For all the debate about who might or might not play on Saturday, there turned out to be more than enough fun for all.
No. 1 Alabama crushed Arkansas State 57-7 as both quarterbacks, sophomore Tua Tagovailoa and junior Jalen Hurts, played productively in the first half. Tagovailoa, the starter for a second consecutive week, competed 13 passes on 19 attempts, netting 226 yards and four touchdowns.
Hurts lost a fumble after being knocked for a loop as he dove for the end zone, but regrouped to complete 7 of 9 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. The six combined touchdown passes were the most by Alabama since a school-record seven against Southern Miss in 1950.
“I think both guys did a really good job today,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said of the quarterbacks. “I think both guys played well today.”
The victory marked the first time Alabama has started a season with back-to-back 50-point performances since 1925.
In addition to the passing yardage, Crimson Tide sophomore Najee Harris had a career high 135 yards rushing on 13 carries, scoring on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter for the final points.
Tagovailoa, picking up where he left off last week against Louisville, led the Crimson Tide on three first-quarter touchdown drives, hitting three different wide receivers. A 58-yard catch-and-run slant pass over the middle to Jerry Jeudy started the scoring, with Tagovailoa later adding a 31-yard touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs III and a 41-yarder to DeVonta Smith.
Hurts’ opportunity came in the second quarter as he threw scoring passes of 10 yards to tight end Irv Smith Jr. and seven yards to Jeudy.
Saivion Smith added a 38-yard interception return as UA led 40-0 at halftime.
The Crimson Tide did miss two extra point attempts in the first quarter, leading to a switch from Austin Jones to Joseph Bulovas. That seemed to stabilize the issue, with Bulovas going 5-for-5 on PATs and making a 39-yard field goal.
In addition to the Najee Harris run, Derek Kief scored on a 14-yard pass from Tagovailoa to round out the 57-point effort.
The only significant injury actually happened in pregame warm-ups as freshman cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis injured a knee. Saban did not give an immediate diagnosis but noted that “the doc is not optimistic.”
Alabama (2-0) opens Southeastern Conference play next at Ole Miss, which posted a 76-41 win against Southern Illinois on Saturday.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225