Elite WR play propels No. 2 Bama past No. 3 UGA
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 2/2 Alabama football team moved to 4-0 on the season after downing No. 3/3 Georgia, 41-24, Saturday night in Bryant-Denny Stadium. After trailing 24-20 at the half, the Crimson Tide blanked the Bulldogs in the second half, scoring 21 unanswered points. The victory gave UA head coach Nick Saban his third win in the past four games over a former assistant coach and moved him to 22-0 against his protégés during his time as the Crimson Tide's head coach.
Mac Jones notched his third-consecutive game with 400-plus yards passing, going 24-for-32 for 417 yards on the night, tallying four touchdowns through the air and one interception. Jones connected with DeVonta Smith for a pair of scores and Jaylen Waddle and John Metchie Jr. III for one each. Smith had 11 catches for 167, while Waddle had six catches for a career-best 161 yards. Saturday marked the second game in a row that both Smith and Waddle went over 100 yards receiving. Waddle has topped 100 yards in all four games this season. Najee Harris led all rushers with 152 yards on a career-best 31 carries. With his third quarter score, Harris has now posted at least one rushing TD in each of his last 11 games.
The Alabama defense came away with a trio of interceptions, including two in back-to-back third-quarter drives which contributed to Alabama shutting down the Bulldogs in the second half. Malachi Moore (1-42), Daniel Wright (1-18) and Justin Eboigbe (1-4) all recorded interceptions. DeMarcco Hellams (11) and Dylan Moses (10) both recorded double-digit tackles, while Moses (-12 yards) and Christian Barmore (-2 yards) each collected a sack.
GAME CAPTAINS: Alabama's captains for tonight's game against Georgia were Landon Dickerson, Thomas Fletcher and Dylan Moses. Moses went to midfield for the coin toss.
FIRST TIME STARTERS: The Crimson Tide had one student-athlete make his first career start in tonight's game as DeMarcco Hellams got the nod at safety. Hellams earned the start one week removed from John Metchie III and Christopher Allen who each got the start at Ole Miss last weekend. Alabama began the season with a collection of seven players who got their first career start at Missouri on Sept. 26. The group of starters in Columbia was comprised of two on offense, three on defense and two specialists. Getting the nod on offense were offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor Jr. and tight end Carl Tucker. The first-time starters on defense included linebacker Will Anderson Jr. along with defensive backs Malachi Moore and Daniel Wright. Rounding out the group on special teams were placekicker Chase Allen and punter Sam Johnson.
FIRST TIME PLAYERS: Alabama freshman Jamil Burroughs made his first career appearance in this evening's game. He joins a group of 13 Crimson Tide players who have earned their first career playing time this season including freshmen Chase Allen (PK), Will Anderson Jr. (LB), Brian Branch (DB), Sam Johnson (P), Demouy Kennedy (LB), Jase McClellan (RB), Malachi Moore (DB), Drew Sanders (LB), Trey Sanders (RB), Roydell Williams (RB) and Bryce Young (QB), along with seniors Joshua Lanier (WR) and Carl Tucker (TE).
SABAN VS. FORMER ASSISTANTS: Alabama's matchup against Georgia was the 22nd meeting and third this season between Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and one of his former assistants. Saban is in the midst of a four-week stretch against his former assistants, a streak that started with a 52-24 win over Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M on Oct. 3 and was followed by a 63-48 win over Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss on Oct. 10 and a 41-24 victory tonight against Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was a member of the Alabama staff from 2007-15. Saban is 22-0 all-time against his former staffers during his tenure at Alabama. His most wins against a former assistant is four, which have come against Jimbo Fisher (Florida State, 2017; Texas A&M 2018-20). Saban has also totaled three wins vs. Derek Dooley (Tennessee, 2010-12), Jim McElwain (Colorado State, 2013; Florida 2015-16), Kirby Smart (Georgia, 2019, 2018 CFP National Championship Game and SEC Championship) and Will Muschamp (Florida, 2011 and 2014; South Carolina, 2019). He has two wins over Mark Dantonio (Michigan State, 2010 and 2015), Jeremy Pruitt (Tennessee, 2018-19) and one victory over Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss, 2020) and Billy Napier (Louisiana, 2018).
EASTERN STREAK: Alabama's 41-24 victory against Georgia was the Crimson Tide's 28th consecutive victory over an SEC Eastern Division opponent, dating back to a 35-21 loss at then-No. 19 South Carolina on Oct. 9, 2010. The 28 wins include a 5-0 record in SEC Championship Games. During the current run, the Tide is 10-0 vs. Tennessee; 5-0 vs. Georgia (2-0 in SEC CG, 1-0 in CFP NCG); 4-0 vs. Florida (2-0 in SEC CG) and Missouri (1-0 in SEC CG); 2-0 vs. Kentucky and Vanderbilt; and 1-0 vs. South Carolina. Overall, under Nick Saban the Crimson Tide is 38-3 (.927) against the SEC East, including a 6-1 (.857) record in the SEC Championship Game.
