Tua wins Heis­man by beat­ing elite ‘D’

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - Doug Se­grest

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Topranked Al­abama clinched a per­fect 12-0 start only af­ter an anx­ious 30 min­utes.

But the ghosts that have haunted Auburn all sea­son against top-tier teams re­turned in time to see Tua Tago­v­ailoa move a step closer to the Heis­man Tro­phy.

Al­abama’s quar­ter­back turned on the big-play magic, throw­ing for four sec­ond-half touch­downs. Thanks to Auburn’s de­fense, he had to make a fourth-quar­ter cameo. But Auburn’s prob­lems of 2018 — drops by re­ceivers, lack of a con­sis­tent run­ning game, a bread-and­but­ter offense that can’t pro­duce big-play magic of its own — were too much to over­come.

The ques­tion fac­ing the Tigers: Where do they go from here? A 7-5 record isn’t the ex­pec­ta­tion when your head coach, Gus Malzahn, is among the sport’s top five earn­ers.

There is no guar­an­tee 2019 will be any bet­ter.

Al­abama’s di­rec­tion, which pre­sum­ably in­cludes a re­turn to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off, is more cer­tain. Tough to ar­gue against that.

The Heis­man Tro­phy ar­gu­ment against Tago­v­ailoa is also a strong case.

While Ok­la­homa’s Kyler Mur­ray and West Vir­ginia’s Will Grier put on one of the all-time great offen­sive dis­plays in Ok­la­homa’s 59-56 win. Mur­ray threw for 364 yards and three touch­downs and ran for 114 yards and a TD, while Grier passed for 539 yards and four TDs, but each de­fense has proved por­ous. Tago­v­ailoa went off against a bat­tle-tested Auburn de­fense, which still en­tered the week ranked No. 19 in scor­ing de­fense (19.6 points al­lowed per game).

His final num­bers were stel­lar: 25 of 32 pass­ing for 324 yards and five touch­downs, plus an­other score on the ground. He also has zero losses.

End of de­bate. The only drama left should fo­cus on what he wears at the Dec. 8 cer­e­mony in New York.

JOHN DAVID MERCER/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Al­abama’s Tua Tago­v­ailoa threw for 324 yards and five TDs and ran for a TD against Auburn.

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