Alabama football: How does anybody beat this Tide team?
OXFORD, Miss. — Alabama walked into Ole Miss’ house, ate everything in the fridge, drank directly out of the milk carton and put their feet all over the Rebels coffee table as if they owned the place.
For a night, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium was silent as fans donning powder blue watched their favorite team get humbled up and down Jerry Hollingsworth Field for 60 minutes in a 62-7 skull-bashing late Saturday night.
Things were so out of hand that some Alabama players began taking turns doing Ole Miss’ “Landshark” celebration. It got so bad that ESPN eventually moved the contest to ESPNews to spare viewers of the ongoing bloodbath.
Ole Miss’ quick strike to open the game only upset Alabama as the Crimson Tide ran off 62 straight points in their crisp road white uniforms. Even Nick Saban, who is often a curmudgeon after blowout wins, couldn’t find much to complain about postgame.
“I was pleased, but we’ve got 24 hours to enjoy this,” Saban said. “We’ve got another big game (against Texas A&M) next week.”
Since we’re still within Saban’s 24-hour period, let’s try to make sense of this massacre.
How do you beat this Alabama team?
Seriously, it’s like someone finally told Saban that his team could stop the other teams from scoring and score on every offensive possession. Ole Miss was supposed to be a test for the Crimson Tide’s defense, but the lie detector test determined that was a lie.
The Rebels scored 11 seconds into the contest and didn’t catch a whiff of the end zone the rest of the way. Alabama beat Ole Miss 66-3 last season, and that didn’t feel as overwhelming as this.
Teams don’t typically score 49 points in the first half against a conference opponent, but Alabama does. Alabama became the first SEC team to score 50 or more points in its first three games to start a season.
Adding Tua Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback is the real life equivalent of a video game cheat code. Imagine putting a Big 12 offense with what might be the best defense in the country. It’s unfair on every level.
Where is the stout opposition on this schedule? Alabama has LSU on the road and Auburn at home on its schedule this season, but the way they looked against each other on Saturday, few outside of Baton Rouge or Auburn believe the pair of Tigers can beat Alabama.
There’s also Mississippi State, who played Alabama close last season, but this offense is much more explosive and efficient compared to the one the Bulldogs saw in Starkville last year. Alabama likely will face Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, but it’s unlikely the Bulldogs have enough offense to keep pace with the Tide.
Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma are a few teams that come to mind on a national level, but no one would take either of those teams over Alabama on a neutral field.
Somehow the Alabama machine has become even more unstoppable in 2018. Good luck, college football.
Tua Tagovailoa is magic at quarterback
There are a lot of absurd things that can be said about how well Tua Tagovailoa is playing, but the most ridiculous one might be this: he is 13-for-13 for 298 yards and 6 touchdowns on third downs. Yes, you read that right. Just when a defense thinks they have Alabama backed up, Tagovailoa usually finds a way to get Alabama’s offense out trouble. He’s scoring touchdowns on nearly half of his third-down attempts.
Facing third-and-9 on Alabama’s second offensive possession, Tagovailoa dropped back and threw a laser to fellow sophomore Jerry Jeudy, who caught the dime in stride and outran the Ole Miss secondary for a 79-yard touchdown. It’s about as good a pass as you’ll see in college football, folks. The play was the longest of their young careers.
Tagovailoa has led 20 drives as Alabama’s quarterback. The Crimson Tide has scored touchdowns on 14 of those, and a field goal on another. Not to mention that two of the drives have ended on fumbles from Alabama’s wide receivers. Still, that’s a 75 percent scoring rate.
Jerry Jeudy is on a record pace
Remember that ridiculous stat line that Randy Moss put up against Dallas one day where he had 3 catches for 163 yards and 3 touchdowns? Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy was a toenail away from almost posting a similar line.
Jeudy snagged 3 passes for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. His lone non-touchdown catch produced one of the more memorable plays of the night when he stopped on a dime and juked past a defender before stepping into the end zone. The only problem was the refs ruled him out of bounds before he crossed the goal line.
At Alabama, Amari Cooper posted 124 receptions, 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014, all school records. Unless something crazy happens, Jeudy won’t come close to Cooper’s receptions or yards numbers given the way Alabama is spreading the ball around.
But that touchdown number is reachable if he keeps up a pace close to this. Jeudy already has 6 receiving touchdowns through three games. That’s really impressive.
Putting Ole Miss back in its place
There was a time a short while ago when Ole Miss appeared to have Alabama’s number. The Rebels beat Alabama in back-to-back seasons (2014-2015), and played them close the year after that (2016). Those days appear to be long gone as Alabama has reminded the Rebels of their place in the SEC the last two years.
Alabama has outscored Ole Miss 128-10 in their last two meetings. Since Ole Miss took a 24-3 lead with 2:43 left in the first half of the 2016 game, Alabama has outscored the Rebels 173-29 in the last 10 quarters. Saturday marked the first time Alabama has scored 60 or more points in consecutive games against Ole Miss.