Fast start helps No. 1 Alabama trounce Tennessee 58-21
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa threw touchdown passes to four receivers and No. 1 Alabama started fast again in a 58-21 victory over Tennessee on Saturday.
Alabama had touchdowns on its first four possessions while outscoring Tennessee 28-0 and outgaining the Volunteers 217-6 in the opening period. Alabama has outscored opponents 165-31, and Tennessee has been outscored 69-16 in first quarters this season.
Tagovailoa went 19 of 29 for 306 yards before leaving midway through the third quarter with Alabama ahead 51-14. He took a big hit on his final play of the day, a 51-yard touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs III.
Earlier, Tagovailoa connected on touchdown passes to Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle and Irv Smith Jr. The Heisman Trophy contender has thrown 25 touchdown passes without an interception this season.
Alabama (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) beat Tennessee (3-4, 1-3) for the 12th straight year and had the highest points total either team has ever recorded in the 101-game history of the series. Alabama is scoring 54.1 points per game and entered the weekend leading all Football Bowl Subdivision teams in that category.
Tennessee quarterback Keller Chryst went 9 of 15 for 164 yards with two touchdown passes after replacing starter Jarrett Guarantano, who got hit by linebacker Mack Wilson midway through the second quarter and never took another snap.
Alabama grabbed a 21-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game.
Tagovailoa capitalized on outstanding protection to cap the first series of the game by throwing an 11-yard pass to Jeudy in the right corner of the end zone, the sophomore’s 10th touchdown catch of the season.
Xavier McKinney then sacked Guarantano and knocked the ball loose, with Christian Miller recovering the fumble at the Tennessee 3. That turnover set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Josh Jacobs, who also had a 2-yard score in the second quarter.
After Tennessee went three-and-out on its next possession, Tagovailoa threw a perfect pass to Waddle, who caught the ball just beyond midfield and raced into the end zone for a 77-yard touchdown. Damien Harris’ 3-yard touchdown run capped a 93-yard drive that made it 28-0 with 3:31 left in the first quarter.
Alabama: After spending the first half of the season as unquestionably the nation’s most dominating team, Alabama gets two weeks to prepare for its Nov. 3 showdown at No. 5 LSU. The Tide’s lopsided victory over a Tennessee team coached by former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt continued a trend. Tide coach Nick Saban owns a 15-0 record during his Alabama tenure when he’s facing one of his former assistants. Three of those victories came this year, as Alabama also beat Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M and Billy Napier of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Tennessee: The Vols must learn to play better at the start of games. Tennessee’s lack of discipline early was a concern, as the Vols committed a few personal fouls early and had cornerback Alontae Taylor ejected in the first quarter. The Vols also had a brutal sequence early in the third quarter, as an illegal fair catch on the second-half kickoff backed them up to their own 3 before Chryst tripped over a lineman’s legs and fell into the end zone for a safety.
Alabama has next week off before visiting No. 5 LSU on Nov. 3.
Tennessee hosts Charlotte on Saturday.