Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, right front, runs with the ball against Utah State defensive lineman Hale Motu’apuaka (8) during the first half of a college football game of the NCAA on Saturday, September 3, 2022 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt, Associated Press)
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TUSCALOOSA — With its crimson-stained white jerseys and 98,321-fan arsenal of red-and-white pom-poms, Utah State was torn apart piece by piece Saturday night against No. 1 Alabama.
And they some.
Getting paid $1.91 million to make the trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium, the odds of getting licked by the best team in the country were real. But surely the defending champions Mountain West could stick around for a while, right?
The Crimson Tide led 17-0 in the first quarter, 41-0 at halftime and won 55-0.
Utah State’s offense reached first down only twice and 58 total yards in the first half, and only 136 yards for the game. The rushing attack was obsolete – Calvin Tyler Jr. had 12 carries for 13 yards – while the majority of Logan Bonner’s throws were thrown poorly or dropped. He was just 3 of 9 for 39 yards in a quarter-and-a-half game.
The Alabama offense?
The Crimson Tide rushed for 350 yards in the first half and finished with 559 for the game. Defending Heisman winner Bryce Young finished the game 18 of 28 passing for 195 yards and five touchdowns — everything he wanted, he got. By the time “Mr. Brightside” came on the loudspeakers midway through the second quarter, the game was blouses.
If anything was going to keep the Aggies competitive, it was surely his passing game. The first play from scrimmage, Bonner connected with Cobbs for a 23-yard gain in an attempt to set the tone.
It was the longest completion of the night.
On the next play, the Aggies fumbled the ball and lost 4 yards, then ran the ball on third and long which didn’t go much, then Stephen Kotstanlee hit the punt.
Utah State kept Alabama out of the end zone in their first practice, thanks to an Ike Larson blitz that forced an incompleteness and field goal. But the next drive, however, Young found Jurmaine Burton at third base for a touchdown. Utah State followed by failing to earn a fourth conversion down their side of the field, and Alabama responded with another touchdown to go up 17-0.
The rest of the game went like this: Alabama touchdown, Utah State punt. Rinse and repeat.
The Aggies were simply outmatched in every way.
In the second quarter, Young beat linebacker MJ Tafisi to the edge and turned it into a 63-yard gain.
Recognizing his fallibility, Utah State retired a still-rehab Bonner in the second quarter and opened up the depth board defensively. In the second half, they essentially ran a squad system, swapping first-, second-, and third-string players. Alabama retired their starters in the third quarter.
The second half had some bright spots: Larson had an interception in the third quarter then blocked a punt in the fourth. Third-string quarterback Levi Williams even fabricated a drive beyond the 50-yard line.
But when “Dixie Land Delight” turned on and the lights started to flash, the pom poms continued to ripple, just like the tide. And it made for an unforgettable night for the Aggies.