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Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa (No. 13) celebrates beating the Georgia Bulldogs in overtime to win the CFP National Championship on Monday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Alabama football: Nick Saban trusted Tua Tagovailoa with game, and he delivered

Matt Speakman

Alabama football drives the conversation here at the Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap, but we’ll cover news for every facet of the Crimson Tide. Every morning, we’ll be here for the latest on Alabama football, basketball and every other sport on campus.

From backup quarterback to hero

At the end of the first half against Georgia, Alabama coach Nick Saban knew he needed to make a change. So, he made a bold move by benching his starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts, in favor of Tua Tagovailoa. The change worked. Tagovailoa came in and led Alabama back from being 13 points down. He threw for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns in Alabama’s 26-23 overtime win.

Throughout the second half, Tagovailoa had to make big plays in high-pressure situations. During that time, he would pray to himself and speak in tongues to keep himself calm. When the pressure was the highest, Tagovailoa delivered. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith, who was once committed to Georgia. His efforts earned him offensive MVP honors.

Still, it was Hurts who got Alabama to the national championship. When ESPN interviewed him after the game, he appeared to be nothing but happy for Tagovailoa. On the day after the game, Saban admitted the team has two very good quarterbacks.

In other headlines …

  • Former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Saban could consider leaving Alabama for the New York Giants.
  • Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough said he did not yell “F–k Trump” while walking through the tunnel before the game.
  • President Donald Trump left the national championship at halftime and declined to watch the rest of the game on his plane.
  • Fox Sports analyst Colin Cowherd said Tagovailoa was comparable to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

The 24-hour rule

Alabama’s 24-hour rule is always put into effect, no matter what the situation is. Saban has always gone back to work, even after earning college football’s top prize. After the emotional victory against Georgia on Monday, Saban said it would be no different this time around. He is going to go back to work to prepare for another championship run next season. Despite that, he is still going to take some time to enjoy this win.

Roster turnover

Just like every offseason, Alabama will have to deal with numerous players leaving early for the draft. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley, defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, as well as safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison, all seem like locks to join the NFL after big seasons by all four of them. All four of those players are high on many people’s draft boards.

On Tuesday, however, Saban hinted that more than those four players are considering leaving early. He said Alabama has as many as seven players total considering entering the draft.

Sideline altercation

One of the biggest storylines from the game was not what happened on the field but what happened on the sideline. After linebacker Mekhi Brown was flagged for a personal foul on a kickoff, Saban chewed him out. Brown was clearly frustrated and caught up in his emotions. He reacted by nearly punching an Alabama staff member on the sideline. Brown surprisingly remained in the game and made a big tackle later on a kickoff.

When asked about this, Saban said he had no idea what the reporter was referring to. Brown then took to Twitter to defend his actions.

Bond between brothers

Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley had a career game for the Bulldogs in the loss. He caught 6 passes for 82 yards. He entered the game with just 8 catches all season. His brother, Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley, also made plays on the field. He caught the game-tying touchdown pass. After the game, the two had a moment together and exchanged jerseys.

Around the Capstone

Alabama basketball dominated South Carolina 76-62 at home to snap a two-game losing streak.

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