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Tua Tagovailoa is the Heisman Favorite, As Well He Should Be

Alex Kilpatrick

by Alex Kilpatrick in College Football

Sep 12, 2018 · 3:01 PM PDT

Tua Tagovailoa
Bettors can wager on whether tonight's CFP title game between Tua Tagavailoa's Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers will be higher scoring than Super Bowl 53. Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire
  • Tua Tagovailoa is the outright favorite to win the Heisman Trophy
  • Now that we’re sure he’s the starting quarterback, that seems reasonable
  • What will he have to do to lock down the statue?

Tua Tagovailoa has been a Heisman Trophy favorite since the last play of the 2018 College Football Playoff. Now those odds have improved even more, and Tua is the outright Heisman favorite.

Tua Tagovailoa 2018 Heisman Trophy Odds

As you can see over at the Heisman Trophy Odds Tracker, Tua’s been a favorite since just after he won the national championship game. That may have been a bit overeager at the time.

2018 Heisman Trophy Odds

Player Heisman Trophy odds
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama) +333
Will Grier (QB West Virginia) +450
Dwayne Haskins (QB Ohio State) +650
Jonathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin) +900
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State) +950

The Case for Tua Tagovailoa

Before we get into talking about Tua specifically, let’s remind ourselves of some of the Heisman Trophy’s biases.

  • The Heisman Trophy is almost always won by a quarterback
  • The Heisman Trophy is usually won by a player on a contending team
  • The Heisman Trophy voter is sleepy, and likes primetime games

The first two are self-evident. Seven of the last eight Heisman winners were quarterbacks, and mobile ones at that. Five of them either won a national title or appeared in the Playoff.

Seven of the last eight Heisman winners were quarterbacks, and mobile ones at that. Five of them either won a national title or appeared in the Playoff.

The third point is maybe less prominent, but still important. Generations of Stanford stars have wallowed in Heisman voting because their games start after the East Coast sports media types have gone to bed.

Tua Tagovailoa is, on paper, the ideal Heisman Trophy candidate. An exciting mobile quarterback, on a team with even odds to make the Playoff, and in a conference that has a special relationship with ESPN.

Tua Tagovailoa is Finally the Starting Quarterback

The biggest reason we saw Tua’s odds start to fall is that we’ve finally seen him as Alabama’s starting quarterback in 2018. Even after the national title game, in which Jalen Hurts was benched in the second half and Tua led the Tide to a remarkable comeback, it still wasn’t clear who’d be QB1 for Alabama.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban didn’t make things easier, more or less refusing to answer questions about who would occupy the most important position on the most prominent football team in the country. Even after the first game of the season, Saban was reluctant to answer any questions about his quarterbacks:

Now that we’re two games (and two Tua Tagovailoa starts) into the season, we can be reasonably sure what Alabama’s depth chart looks like. That helps Tua’s odds measurably, since it’s very hard to win a Heisman from the sideline.

Alabama may well still play Hurts, and he does add another wrinkle to game-planning against Alabama. For now, though, it seems like Tagovailoa is the #1 guy in Tuscaloosa.

Tua Tagovailoa is Playing Extremely Well

With all the hype and talk, we have yet to arrive at the central question: how is Tua doing on the field? In short, he’s doing very well. He threw two touchdowns and ran for one more against Louisville in his debut as the starting quarterback:

Against Arkansas State, Tua handled his business and put up a mildly silly stat line. He completed 13 passes on 19 attempts, for four touchdowns and 228 yards. Through two games, his touchdown total is behind only Drew Lock in the SEC, and his Passing Efficiency Rating is first in the conference and #2 in the country.

What’s Next for Alabama and Tua Tagovailoa?

Neither of Alabama’s first two games were hugely prominent matchups. Louisville looked remarkably good in Week 1 without Lamar Jackson, but the game was fairly one-sided. Week 2’s matchup against the #3 team in the Sun Belt didn’t really move the needle. Tagovailoa will need to perform just as well in some of the Crimson Tide’s bigger games to earn the Heisman Trophy.

Through two games, Tagovailoa’s Passing Efficiency Rating is first in the conference and #2 in the country.

Week 3 brings the Tide to Oxford, Mississippi, where the NCAA-sanctioned but still scary Ole Miss will try to recapture their Chad Kelly-era magic. Texas A&M’s trip to Tuscaloosa in Week 4 will likely be the biggest game of the weekend, and if Tagovailoa can show off in that game he’ll cement his status as the Heisman favorite.

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