Tua Tagovailoa rushes to the defense of Alabama's benched QB Jalen Hurts


One of the first national analysts to proclaim that Tagovailoa was a superior passer to Hurts, who was the 2016 SEC player of year, was former Super Bowl champion quarterback and Elite 11 head coach Trent Dilfer. "He's built for stuff like this". He has served as the Tide's starter each of the last two years, leading them to a pair of national championship game appearances.

With the Tide facing a second and 26, Gold - like many others - said he agreed with analyst Phil Savage that Alabama would try to get as much of the loss back as possible and settle for a field-goal attempt. Jalen Hurts completed 10 of 18 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. I still can't believe that this is what happened. "There's lots of highs and lows".

The reason I say his habits looked like they've been in place for a long time is because of the two final plays of the game. These kids really responded the right way.

Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained and even Saban seemed nearly giddy after watching maybe the most improbable victory of his career.

With Tagovailoa already showing an early rapport with the trio of receivers, Alabama has the makings of what could develop into their most dynamic passing attack in program history. Coaching college players, who are willing to put up with the rigors coaches put them through for a chance at the National Football League after a couple of years, is easier than in the pro game. Calvin Ridley finished with 103 yards and a touchdown on three catches. With less than a minute remaining, top-ranked Nebraska scored on a 24-yard Jeff Smith option run, cutting Miami's lead to 31-30. "Go make the play". Kiffin said the coaching staff actually preferred Tagovailoa. "Smitty was wide open". Left tackle Alex Leatherwood stepped in after Jonah Williams was injured and held up nicely against the ferocious Georgia front.

The Tide held the Bulldogs to zero points, 41 yards and just two first downs in the fourth quarter and then to just a field goal in overtime in setting the stage for Tagovailoa to win the game with that touchdown pass to Smith.

"I just thought we had to throw the ball, and I felt he could do it better, and he did", Saban said. He's just a great person. I mean, one of the first things that I said to Jalen was we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you. Great for our players.

Alabama coach Nick Saban was looking for a spark and he found it in Tua Tagovailoa.

This one was nothing like the others. But trailing 13-0 at half, that 19-year-old ball of Hawaiian chaos was what Alabama needed to win.

If you didn't think Nick Saban was the best college football coach of all time going into this season's national championship game against Georgia, think again. Well, I wouldn't have been in that situation in my head because that's just how I think.

And let's credit Georgia, which had a compelling story of its own with true freshman Jake Fromm at quarterback. His performance also left little doubt who should be the starter going into next season.