One thing we’ll learn when the Heisman Trophy winner is announced tonight is whether an injury becomes a too-bad-so-sad scenario.
Critical question: was the Heisman race close before a full-on surgical sprain to his left ankle early in the SEC Championship Game rendered Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa sub-par in the last game before votes were due?
Oddsmakers say the race swung on conference-championship weekend. A healthy Kyler Murray accounted for 418 total yards and three touchdowns as Oklahoma beat Texas on Saturday. As of Monday morning, his odds of winning the Heisman flipped from +300 to -160, making him the favorite, according to OddsShark.
A hobbled Tagovailoa, who hit on just 10 of 25 passes for 164 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions against one of the nation’s top pass defenses, swung from -400 to +300.
The final weekend changed something, and injury played a role for Tagovailoa. Alabama trainers tended to his foot/ankle issue in the first quarter, and he remained in the game until another injury to his right foot took him out of the game in the fourth. Alabama turned to Jalen Hurts, who produced a storyline finish in rallying the Crimson Tide from a 28-21 deficit to a 35-28 victory.
Never mind the question of whether one game should outweigh an entire season’s body of work. Nick Saban-era Alabama went from scary on defense to just as scary on offense this season, and Tagovailoa’s golden arm changed Saban’s offensive approach.
As Alabama tore through its first 12 games, real talk had the school that produced Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks Bart Starr, Ken Stabler and Joe Namath sized up for a its first Heisman-winning quarterback.
Should one injury-affected performance in the 13th game change all of that?
We’ll find out what the Heisman electorate had to say about that tonight.