Alabama vs. Missouri

Alabama linebacker Christopher Allen (4) stops Missouri quarterback Drew Lock (3) in first half action at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday October 13, 2018.

Georgia and West Virgina flunked Saturday. Notre Dame apparently skipped class. Ohio State merely passed, again. As for Alabama? It was acing an open-book test.

Then, suddenly, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, operating on one good leg, ran for a first down and sent a jolt of concern throughout Bryant-Denny Stadium when he couldn’t get up.

The Alabama mid-term test, once laughable, suddenly looked like advanced calculus.

Week after week of the autumn of 2018 one college football elite after another has been exposed. The exception? Top-ranked Alabama.

The Tide looks like a machine. But a 39-10 victory against Missouri proved Alabama — news flash to the rest of the world — is an injury or two from being mortal.

Most will point to Tagovailoa as the player Alabama can’t afford to lose. In truth, no one else has a Plan B like Jalen Hurts. Still, there’s no doubt the Alabama offense operates on a different level when Tagovailoa is throwing daggers at defenses.

He was good against Missouri, completing 12 of 22 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns in just over a half. Those numbers help his run-away Heisman campaign, but he wasn’t as sharp as he’s been. That was evident before the injury sent him to the sideline (and, briefly, the super-secret medical tent) for the rest of the night.

Saban’s recruiting is almost taken for granted. The NFL calls, injuries mount, and it’s plug-and-play with the next superstar of future Sundays.

And the machine rolls on.

Only … there’s something different going on this year. Even Saban has alluded to it, publicly (the convertible’s leaking oil, folks)

The depth is razor thin in the secondary where three cornerbacks, including starter Trevon Diggs, are out. It’s questionable at linebacker, where experience is minimal outside the starting four.

While Missouri didn’t provide a serious scare Saturday, the human body did. Before Alabama’s video-game QB left, receiver DeVonta Smith headed to the locker room with a leg injury.

Then Henry Ruggs III rolled his ankle, left and returned to take a deep throw from Hurts — limping again at the end of the play. The receiver position may be Alabama’s deepest, yet took a beating.

There’s still no certainty that there will be anyone left standing to test Alabama.

But if the Tide does face adversity, will it have enough hands on deck to answer decisively?

Contact Doug Segrest at sports@montgomeryadvertiser.com.

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