SABAN'S HOME RECORD: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 144-20 (.878) in home games during his collegiate head coaching career. He owns an advantage at every stop he has made as a college head coach, including an 85-8 (.914) mark while at UA. Following his 41-24 win over Georgia, Saban has won 55 of his last 58 contests at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
OCTOBER DOMINANCE UNDER SABAN: Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been dominant in the month of October during his time in Tuscaloosa. Saban has compiled a 47-2 (.959) mark with the only two losses coming on the road during that time. His first loss came in 2010 at South Carolina with the only other loss being a 2014 loss at Ole Miss. For his career, Saban is 74-17 (.813) including a 3-1 mark at Toledo, a 12-8 record at Michigan State and a 12-6 stretch at LSU in addition to his time with the Crimson Tide.
SABAN LEADS IN WINS VS. TOP-FIVE TEAMS: Alabama's 41-24 win over No. 3 Georgia was Nick Saban's 25th career victory against a team ranked in the top five of the Associated Press Top 25, the most in college football history. Saban's 25-14 career record in top-five contests gives him a .641 winning percentage, which is also college football's best. Following Saban on the all-time victory list are Bobby Bowden (18/.378 winning percentage), Barry Switzer (15/.516), Woody Hayes (15/.516), Steve Spurrier (15/.429) and Lou Holtz (15/.419). Saban's record includes six wins in the College Football Playoff: No. 3 Michigan State (38-0) and No. 1 Clemson (45-40) in 2015; No. 4 Washington (24-7) in 2016; No. 1 Clemson (24-6) and No. 3 Georgia (26-23) in 2017; and a 45-34 victory over fourth-ranked Oklahoma in 2018. Alabama also went 3-0 in BCS National Championship Games (vs. Texas, 37-21, 2009; vs. LSU, 21-0, 2011; vs. Notre Dame, 42-14, 2012).
AGAINST THE TOP 10: Since the start of the 2008 season, the Crimson Tide has posted a 31-11 (.738) overall record against top-10 teams, including a 16-5 (.762) mark versus the top 10 since the inception of the College Football Playoff. In Saban's five national championship seasons at Alabama, his teams have gone 17-2 against top-10 opponents.
SABAN VS. AP TOP 25: The Crimson Tide's 41-24 win over No. 3 Georgia was Nick Saban's 86th career win and 63rd at Alabama vs. the Associated Press Top 25. That victory over the Bulldogs tied Saban with Joe Paterno's 86 career wins against the AP Top 25, a total that is tops in the history the poll. Last season, Saban's win over then-No. 24 Texas A&M moved him ahead of Florida State legend Bobby Bowden for second all-time. Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant is fourth at 66. Former Duke, Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is fifth at 64. Saban's winning percentage against AP ranked teams (86-42, .672) tops Bryant (.592), Bowden (.557), Spurrier (.529) and Paterno (.512).
BEATING THE BEST: The Crimson Tide is 62-17 (.785) against the Associated Press Top 25, including a 33-10 (.767) mark against AP top-10 teams since the start of 2008. Alabama is 2-0 against the Top 25 this season following a 41-24 win over No. 3 Georgia and a 52-24 win over then-No. 13 Texas A&M on Oct. 3. The Tide finished 2-2 against ranked opponents in 2019, one year removed from going 5-1 against ranked opponents in 2018. Alabama was tasked with a gauntlet schedule in 2017 that featured 10 teams ranked in the AP Poll, going 9-1 and outscoring those opponents by an average score of 38.0-17.3.
TURNOVERS, TURNOVERS, TURNOVERS: With Justin Eboigbe's interception in the first quarter of tonight's game, the Crimson Tide has forced at least one turnover in 70 of its last 76 contests dating back to the start of the 2015 season. During the current run, the Crimson Tide has forced 127 turnovers (84 interceptions, 43 fumbles) and returned 26 of those miscues for touchdowns.
35-OR-MORE IN 17 STRAIGHT: The Crimson Tide scored 41 points in tonight's contest with Georgia. That total marked the 17th straight game that Alabama's offense has scored 35-or-more points, which is the longest streak in major-college football history. Oregon scored at least 35 points in 15 consecutive games from Nov. 5, 2011 through a Nov. 17, 2012 loss to Stanford by a score of 17-14. Alabama's last game of not posting 35-or-more points came in the Tide's 44-16 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Jan. 7, 2019.
