It’s no longer a matter of if, but rather by how much.
Tua Tagovailoa entered Week 10 an overwhelming wagering favorite to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy, with Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray serving as the only player with even a remote chance of catching the Alabama quarterback.
The last two games, though, showed the super sophomore, dealing with a nagging knee issue, wasn’t Superman as he completed just 55 and 65 percent of his passes in wins over Missouri and Tennessee; prior to that, he had a completion percentage below 70 percent just once in his first six games as starter — 68.4 against Arkansas State in Week 2. Add in facing his first “real” test of the season in the form of No. 3 LSU and playing the formidable Tigers in Death Valley, and it was thought that this was the perfect storm for Tagovailoa to come back to the pack.
Instead of coming back, it was Tagovailoa putting further distance between himself and the rest of a shrinking Heisman field; hell, he may have lapped them. Twice. Yes, he threw his first interception of the season. Statistically, it wasn’t his best game of the season — far from it, actually.
What stood out most Saturday night, above most anything found on the postgame stat sheet, was Tagovailoa’s pose and composure in the face of one of the most hostile environments in college football, and in a game dripping with SEC and playoff implications. Well, that and the 44-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter that broke the Tigers’ collective backs and showed off some impressive wheels in the process.
Yes, there are still three weeks left in the regular season, plus championship weekend, before Heisman voters have to submit their ballots. Yes, it’s entirely possible the knee issue that flared up at the end of that touchdown run could bloom into a full-blown medical Armageddon. Yes, it’s entirely possible that Nick Saban, in an effort to mix things up generally and mess with the media specifically, could go back to Jalen Hurts as his starter.
Silly, right? Yep, just as silly as anyone thinking that somebody other than Tua will be front and center in New York City when mid-December rolls around. The husky female has not only been singing, but she’s on her way back to the stage for an encore.
Just like it was around this time last year with Baker Mayfield, it’s over. Put a fork in it. It’s done.
The only drama left? Whether Tagovailoa will challenge the record for largest margin of victory in Heisman Trophy history.