Alabama vs. Texas A&M score, highlights: Crimson Tide handles Aggies with ease at home

TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama welcomed a ranked division opponent to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday in what was assumed to be one of the first really tough tests of the season for the top-ranked Tide. Texas A&M showed plenty of fight, rebounding from an early interception and continuing to hit on big plays with Kellen Mond, but when those scoring drives ended in field goals -- and Tua Tagovailoa was marching right back down the field scoring touchdowns -- there wasn't much the Aggies could do to hang with Alabama in a 45-23 win for the Tide.

Tagovailoa continued to build a case as the best player in the country, completing 22-of-30 passes for 387 yards, four touchdowns and adding a score on the ground. When Alabama was going up-tempo at the end of the first half, the sophomore quarterback was at his best, extending plays with his feet and linking up with receivers down the field to squeeze in scores before halftime that would create a deficit that Texas A&M never overcame.

Alabama has so many freaks on offense that even when a team like Texas A&M is able to create an advantage early, it is unsustainable over four quarters. The Aggies were doing a great job against the run in the first half, but as the game wore on, suddenly those routine Damien Harris runs were becoming explosive plays of 20 yards or more and short passes to wide receivers like Henry Ruggs that were getting wrapped up after a few yards became long touchdown plays. 

And that's the scary thing for the rest of the SEC because there's only a precious few teams that have the horses to go four quarters with Alabama. Until proven otherwise, we can only assume that this edition of the Crimson Tide will continue to roll through opponents with its elite talent and the best player in the country at quarterback. 

Three more things to know about Alabama's big win: 

1. Nick Saban wants you to focus on the things they did wrong. Saban joked with the media after the game that he was tired of the media's adoration of this Crimson Tide team and concerned of its effect on a team that, he believes, cannot afford to spend even a moment enjoying this success at the expense of continuing to improve. He said he wanted reporters to write stories about everything that Alabama was doing wrong so that he could hold it up to the team as motivation. 

OK Nick, here we go: the Tide lost contain on the pocket at times with Mond, allowing him to break loose for long runs. There were three procedural penalties, including 12 men on the field, and the defense allowed a 99-yard touchdown drive after pinning the Aggies at the 1-yard line in the first quarter. 

But that's it! Alabama is not perfect or unbeatable, but there are only a handful of teams in the country that are going to be able to seize an opportunity presented by these mistakes and take control of a game against this group. 

2. The Tide defense might be underrated. Dylan Moses and Xavier McKinney flashed in this game, showing why they are the next up in the long line of pros to cycle through Nick Saban's defense in Tuscaloosa. Isaiah Buggs was disruptive and, along with Raekwon Miller and the rest of the defensive line, kept Mond uncomfortable for the entire game. Coming into the year, it was expected that Alabama's offense would be elite but the defensive expectations were mixed. We're not used to Alabama putting up nearly 50 every time it takes the field, but we should be used to the defense squeezing the life out of teams and that hasn't changed. 

If anything, this Alabama defense seems to have revived the habit of game-changing turnovers and big returns that defined the era of Eddie Jackson and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Up next in that line of stars is Patrick Surtain II, who got his turn with the ball-out belt (don't forget Alabama had its wrestling-style championship belt in 2015, long before the turnover chain) after a big interception and return. 

3. There are positive takeaways for Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M. Fisher was realistic about his team's chances in this game, and proud of their performance after its conclusion. He was proud of the way the Aggies continued to fight, and seemed to know that the 10-point swing at the end of the second quarter really broke the game open in a way that they were not going to be able to recover. But Texas A&M did continue, all the way until the final seconds of the game, taking shots against this Alabama defense and Jimbo told the team they should be proud of their effort in his first visit to Tuscaloosa. 

Gary Danielson pointed out on CBS Sports HQ after the game that Kirby Smart's first year at Georgia wasn't instant success, and even Saban had some bumps during his first year at Alabama. If the coaching tree trends continue and Texas A&M is able to land some big wins on the recruiting trail, we could see the Aggies looking much more competitive in the SEC West as soon as next season. 

CBS Sports was with with you the entire way updating this story with the latest scores, highlights and analysis from Texas A&M at Alabama. If you are unable to view the live updates below, please click here.

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CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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