Tua Tagovailoa passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score to lead No. 1 Alabama to a 45-23 rout of No. 22 Texas A&M on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) easily passed the first test against a ranked team. Kellen Mond and the Aggies (2-2, 0-1) couldn’t put up nearly the fight they had in a 28-26 loss to No. 3 Clemson.
Tagovailoa completed 22 of 30 passes before leaving after Henry Ruggs III took a shuttle pass 57 yards for a score late in the third. His first attempt went for a 30-yard touchdown to a diving DeVonta Smith, and he hit tight end Hale Hentges for two more scores.
Damien Harris didn’t get many touches but had a 35-yard run and a 52-yard catch.
“We were fortunate that we made a lot of big plays on offense,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “We really threw the ball effectively and scored a lot of points, but we really didn’t control the game. We didn’t control the line of scrimmage. We struggled to run the ball offensively.”
Mond completed 16 of 33 passes for 196 yards with a touchdown but was intercepted twice, including on his first throw. He collected 98 yards rushing despite getting sacked seven times.
The SEC’s top rusher, Trayveon Williams, found little room to run. He gained 31 yards on eight carries.
Texas A&M seemed poised for a while to give the Tide its first test of the season. But Tagovailoa & Co. kept answering and scored 10 points in the final 1:09 before halftime for a 31-13 lead.
Tagovailoa set up a touchdown with a 52-yard pass down the right sideline to Harris. Then freshman cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. intercepted Mond’s deep ball and the Tide drove for a field goal.
Texas A&M: The Aggies had flirted with an upset of No. 3 Clemson, when Mond passed for most of his 430 yards in the second half. The Aggies couldn’t muster any kind of threat after trailing just 21-13 in the second quarter.
Alabama: Once again, all but put a game away before halftime with the big-play capabilities of Tagovailoa and the Tide. ‘Bama had a pair of scoring drives under a minute before the half, making it 10 already this season. Tide has outscored opponents 148-20 in the first half.
SABAN VS. ASSISTANTS
Alabama coach Nick Saban improved to 13-0 against his former assistants. Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher is 0-2, including last season’s opener at Florida State. He was LSU’s offensive coordinator under Saban from 2000-04.
Texas A&M might drop out of the Top 25 but Alabama further cemented its spot on the No. 1 ranking.
Texas A&M starting safety Donovan Wilson was ejected for targeting late in the first quarter for a hit on receiver Henry Ruggs III.
A&M faces Arkansas in Arlington, Texas.
Alabama gets a break from league games when Louisiana-Lafayette visits.
Source: The Associated Press