Tagovailoa, No. 2 Alabama romp over New Mexico State, 62-10

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) and running back Najee Harris (22) look to the sideline for a play during the first half against New Mexico State Saturday. [VASHA HUNT/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]

When: 2:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Columbia, S.C

TV/Radio: FM-93.9, AM-920

The line: Alabama by 24

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Four-down territory

1. South Carolina has a new quarterback: The Gamecocks were counting on experienced Jake Bentley to provide leadership and guidance this season. Bentley, a fine quarterback, lasted only one game before he fractured his left foot on the final play of the first game against North Carolina and is out for the season. Coach Will Muschamp turned the offense over to true freshman Ryan Hilinski last week against Charleston Southern, and he proved to be more than adequate in a 72-10 romp. Hilinski finished his first start 24 of 30 for 282 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

2. Run games on display: Both teams went heavy in the run games in easy wins last weekend. Alabama, which was sluggish against Duke in the ground game, responded with 318 yards on 32 carries. However, two of those carries went for a total of 149 yards which skewed the 9.9 yards per attempt average. The other 30 carries produced 169 yards and a still solid 5.0 yards per carry average. South Carolina rushed for 493 yards and 8 touchdowns in its win. Kevin Harris and Mon Denson combined for 265 yards and 4 touchdowns on just 15 carries.

3. First road trip for Tide: This will be Alabama’s first true road game after opening the season at a neutral site in Atlanta and hosting New Mexico State Saturday. For the Tide’s veterans, this won’t be any more hostile of an environment than what they have seen before. But playing on the road never seems to be easy. The teams haven’t met in Columbia since 2010 and the Gamecocks walked away with a 35-21 win that day.

4.  Teacher-pupil relationship: Will Muschamp was an assistant under Nick Saban while both were at LSU. Muschamp said Saban was demanding, but fair. “At the end of the day, Nick’s demanding,” Muschamp told The State newspaper on Sunday. “And that’s what makes him very successful. He does a really good job of hiring coaches. He does a really good job of teaching coaches how he wants his system, his program administered. I think that’s a huge strength of his, and anticipating issues before they arise. I think that Nick was demanding but he never asked me to do something he wasn’t doing himself from a work standpoint. That’s what always impressed me from that standpoint. He wants to play at a high level. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

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Key matchup

Alabama’s defensive line vs. South Carolina’s offensive line

For South Carolina to have any chance to win, its offensive line has to play Alabama to a standoff in the trenches. If Alabama wins the line of scrimmage on defense, Ryan Hilinski is going to have a long day. If the Gamecocks can move Alabama off the line and get something going in the run game, they’ll have a chance at the upset.

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Player of the week

Raekwon Davis, DL

Davis will be front and center on causing mayhem in South Carolina’s backfield. He had six tackles against New Mexico State in limited playing time and should be equally as good Saturday.

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By the numbers

12-3: Alabama’s lead in the series over South Carolina, although one win was vacated.

3: Number of touchdown passes caught by Jerry Jeudy in Alabama’s 62-10 win over New Mexico State.

74: Longest run in Alabama backup RB Keilan Robinson’s career. It went for a third-quarter touchdown and was the last score for the Tide in the romp.

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Prediction

Alabama 42, South Carolina 17

It’s hard to see South Carolina hanging with the Tide with a freshman quarterback, even if it is in Columbia. Alabama’s passing game shows no weakness, and the run game is coming along just fine.

— Gregg Dewalt

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