Rapid Reaction: New stars. Same result: No. 2 Alabama looks the part in throttling Mizzou
No. 3 Oklahoma lost.
No. 4 Georgia didn’t look great.
No. 6 LSU lost for the first time since 2018.
No. 8 Texas survived in overtime.
Upsets and close calls happen, even to college football’s best. They just don’t typically happen to Alabama — and definitely not in a season-opener. Consider the Tide’s routine opening act Saturday a dose of normalcy in a most abnormal year.
The No. 2-ranked Tide rolled past host Missouri 38-19. The who, what and how went according to script for Alabama’s plug-and-play offense, which introduced America to the next wave of future NFL talent.
Before new Mizzou coach Eli Drinkwitz could settle in for his SEC debut, Alabama jumped to a 14-0 lead in the opening frame. Najee Harris scored a rushing TD, and Mac Jones hit Jaylen Waddle for an 18-yard touchdown after they hooked up on a 46-yard post route between two Mizzou defenders. That deep throw, in particular, was an early reminder that Tua Tagovailoa, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs are gone, but explosive plays are still very much part of Steve Sarkisian’s game plan.
Jones finished the opening quarter 8-for-13 for 148 yards and a score. On the 2nd play of the 2nd quarter, Harris crashed in from the 2-yard line for his 2nd TD for a 21-0 lead.
Jones finished the half with a 23-yard teardrop to Waddle for another TD to make it 28-3. That throw also beat double coverage. Waddle finished the half with 7 catches for 121 yards and the 2 scores. It was his first 100-yard receiving game against an SEC team since torching Georgia for 113 yards and a TD in the 2018 SEC Championship Game.
At that point, the only unanswered questions were: Where is Bryce Young, and how much longer do we have to wait to see him?
The suspense level was such that ESPN’s broadcasters posed that query as soon as they came back from intermission.
Jones guided the Tide to another score — Harris scored his 3rd TD on an 8-yard run to bump the cushion to 35-3 — before exiting after a routine 18-for-24, 249-yard, 2-TD effort.
Young made his college debut with 1:09 remaining in the 3rd quarter. His first possession included a bit of everything: The 5-start recruit completed 4-of-5 passes, took a few hits and lost a fumble, the Tide’s first turnover of the season. A throwaway and sack ended his 2nd possession. A misfire led to a short field goal on his 3rd possession.
Maybe that’ll lower the volume on the noise about a quarterback controversy that doesn’t really exist.
Mizzou scored 2 plays later. A busted coverage allowed Tyler Badie to turn a wheel route into a 54-yard touchdown. Maybe that’ll increase the noise about whether Alabama’s defense really is back to the Saban Standard. The temporary breakdown certainly provided Saban the opportunity to admonish those responsible.
Other contenders have legitimate concerns.
For Alabama on Saturday, the challenge was finding them.