Heisman watch: Tagovailoa should still be favorite, but Murray strengthens case

Heisman watch: Tagovailoa should still be favorite, but Murray strengthens case
Courtesy: Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A week ago, Tua Tagovailoa was the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. After Alabama’s 35-28 comeback victory over Georgia in the SEC title game, that still may be the case for the Crimson Tide signal-caller.

However, the comfortable lead he once had for college football’s most prestigious individual award appears to have taken a hit.

The key takeaways from Alabama's win are simple: 1) Alabama won, remain undefeated and are in the College Football Playoff. 2) Tagovailoa’s individual statistics over the course of the season are still very impressive.

But the Honolulu native’s numbers in today’s win over Georgia were, to say the least, the worst of his collegiate career.

Tagovailoa threw for 164 yards on 10-of-25 passing for one touchdown and two interceptions - the first multiple-interception game of Tagovailoa’s collegiate career.

If Tagovailoa was able to stay in the fourth quarter and finish off the comeback that he began, his Heisman case could have only grown stronger. Instead, he left injured with his team down 28-21 to the Bulldogs and opened the door for his backup, former SEC Offensive Player of the Year Jalen Hurts, to lead the charge down the stretch en route to victory.

It should be taken into account that Georgia boasts one of the premier defenses in all of college football, but expectations have been sky-high for Tagovailoa all-season long, and for good reason.

Through 12 games, Tagovailoa’s season stats are as follows: 3,353 yards, 42 total touchdowns (36 pass, 5 rush) and four interceptions.

Those numbers are impressive and are Heisman worthy. So what’s the problem? Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray had another stellar performance in the Big 12 title game against Texas prior to Alabama’s SEC title game and only added to Heisman resume.

Murray threw for 379 yards on 25-of-34 passing, three touchdowns and zero turnovers. On the season, Murray has 4,053 passing yards, 51 total touchdowns (40 pass, 11 rush) and seven interceptions.

At the end of the day, Heisman voters will have to consider a few things. For one, Tagovailoa rarely played in the fourth quarter this season and never had to finish a game due to his team being so far ahead on the scoreboard. Secondly, the SEC has better defensive opposition than the Big 12, which is notorious for its gaudy offensive showcases.

The Heisman Trophy picture is a little murkier than it was going into today’s set of conference title games, and the only thing that is clear is that it’s a two-horse race between Tagovailoa and Murray.

What remains to be seen is if the voters use Tagovailoa’s underwhelming performance against Georgia against him while at the same time.

The Heisman Trophy will be presented to a winner next Saturday in New York City. Hawaii News Now will have live coverage on all platforms beginning Thursday, December 6th.

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