500+ YARDS OF TOTAL OFFENSE: Alabama recorded 564 yards of total offense against Georgia, marking the 36th time in the last 76 games, dating to the start of the 2015 season, that the Crimson Tide has eclipsed the 500-yard mark. In 2018, UA totaled 500 or more yards in 12 of 15 games to set a single-season record. The Tide followed that up by eclipsing 500 yards of offense in nine of the 13 games of the 2019 campaign. Alabama has gone over the 500-yard marker three times this season.
EXPLOSIVE PLAYS ALL AROUND UNDER SARK: Since Steve Sarkisian took over as offensive coordinator in 2018, the Crimson Tide has had an FBS-leading six different players catch a touchdown pass of 75 yards or more. So far this season, the Alabama offense has posted three including tonight's 90-yarder to Jaylen Waddle. In addition, the Tide recorded an 87-yard and 78-yard scoring play against Texas A&M on Oct. 3. The 87-yarder came from Waddle and was preceded by a 78-yarder from John Metchie III for the first score of the game.
TWO OVER 100: With 100-plus yard receiving performances from both senior DeVonta Smith (167) and junior Jaylen Waddle (161) in tonight's game, Alabama has now recorded 12 games in program history with two receivers over the 100-yard mark, including three this season. The Crimson Tide's 12 total games with two over 100 yards includes one game in 2019 and three in 2018. Prior to 2018, the Crimson Tide had only seen receiving duos post 100 or more receiving yards in the same game five times in history and only once in the Nick Saban era.
SCORING STREAK CONTINUES: Alabama extended its school record for consecutive games with a score to 259 thanks to John Metchie III's 40-yard touchdown catch from Mac Jones in the first quarter of this evening's matchup with Georgia. The Crimson Tide was last held off the scoreboard in a 9-0 loss to Auburn on Nov. 18, 2000. Alabama has a 201-55 (.785) record over the course of the current streak.
MR. 85-PLUS, MAC JONES: With his 90-yard connection with Jaylen Waddle for a score, Mac Jones has now totaled four passing touchdowns of 85 yards or more during his Alabama career. The four passing touchdowns of 85-plus yards are a program-high total. Jones first connected with Waddle for a 94-yarder against Louisiana on Sept. 29, 2018. Jones followed a year later by finding Jerry Jeudy for an 85-yard score to open the Vrbo Citrus Bowl against Michigan on Jan. 1 to close out last season. Most recently, Jones found waddle for an 87-yarder against Texas A&M on Oct. 7. Brodie Croyle and AJ McCarron are each tied for second with two passing touchdowns of 85 yards or more. McCarron holds the Alabama record for longest passing touchdown in program history at 99 yards when he connected with Amari Cooper against Auburn on Nov. 30, 2013.
MAC GOES OVER 400 PASSING...AGAIN: Mac Jones finished this evening's game with 417 passing yards against the Georgia Bulldogs. This evening's performance is his third consecutive 400-plus yard performance this season and the third of his career. Jones now owns three of Alabama's nine all-time 400-plus yard passing performances and is tied with Tua Tagovailoa (2017-19) for the most 400-yard passing performances in Alabama history.
SMITH REWRITING ALABAMA RECORD BOOKS: Wide receiver DeVonta Smith finished this evening's game with 167 yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches. Smith has totaled 156 catches for 2,592 yards and 27 touchdowns while averaging 16.6 yards per grab. His career totals all rank him in the top-10 for each receiving category.
BIG-PLAY WADDLE: Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle has registered 100-plus yard receiving performances in all four games this season and is averaging 139.3 yards per game. His 161 yards in tonight's game set a new career high, and he has also accounted for a program-best five receptions of 75-plus yards for a touchdown during his career. For his career, Waddle has accumulated 1,965 yards on 103 catches to average 19.1 yards per reception, a total that is good for second all-time in Alabama records.
11 IN A ROW WITH A TD FOR NAJEE: With Najee Harris' two-yard rushing score in the third quarter of this evening's contest with Georgia, the senior has notched a rushing touchdown in 11 straight games dating back to the Oct. 19 matchup with Tennessee last season. Over the 11-game streak, Harris has accumulated 23 rushing touchdowns and two-or-more scores in seven of those games. Harris has totaled 1,272 yards and 23 touchdowns on just 218 carries during that stretch.
HARRIS MOVING UP THE CHARTS: Najee Harris finished this evening's game with 152 yards and one touchdown, eclipsing the 100-yard marker for the ninth time in his career and second time this season. Harris has now totaled 2,893 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns for his career. Those numbers include 783 yards and four scores as a sophomore to go with 370 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman, in addition to his junior totals.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES REICHARD FROM 50-PLUS: Will Reichard connected on a 52-yard field goal to close out this evening's first half. The made field goal was the sophomore's career-long score and Alabama's first from 50-or-more yards since Adam Griffith hit from 50 against Auburn on Nov. 28, 2015.