• Whether Nick Saban likes to hear it or not, Alabama has been scary good with Tua Tagovailoa at the helm. Just look at the numbers the Crimson Tide put up in their toughest test yet.
By Ross Dellenger
September 22, 2018

Nick Saban has a team that can outscore you, whoever you are. Run and hide, college football. Run and hide.

Alabama steamrolled another opponent on Saturday, for the second straight week torching an SEC West foe, this one led by a former Nick Saban assistant who has won a national championship and signed a contract worth $75 million. Texas A&M hung around until midway through the second quarter, longer than any other team has fared against the 2018 Crimson Tide, but the end result was the same: a 45–23 Alabama win that was never closer than three possessions after halftime.

Even when the Crimson Tide defense didn’t play like we’re all accustomed to—Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond caused problems with his legs, finishing with 98 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground—the offense kept on scoring until starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was replaced by Jalen Hurts in the second half.

The numbers in Alabama’s first four games should scare any defensive coordinator. There are the points scored: 51, 57, 62, 45. There are the yards gained: 519, 599, 516, 524. And then there’s Tagovailoa. The sophomore gunslinger set a career high with 387 passing yards on Saturday, completed 22 of 30 attempts and threw four touchdowns to zero interceptions. When Tagovailoa is in the game—he hasn’t seen much of the second half this season—the Tide roll.

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Tagovailoa has led 32 drives. They’ve ended in the following results: 20 touchdowns, six punts, two field goals, two turnovers, one missed field goal, and one first half expiration. Those drives have gained 1,502 yards on 161 plays, a 9.32-yard average. With his team’s traditionally weaker unit looking stronger than ever, Saban took a few minutes of his postgame press conference to revisit one of his most memorable quotes from last year, addressing the “rat poison” that he considers the media’s gushing over his team.

Alabama is so dominant that CBS color analyst Gary Danielson was surprised that with 5:33 left in the third quarter, Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher elected to kick a field goal down by 22 instead of going for it on fourth down. Tagovailoa saw A&M’s three points and drove his offense for six two drives later to extend Alabama’s lead to 45–16. Then he didn’t play again, sitting the entire fourth quarter.

So, if this is Saban’s best Alabama team, is it the best he’s ever had? Not yet. In fact, CBS broadcasters say that Fisher and Saban, in interviews earlier this week, both compared the 2018 Crimson Tide to the 2003 LSU team that won the national title, with Fisher coordinating the offense for that team under Saban. Matt Mauck quarterbacked an explosive unit with receivers like Michael Clayton, Devery Henderson and Skyler Green and backs Justin Vincent and Joseph Addai. That team lost a game, 19–7 to Florida.

Will this one lose at some point in the next two months? Who can say, but this much is certain: A Tagovailoa-led Alabama will never be held to seven points.

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