TUSCALOOSA, Ala. >> Tua Tagovailoa passed for three first-quarter touchdowns and Jalen Hurts added two more before halftime, combining to lead No. 1 Alabama to a 57-7 victory over Arkansas State on today.
The Crimson Tide (2-0) racked up big plays on the way to a 40-0 halftime lead while rotating the quarterbacks who battled for the job throughout the offseason. Coach Nick Saban officially announced Tagovailoa would remain the starter Monday, but both were big parts of the plan again.
Tagovailoa finished 13 of 19 for 228 yards and four TDs. He led seven drives and tossed in runs of 15 and 12 yards in the second half. Tagovailoa had TD passes of 58 yards to Jerry Jeudy, 31 to Henry Ruggs III and 41 to DeVonta Smith — all in the first quarter — and tacked on a 14-yarder to Derek Kief.
Hurts, who started the past two seasons, was effective, too. He was 7 of 9 for 93 yards but did fumble at the goal line after taking a hit while airborne.
Najee Harris ran for a career-high 135 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
Justice Hansen couldn’t get the Red Wolves’ fast-paced offense going against the Tide defense. He was 15 of 36 for 140 yards with a touchdown and interception after tying a school-record with six touchdown passes last week.
Alabama outgained Arkansas State 599-391 in total yards.
Arkansas State: Sun Belt Conference favorites couldn’t muster a challenge, a la league mate Appalachian State versus Penn State last week. The Red Wolves didn’t quit, failing on an onside kick attempt after opening the third quarter with a touchdown drive featuring a 25-yard catch by Hansen from wide receiver Darveon Brown.
Alabama: Had the feel of a name-your-score type game early. It’s unclear how long the Tide will keep rotating quarterbacks, but Joseph Bulovas might be the new placekicker. Tide has outscored its first two opponents 108-21.
Cornerback Saivion Smith returned an interception 38 yards for the final touchdown before the half. It was the Tide’s third non-offensive touchdown of the season already and second pick-six.
HERE’S THE KICKER
Alabama’s new kicker, Austin Jones, missed his second and third extra point attempts in the first half. Tide students cheered when Bulovas made his first PAT try. He also made a 39-yard field goal.
Arkansas State visits Tulsa, part of a stretch of three road games in four weeks.
Alabama opens Southeastern Conference play at Mississippi.