ORLANDO — Tomorrowland isn’t just at Disney World any more.
It arrived for Alabama football on Saturday night.
The future that fans and opponents alike had anticipated, some with joy and some with dread, arrived with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, giving the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide an unprecedented offensive arsenal in a 51-14 win against Louisville in the Camping World Kickoff game.
Tagovailoa led Alabama (1-0) on four touchdown drives in the first half, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for another. The first touchdown pass, a 13-yarder, complete with pirouette, went to Jerry Jeudy. He also threw a 25-yard score to Jeudy at the end of the half. In between, Tagovailoa had a 9-yard scoring run and fellow sophomore Najee Harris scored on a 1-yard run.
Both Tagovailoa and last year’s starting quarterback Jalen Hurts played in the first half but Tagovailoa rolled up clearly superior numbers. The final numbers for Tagovailoa, who played only one series in the second half: 12 of 16 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Ultimately, Saban’s promised two-quarterback rotation became three as redshirt freshman Mac Jones also came in for much of the fourth quarter.
Saban was not in much mood for discussion afterwards, asking ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor “Why do you continually ask me to say something that is going to disrespect one of them? I’m not going to. So quit asking.”
Still, it was hard to ignore Tagovailoa’s five touchdown drives.
After Alabama’s lead went to 34-0 on Josh Jacobs’ 18-yard run, Louisville scored for the first time on a 10-play, 74-yard drive aided greatly by Crimson Tide penalties.
Jacobs then returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown, the Crimson Tide’s first kickoff return for a touchdown since Kenyan Drake’s scoring return against Clemson in the 2015 College Football Playoff Championship.
Shyheim Carter added an interception return, giving Alabama touchdowns on receptions, rushes, a kickoff return and an interception return for the first time since the 2013 opener against Virginia Tech. Louisville added a late touchdown after Alabama had turned to its younger reserves.
The Crimson Tide was also penalized for 111 yards, the most in a game since 2016.
Alabama is 9-0 in neutral-site openers under Saban, outscoring the opposition 339-125 (37.7-13.9) in those games.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com