Early in the third quarter, Texas A&M delivered the shot it had hoped for. The Aggies had harassed Jalen Hurts into a sub-par passing game, had slowed the Tide’s rushing attack, and by avoiding costly mistakes, the Aggies remained in the game.

Trevor Knight hit Jeremy Tabuyo for 33 yards and then found Christian Kirk for a 25-yard score, and just like that, A&M held a 14-13 lead over the No. 1 team in the land two minutes into the third quarter.

And so, the Aggies had answered the first question of the biggest game of the SEC season: Could A&M put Alabama in a truly uncomfortable position?

Alabama, the argument went, is a great team, but Ole Miss was the only team that tested it. Against everybody else, the Tide played from ahead and flexed their superior muscle over weaker foes. If they found themselves trailing, would the script flip?

That was the second question of the game, and Bama immediately and convincingly answered with a resounding, “no!” And the man answering, as he has been for much of the season, was the true freshman under center, Alabama QB Jalen Hurts.

Facing a challenge, Alabama did what it Alabama does. The Tide went 77 yards in 14 plays to retake the lead with a touchdown. Hurts was instrumental on the drive — dumping quick passes, handing off to stud running back Damien Harris, and when all else failed, shifting the Tide offense to another gear with his ground game.

He capped the drive with a beautiful touch pass to Calvin Ridley, hitting his receiver in a spot that allowed him to turn and find the end zone on a 4-yard score.

After a Tide defensive score late in the third quarter extended the lead to 26-14, Hurts salted the game away in the fourth.

The big play was a 37-yard dash, in which he outran, outcut, and just out-willed the A&M defense. It was a Heisman Trophy sort of moment (hardly the first we’ve seen from Hurts, and unlikely to be the last).

But in that moment, it also begged the biggest question that Hurts has posed to the SEC: What do you do with a quarterback who has the best supporting cast in football — and can also beat you on his own?

Hurts’ stat line isn’t all that impressive — 15-for-25 passing, 166 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and 21 carries for 91 yards and a score on the ground. But in leadership circles, he looks like a Heisman winner.

It’s not a mere freshman who grabs control of the faltering Tide early in the third quarter. It’s an Alabama legend.

Eight games into his career, Hurts has the controls of the smoothest machine in college football. If he can run it to a national title as a freshman, what else can follow?

The sky is the limit, in large part to a freshman quarterback. It might not be how Nick Saban and the Tide army envisioned it. But it’s probably even better.