Rapid Reaction: Tagovailoa, Alabama rock Tennessee on Third Saturday in October
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — If you blink, you will miss it.
What No. 1 Alabama is doing to teams in the first quarter of games this season should be illegal in 50 states. The Crimson Tide continued its slaughter through the schedule with a record-setting 58-21 drubbing of Tennessee on Saturday afternoon.
Alabama topped 50 points for the sixth time, setting a single-season program record. Their point total Saturday was the program’s most against Tennessee.
Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) hung 28 on the Volunteers in the first quarter, essentially ending the game before it started. Alabama has its bye week next Saturday before traveling to Baton Rouge for a top-10 showdown with LSU on Nov. 3.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa continued his precise play, throwing for 306 yards and 4 touchdowns. He still hasn’t thrown an interception this season. Freshman wide receiver Jaylen Waddle topped 100 receiving yards and had a score on the day.
It took nine plays, but Alabama continued its season-long streak of finding the end zone on its opening drive. Tagovailoa, wearing a bulky knee brace, found Jerry Jeudy in the corner of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown to cap off a balanced drive (5 runs, 4 passes). The catch was Jeudy’s 10th touchdown of the season.
Alabama scored its second touchdown less than 30 seconds later. Alabama safety Xavier McKinney sacked Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano and forced a fumble, which linebacker Christian Miller recovered. Two plays later, running back Josh Jacobs scored on a 3-yard run to make it 14-0 early in the first.
Tagovailoa continued to show why he’s the Heisman front-runner with his second touchdown pass. Tagovailoa found Jaylen Waddle streaking toward the sideline. It was a perfect throw as Waddle was able to catch it in stride, turn up field and outrace the defenders for a 77-yard touchdown to make it 21-0.
Later in the first quarter, Damien Harris scored on a 3-yard run to make it 28-0.
To its credit, Tennessee kept fighting. After starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano was knocked out of the game on a vicious hit from Mack Wilson, backup Keller Chryst found running back Ty Chandler for a 10-yard touchdown to make it 28-7 midway through the second.
The excitement didn’t last long for Tennessee as Alabama responded quickly. Tennessee attempted and recovered an onside kick, but it was overturned because the ball touched a Volunteer player before going 10 yards. That gave Alabama a short field, and Jacobs found the end zone for the second time on the day to make it 35-7.
Chryst continued to make Alabama’s defense pay for not covering the middle of the field. He found receiver Tyler Byrd for a 20-yard touchdown to make it 35-14.
Tagovailoa stepped up again with surgical precision, driving Alabama down the field for another score. He found tight end Irv Smith Jr. for a 9-yard score to make it 42-14 just before half.
Things were already ugly, but the opening sequence of the second half made it worse for the Vols. Tennessee opened the half with a safety after fair catching the kickoff at its own 3. On the ensuing possession, Tagovailoa found Henry Ruggs III for a 41-yard touchdown to make it 51-14.
That would be Tagovailoa’s last drive of the game as Jalen Hurts took over. Hurts’ first pass was tipped at the line and resulted in a pick-6 to make it 51-21. He responded on the next drive, rushing for a 21-yard touchdown to make it 58-21 late in the third quarter.
Mac Jones put the finishing touches on the Tide’s 12th consecutive victory over the Vols.