5 bold predictions for Alabama vs. New Mexico State Aggies
There are a lot of things that could happen Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
There could be several heatstroke-related incidents in the stands, what with it being an afternoon game in Alabama in September.
There could be a sighting of every Crimson Tide player dressed out for the game actually on the field.
There could be 100 points scored.
But what will not happen is this: Alabama will not lose.
Saturday is dunking on a preschooler on a 7-foot rim. Saturday is the dealer giving himself 20 seven consecutive times when you’re down in Vegas. Saturday is the sun rising in the East.
Saturday is a lock for Alabama.
That said, there are still 5 bold predictions out there in every game. And we wouldn’t be doing our public service here at Saturday Down South if we weren’t bringing them to you. Just know … 1 of them doesn’t involve the Aggies winning. Alabama has bet $1.8 million on that not happening.
Away we go!
1. Tua Tagovailoa plays precisely 30 minutes
Yeah, we know … we basically predicted this last week when Duke was on the other sideline. But then the combination of the Blue Devils stunting on defense like crazy and the Crimson Tide deciding to spot Duke an entire quarter changed the dynamic of things. But this is different. Like we said, Alabama is a lock. New Mexico State gave up 58 points and 618 yards of total offense to Washington State. Not only that, but 507 of those yards came in the air — as Wazzu starter Anthony Gordon went 29-for-35 for 420 yards and 5 TDs.
Alabama’s sweet Hawaiian prince racked up similar numbers against a better Duke defense in 3 quarters last week. Should the Aggies try to stack the box to stop the Crimson Tide’s run game like Duke did and, well, watch Tagovailoa carve it up for the 1st half with abandon before draping the towel over his head to watch Mac Jones.
2. Alabama will cover the 55-point spread
Our dear friends in the desert had quite the comedown last week when Alabama — despite missing 2 field goals — covered the 33.5-point nonconference spread for the first time in forever. OK, the sharps said, we’ll show those Crimson Tide bettors who don’t even think before they throw down money on their team!
Problem is, and we will say it again, New Mexico State is bad. Like, crazy bad. Two touchdowns and a field goal per quarter is 68 points. You telling me Alabama will actually have to punt at any point? No, 63-3 is a very real score prediction that covers the spread with a Will Reichard miss to spare.
3. Taulia Tagovailoa will throw his 1st career TD pass
Because we have established that Tua Tagovailoa will go ape for the game’s first 30 minutes, and you know Mac Jones will get some quality 3rd-quarter reps before Alabama coaches start consulting their depth charts to see who the 4th- and 5th-teamers are to get some PT, that means that the plan at QB is for Alabama’s baby sweet Hawaiian prince will likely see some more action as well. Taulia Tagovailoa was in late against Duke, and the Tide scored on his first play — a 37-yard Jerome Ford TD run.
Figure Taulia might get the better part of the 4th quarter, and do what we saw AJ McCarron do when he was a freshman — chuck it into the end zone for a TD late in a blowout to drive the remaining non-heatstroked fans wild.
4. Nick Saban will be angry about the crowd
Because you can almost set your watch to these kinds of things, and we did last week when we all-but-predicted a Saban rant like the one directed at a poor side judge, you can bank on this … Saban will be hacked off after the game about the Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd.
Maybe it will be directed at the student section, which for nonconference cupcakes like this typically is about 3/4 full at kickoff anyway. Factor in the 138-degree heat index expected at kickoff and a solid 5,000 coeds and their dates will say “the heck with this” and head for Gallettes and 2-for-1 Yellowhammers before the game even starts. Maybe it will be at the moneyed bunch between the goal lines that figure the Aflac they bought from Saban’s commercial won’t pay for heatstroke and head for their cars early.
Either way, Bryant-Denny will be less than full and way too quiet for Saban’s liking, and we will definitely hear about it after the game.
5. The Tide defense/special teams will score TD
Non-offensive touchdowns were quite the thing for the Alabama defense/special teams in 2016 when the unit led by Marlon Humphrey, Eddie Jackson and Minkah Fitzpatrick scored 15 TDs on their own. Alabama had its chances last week against Duke, but couldn’t convert 2 interceptions of Quentin Harris into meaningful returns. The punt return game was also unexpectedly silent, as the Tide fair-caught all 6 Blue Devil punts. That won’t happen this week, as New Mexico State will probably punt 10 times and turn it over 3 times. With 13 chances at a non-offensive TD, you just know 1 will happen.