Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban had told ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday that Tagovailoa would start if he didn’t have any setbacks during pregame warm-ups.
Tagovailoa, who has passed for 2,166 yards, 27 touchdowns and two interceptions this season for the No. 3-ranked Tide, underwent a “tightrope” surgical procedure Oct. 20 after suffering a high ankle sprain on his right ankle against Tennessee. He missed a 48-7 win over Arkansas two weeks ago, and Alabama had an open date last week.
The quarterback had the same procedure on his left ankle last season after injuring it in the SEC championship game win over Georgia and returned to play less than a month later against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
On Wednesday, Saban told ESPN’s Chris Low that if there were some type of setback during the game, Alabama would not take any chances with Tagovailoa, who was also dealing with a sprained knee a year ago when he injured his ankle.
Mac Jones played in Tagovailoa’s place against the Razorbacks, going 18 for 22 for 235 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. It was his first career start.