in Oxford

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From the very first snap, Ole Miss showed this wasn’t going to be like other games No. 1 Alabama plays. Behind its strong-armed Hawaiian quarterback, these Rebels were going to hit the Tide’s inexperienced secondary right in the mouth, as Jordan Ta’amu found D.K. Metcalf for a 75-yard touchdown grab.

And right from its very first snap, Alabama showed Ole Miss that this wasn’t other Alabama teams. These Crimson Tide have their own big-armed quarterback from the islands, and they can deliver haymakers with the best of them.

Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) needed only three plays to tie the game, a 43-yard Damien Harris rumble. And then, after a pair of Ole Miss (2-1, 0-1 SEC) three-and-outs and an Alabama fumble, Tua Tagovailoa had his equalizer, a 79-yard scoring strike to Jerry Jeudy, and the Tide were off to the races. After a 10-yard Najee Harris run and a 12-yard pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Irv Smith, Alabama had a 28-7 lead by the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.

The Tide expanded on that 28-7 first quarter lead into a 49-7 halftime edge and a 62-7 final.

While Alabama’s offense was obviously the story of the half, Ole Miss’s unit failed to keep them in the game after the opening score. The Rebels went three-and-out after Alabama’s first score, then did the same upon taking over at the Alabama 47 after a Henry Ruggs III fumble. Trailing 14-7, Ole Miss again moved to the Alabama 47 when Ta’amu fumbled away what would have been a 3rd and 1 situation. The Rebels’ next possession, trailing 21-7, Ta’amu threw an interception that Deionte Thompson returned to the Rebels’ 15 and the game was all but over.

In the second quarter, Alabama scored on a 4-yard Josh Jacobs run, a 22-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to Jeudy and a 13-yard pass from Hurts to Ruggs.

All told, the Tide rolled up 418 yards of total offense and 20 first downs on 41 first half snaps. Tagovailoa hit 11-of-15 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns, while Hurts was 7-of-10 for 85 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Nine Alabama players combined to carry 44 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns.

Ta’amu, meanwhile, after starting 1-of-1 for 75 yards and a touchdown, finished 6-of-21 for 58 yards with two interceptions.

Alabama running away from Ole Miss

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From the very first snap, Ole Miss showed this wasn’t going to be like other games No. 1 Alabama plays. Behind its strong-armed Hawaiian quarterback, these Rebels were going to hit the Tide’s inexperienced secondary right in the mouth, as Jordan Ta’amu found D.K. Metcalf for a 75-yard touchdown grab.

And right from its very first snap, Alabama showed Ole Miss that this wasn’t other Alabama teams. These Crimson Tide have their own big-armed quarterback from the islands, and they can deliver haymakers with the best of them.

Alabama needed only three plays to tie the game, a 43-yard Damien Harris rumble. And then, after a pair of Ole Miss three-and-outs and an Alabama fumble, Tua Tagovailoa had his equalizer, a 79-yard scoring strike to Jerry Jeudy, and the Tide were off to the races. After a 10-yard Najee Harris run and a 12-yard pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Irv Smith, Alabama had a 28-7 lead by the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.

The Tide tacked on tree more scores in the second quarter to take a 49-7 lead into the locker room.

While Alabama’s offense was obviously the story of the half, Ole Miss’s unit failed to keep them in the game after the opening score. The Rebels went three-and-out after Alabama’s first score, then did the same upon taking over at the Alabama 47 after a Henry Ruggs III fumble. Trailing 14-7, Ole Miss again moved to the Alabama 47 when Ta’amu fumbled away what would have been a 3rd and 1 situation. The Rebels’ next possession, trailing 21-7, Ta’amu threw an interception that Deionte Thompson returned to the Rebels’ 15 and the game was all but over.

In the second quarter, Alabama scored on a 4-yard Josh Jacobs run, a 22-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to Jeudy and a 13-yard pass from Hurts to Ruggs.

All told, the Tide rolled up 418 yards of total offense and 20 first downs on 41 snaps. Tide passers were 16-of-21 for 248 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, while Alabama runners carried 20 times for 170 yards and three touchdowns.

As if that isn’t enough, Alabama will receive to open the second half.

West Virginia’s Will Grier, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins make sizable move upwards in Bovada’s updated Heisman odds

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It’s still more than three months until the famed stiff-armed trophy is handed out, but it’s never too early to get a wagering slant on the most prestigious piece of hardware in college football.

With Week 1 of the 2018 season wrapped up and put to bed, Bovada.lv released its updated odds Wednesday on who will claim this year’s Heisman Trophy.  Prior to the start of the new season, Stanford running back Bryce Love was the favorite at 13/2; the new favorite at 4/1, up from 15/2 late last month, is Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.  Love’s odds, meanwhile, dipped to 12/1.

A trio of quarterbacks, on the other hand, saw their odds shorten significantly.  West Virginia’s Will Grier and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins both began the season at 11/1; the former now sits at 5/1, the latter at 6/1.  UCF’s McKenzie Milton made an even bigger move, going from 35/1 prior to the start of the season to 11/1 after Week 1.

The running back with the best odds is Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor at 10/1, down slightly from 17/2.

Houston’s Ed Oliver has the best odds for a player on the defensive side of the ball at 90/1, up a bit from the 100/1 at which he started the year.  Ohio State’s Nick Bosa is the only other defensive player listed, and he’s at 200/1.  Bosa was at 125/1 a week ago.

Milton is the only player from a Group of Five conference to be listed as Temple quarterback Frank Nutil is now off the board.

Below are the complete set of updated odds from Bovada.lv, with their numbers on Aug. 30 listed first followed by the new odds.

Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama) 15/2 4/1
Will Grier (QB West Virginia) 11/1 5/1
Dwayne Haskins (QB Ohio State) 11/1 6/1
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State) 12/1 9/1
Jonathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin) 17/2 10/1
McKenzie Milton (QB UCF) 35/1 11/1
Bryce Love (RB Stanford) 13/2 12/1
Kyler Murray (QB Oklahoma) 20/1 18/1
Justin Herbert (QB Oregon) 30/1 22/1
Jake Fromm (QB Georgia) 15/1 25/1
D’Andre Swift (RB Georgia) 40/1 25/1
Khalil Tate (QB Arizona) 12/1 25/1
Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn) 25/1 30/1
Brandon Winbush (QB Notre Dame) 50/1 30/1
Drew Lock (QB Missouri) 45/1 35/1
Damien Harris (RB Alabama) 55/1 40/1
Trevor Lawrence (QB Clemson) 16/1 40/1
Jake Browning (QB Washington) 25/1 50/1
AJ Dillon (RB Boston College) 80/1 50/1
J.K. Dobbins (RB Ohio State) 40/1 50/1
Justice Hill (RB Oklahoma State) 125/1 60/1
Shea Patterson (QB Michigan) 20/1 65/1
Cam Akers (RB Florida State) 60/1 85/1
Deondre Francois (QB Florida State) 60/1 85/1
Ed Oliver (DL Houston) 100/1 90/1
Kelly Bryant (QB Clemson) 50/1 100/1
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State) 50/1 100/1
Travis Etienne (RB Clemson) 80/1 100/1
David Sills (WR West Virginia) 225/1 100/1
Stephen Carr (RB USC) 200/1 175/1
Nick Bosa (DL Ohio State) 125/1 200/1
Sam Ehlinger (QB Texas) 35/1 200/1
Ryan Finley (QB NC State) 200/1 225/1
Frank Nutil (QB Temple) 200/1 Off the Board