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Tua Tagovailoa Can Lock Up the Heisman Trophy this Weekend

Alex Kilpatrick

by Alex Kilpatrick in College Football

Oct 31, 2018 · 3:12 PM PDT

Alabama LSU
Alabama/LSU is the most important game of the weekend, and could seal Tua Tagovailoa's Heisman Trophy bid. Photo by TheCoiner [CC License].
  • Tua Tagovailoa is the outright favorite to win the Heisman Trophy
  • As Alabama travels to Death Valley, that race could end this weekend
  • Does Kyler Murray still have a chance?

The Alabama Crimson Tide travel to Death Valley this weekend for their annual game against the LSU Tigers. As both teams are within the top four of the Playoff Committee’s rankings, this is essentially a quarterfinal. With all that at stake, there’s perhaps another prize up for grabs: the Heisman Trophy.

2018 Heisman Trophy Odds


For more line history, check out the Heisman Trophy Odds Tracker. Here’s the current odds.

2018 Heisman Trophy Odds

Player Odds
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama) -275
Kyler Murray (QB Oklahoma) +333
Dwayne Haskins (QB Ohio State) +900
Shea Patterson (QB Michigan) +1200
Travis Etienne (RB Clemson) +1600

You can see that Tua’s has had better-than even odds since late September, and is firmly in control of this race. He’s managed that without ever appearing in the fourth quarter of a game.

Is Tua Really Unstoppable?

Through eight games, Tua’s stats are already approaching Heisman trophy levels. He’s thrived as a passer, throwing for 2,066 yards and 25 touchdowns. It gets crazy when you start to consider how little Tua’s had to throw the ball: with just 152 total attempts, and only three games with 20 attempts or more, Tua’s put up some pretty crazy efficiency numbers. He’s completed 70.4% of his passes, and 16.4% of his attempts have resulted in touchdowns. He’s averaging almost 14 yards per attempt.

A Tua Tagovailoa passing attempt is comfortably worth a first down and almost a whole point. Here’s an uncomfortable graph to look at:

All-Time College Football Passing Leaders

Stat All-Time Leader* All Time Runner Up
Passing Yards Per Attempt Tua Tagovailoa (2018) 13.6 Kyler Murray (2018) 12.7
Adjusted Passing Yards Per Attempt Tua Tagovailoa (2018) 16.9 Kyler Murray (2018) 15.0
Passer Efficiency Rating Tua Tagovailoa (2018) 238.8 Kyler Murray (2018) 198.9

*For college football purposes, “all time” refers to “since 1956.”

Any other year Tua could rest on his laurels and call it a year. He could throw the ball into the stands 27 times in a row and still have a better completion percentage than 2017 Baker Mayfield. That move would put him behind his biggest and only rival, Kyler Murray, who is also having a historic year for quarterbacking.

That’s the pressure that’s on Tua. If he goes down, or has a couple of bad games, Kyler Murray is right there with an MLB contract, some crazy stats, and just one loss to his name. The Heisman voter probably doesn’t want to give consecutive trophies to Oklahoma quarterbacks, which gives Tua some security, but it’s not a guarantee.

Alabama/LSU Could Change Everything

The one thing Tua lacks in his Heisman campaign is a signature win. The Tide have perhaps blown everyone out too easily for his liking, and a big win over a tough opponent would probably lock it up for Tua. LSU could be that win.

Playing LSU in Death Valley is perhaps the toughest game in college football, and a great performance there could seal things up for Tua.

Playing LSU in Death Valley is perhaps the toughest game in college football, and a great performance there could seal things up for Tua. The recipe is all there: Joe Burrow slings the ball enough to keep things interesting. LSU’s defensive front can and will challenge Tua on the ground. A cornerback called “Greedy Williams” will be there. It will be excellent.

This could be the game that makes Tua’s year. It could also be the game that puts Kyler Murray on an almost equal footing with the Alabama quarterback. Either way it should be appointment viewing.

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