The Crimson Tide is headed back to the College Football Playoff, looking for its second straight national title and the sixth of the last decade under Saban. The Crimson Tide won the SEC championship 35-28 over Georgia, the unbeaten Fighting Irish were idle and Clemson won the ACC title over Pittsburgh, 42-10.
Eleven months later, against the same opponent, in the same stadium, facing a similar situation, the tables were turned.
Tagovailoa hurt his right ankle when an offensive lineman stepped on it in the fourth quarter of the Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 6 Georgia.
With an extra point, Alabama narrowed the score to 21-14 Georgia with just over two minutes to go in the first half.
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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart understands this, and while 90 percent of the battle will be out-coaching college football legend Nick Saban, Smart needs to make sure his team is mentally ready for their toughest challenge of the season.
"Well we've always had a lot of faith in Jalen, and I told him when we put him in when Tua got hurt, 'It's your time.' And he certainly took advantage of it and did a fantastic job".
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"I'm so proud of this guy", Saban said as Hurts joined him for the interview. I don't want to play them again.
The Crimson Tide was welcomed by numerous people distributing hand sanitizer to everyone who got off the bus, players, coaches and team officials alike. Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma were the top four teams in both polls on a somewhat anti-climactic "Selection Sunday".
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Saban kept an open competition through training camp before naming Tagovailoa the starting quarterback prior to Alabama's season opener in September. He was also inefficient, completing 10 of 25 passes and throwing just one touchdown. He sat back and watched Tagovailoa lead Alabama to a 12-0 record in the regular season, supporting his teammates and hoping his moment would come.