Following a record-breaking Saturday, Alabama is back atop the Associated Press college football poll. The Crimson Tide took the No. 1 spot for the first time this season, and it has now been ranked first at some point in each of the past 12 years, extending its own record. It marks the 119th time Alabama has sat at No. 1, the most of any school since the AP poll started in 1936.
The Crimson Tide got there thanks to a 59-31 stomping of Mississippi, highlighted by the Tua Tagovailoa and DeVonta Smith Show. They connected for five touchdowns on the day.
Smith, who caught the game-winning touchdown from Tagovailoa in the national title game two seasons ago, grabbed 11 catches on Saturday for school records of 274 yards and the five TDs. That yardage total ranks sixth in SEC history.
As for Tagovailoa, he passed for a school-record six touchdowns, added a seventh on the ground, and completed 26 of 36 passes for 418 yards. That gives him 86 touchdowns in his collegiate career, making the junior the new all-time Alabama leader.
Touchdown pass number SIX on the day for Tua. That's good for a new Alabama single-game record. pic.twitter.com/zKz1kJqjuq
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 28, 2019
With 23 passing TDs (best in the nation), zero interceptions, 1,718 passing yards (2nd in the nation) and a 76.4 completion percentage (4th) through five games this season, Tagovailoa is firmly in the Heisman Trophy hunt. His primary competition for college football’s top honor appears to be Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, whom Tagovailoa used to back up at Alabama before Hurts transferred.
“I feel like it’s just the guys I’m surrounded with, that’s all I can say,” Tagovailoa said after Saturday’s game. “Those are the guys that make me look good.”
Deflecting praise is quite common for Tagovailoa.
“All glory goes to God,” Tagovailoa shared on ESPN after winning the national championship two seasons ago. “I can’t describe what He’s done for my family. Who would have ever thought I would ever be here right now in this moment? I thank God for that and I thank my teammates and Coach Saban for the opportunity.”
Tagovailoa came off the bench as a true freshman in the second half to help Alabama win the title for the 2017 season, and he became the starter last year, when he helped lead the team back to the championship game before losing to Clemson. Now, as a junior who can declare for the NFL draft following the season, Tagovailoa finds himself in the spotlight more and more each week. “Tanking for Tua” has become a phrase tossed around to describe NFL teams who could possibly improve their chances of drafting Tagovailoa by losing more games this season.
Through it all, Tua says his faith and family remain his inspiration.
“For me, my foundation is my faith and my family,” Tagovailoa recently told CBN News. “You know, my faith is what keeps me motivated when I can’t even stay motivated myself. I’m just trying to play football, just trying to be able to take care of my family and be able to use my platform for the right reasons.”
One of those reasons, he believes, is to spread the Good News. When asked what he most admires about Jesus, Tagovailoa said, “The greatest gift that God could’ve ever given us was His Son. It’s not just a matter of hearing what Jesus Christ is. It’s a matter of getting to know who Jesus Christ is, to really understand and really feel the identity of who you are because of things that He’s done. And I’d say you can only find your identity through Him, if you know Him.”
After five dominant wins, Tagovailoa and Alabama have a bye this week before visiting No. 25 Texas A&M on Oct. 12.
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