After a rocky first half of football from the Alabama offense, Nick Saban isn’t messing around in the second half. True freshman Tua Tagovailoa has replaced Jalen Hurts at quarterback as the second half is underway in Atlanta.
Hurts was 3-of-8 for 21 yards and rushed six times for a team-high 47 yards in the first half. Hurts picked up 31 of those yards on one play. After Alabama was shut out by the Georgia defense in the first half, and with Alabama trailing 13-0, this is out of the ordinary for Saban under these conditions. Saban has never shied away from playing multiple quarterbacks to try and figure out who is the best option to run with, but that typically happens in the beginning of the season, not the end.
Tagovailoa was a four-star recruit out of Hawaii for Alabama in the Class of 2017. Rivals ranked him the third among dual-threat quarterbacks in the recruiting class. After completing one pass for two yards, Alabama’s offense went three-and-out to start the second half.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley was held in check for much of the afternoon on Saturday by Northwestern, but that wasn’t enough to change Barkley’s Heisman odds this week. The latest Heisman Trophy odds form Bovada held firm with the 5/4 odds placed on Barkley last week, which keeps him atop the Heisman board for now.
The most notable development in the Heisman odds this week may be the rise of Stanford running back Bryce Love. Love rocketed up the board this week by going from 14/1 odds last week to 4/1 odds this week. The only two players ahead of Love right now are Barkley and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. After a home loss to Iowa State, Mayfield’s Heisman odds moved from 9/4 to 13/4.
Love leads the nation with 206.67 yards per game and is the only running back in the nation to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark so far. Love leads the nation with 1,240 rushing yards, which is roughly 240 yards than the next leading running back, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny. For reference, Barkley’s rushing total stands at 649 yards, although Barkley’s all-purpose yardage adds up to 1,302 yards, which is ahead of Love’s all-purpose yardage so far.
Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, saw his odds dip from 10/1 to 16/1 after a road loss at NC State on Thursday night.
Lane Kiffin may have been shown the door from the Alabama football program after accepting the job of head coach at FAU, but that has not stopped Kiffin from attaching himself to the Jalen Hurts bandwagon.
After Hurts and Alabama improved to 4-0 in dominating fashion with another blowout over a SEC opponent, Kiffin went online to share his support for Hurts as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
This is hardly surprising, as Kiffin stands to benefit from any success Hurts has even at a different school. Kiffin was a key recruiter in Alabama’s pursuit of signing Hurts out of Texas (Bo Davis was reportedly influential in the recruiting process as well). If Hurts thrives, Kiffin is able to ell the idea he landed a top-tier player when he is on the recruiting trail looking for his next recruit. Of course, to be fair, Alabama was already a powerhouse before Kiffin’s arrival in Tuscaloosa under Nick Saban and they remain a dominant force without him so far. But for a coach looking to make some noise at FAU, you look for every edge you can get, and playing a role in luring Hurts to Alabama is an easy sales pitch to make.
Hurts is the SEC’s third-leading rusher with 461 yards and four touchdowns. He is also the only quarterback in the SEC without an interception thrown this season. Although his passing numbers have not been overly impressive at a glance, it should be recognized Alabama has not needed much out of the passing game. Alabama’s rushing offense is the top running game in the nation that doesn’t run an option-based offense (Navy, Georgia Tech, and Army lead the nation in rushing offense) with an average of 315.6 rushing yards per game.
Meanwhile, FAU is off to a 2-3 start and 1-0 in Conference USA with the conference’s second highest-scoring offense.
Coming off a monster performance against Iowa, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is now the new leader in the clubhouse for the Heisman Trophy, according to Bovada at least.
Bovada’s weekly updated Heisman odds put Barkley atop the Heisman board with 7/4 odds. He moves ahead of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, USC quarterback Sam Darnold, and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville, and separates himself from Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Barkley has rushed for 518 yards with four rushing touchdowns in the first four weeks of the season. That alone would not be worthy of such high Heisman praise, of course, but Barkley has shown how good he is by contributing to the Penn State passing game. Barkley currently leads the Big Ten with 23 receptions and a conference-leading 335 receiving yards. Barkley has also added some yards on special teams returns, although he has not broken loose for a significant kickoff return just yet.
Barkley is not the only running back moving up Bovada’s board, however. Stanford running back Bryce Love went from 66/1 up to 33/1 following a big performance against UCLA. LOve is currently the nation’s leading rusher.
Two players were dropped from the Bovada board this week. Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins went from having 25/1 odds last week to off the board this week. I’m not entirely sure why Dobbins fell off the map so quickly, but he’ll have a chance to pop back on the board in the coming weeks. LSU running back Derrius Guice also fell off the board this week after having 50/1 odds last week.
Vanderbilt came into the afternoon with the SEC’s top-ranked scoring defense. Yeah, about that…
No. 1 Alabama scored touchdowns on three straight offensive possessions to build a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and the Crimson Tide lead the Commodores 31-0 at halftime in Nashville. Bo Scarbrough was responsible for two of the Alabama touchdowns, and Damien Harris has take credit for the other two. Jalen Hurts has even gotten in on the running game a little bit while not having the pressure to perform through the air in this one.
On defense, Alabama has held Vanderbilt down quite well too. The Commodores converted just one of six third down situations and the Vandy offense has lost the football twice by way of a fumble.
If you had hoped Vanderbilt could maybe keep this one interesting for at least a half, you were out of luck. Alabama is about to cruise its way to a 4-0 record.