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Tua Tagovailoa can snatch the Heisman with a marquee game this week

Brian Pride - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Even after getting hurt against Tennessee and missing the matchup versus Arkansas, Tua Tagovailoa remains alive and well in this year’s Heisman Trophy race. 

As we dive into Week 11 of the college football season, the games that have many implications on the line are about to happen. While three top-20 matchups occur this week, all eyes will be locked onto a top-five contest at Bryant-Denny Stadium between Alabama and LSU. 

RELATED: Alabama remains at No. 2 in AP Poll ahead of first CFB Playoff Rankings

For national media, Joe Burrow is the leader in the clubhouse for the Heisman. 

The transfer from Ohio State is having a great season at LSU, as he leads the top-ranked Tigers into hostile territory. Ever the competitor, Tagovailoa looks to play in this game.

Nick Saban showed much gamesmanship last week, in terms of hiding the junior from the media, but he’s expected to play if he can perform his role.

The race for the 2015 Heisman Trophy was between Derrick Henry (Alabama) and Leonard Fournette (LSU) and while Fournette received all the attention in the buildup, it was Henry that won the award with a massive game versus LSU. 

Listed below are the top five candidates for the Heisman this week, courtesy of yours truly via Touchdown Alabama Magazine. 

1. Joe Burrow, LSU – Quarterback 

He is not only regarded as the Heisman favorite, but if Joe Burrow can defeat Alabama, many NFL Draft pundits will be willing to make him the No. 1 signal caller for the 2020 venue. 

The 6-foot-4, 216-pounder is second in the nation in both passing yards (2,805) and touchdown passes (30), while being first in the Southeastern Conference in both categories.

Burrow carries the nation’s fourth-ranked scoring offense (46.8 ppg) and third-ranked total offense (535.9 ypg). 

He has a chance to deliver the Tigers its first win over the Tide in nine tries.  

2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama – Quarterback 

He was having a Heisman-winning season, until suffering an ankle injury versus Tennessee. 

Tua Tagovailoa did not play against Arkansas; however, it can all be erased with a virtuoso performance at home this week. According to Saban and his teammates, Tagovailoa was in positive spirits throughout last week and is doing everything possible to play against LSU. 

He carries the nation’s second-highest scoring offense (48.6 ppg) and eighth-best total offense (506.6 ypg).

Tagovailoa has completed 74.8 percent of his throws (151-for-202 passing) for 2,211 passing yards with 27 scoring tosses to two interceptions.

He holds almost every significant passing record for the Crimson Tide.  

3. Justin Fields, Ohio State – Quarterback 

It has two primetime matchups left on its regular season schedule, but Justin Fields has Ohio State poised for a Big Ten Championship and a spot in this year’s College Football Playoff. 

Since his decision to transfer from Georgia to the Buckeyes, the former five-star has been remarkable in Ryan Day’s offense. He does not make a lot of mistakes, as he guides the nation’s third-highest scoring offense (48.3 ppg) and sixth-best total offense (514.8 ypg). Fields had just one interception to 33 total touchdowns (24 passing) through eight regular season games. 

4. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma – Quarterback 

Regardless of a tough loss to Kansas State, Jalen Hurts has done wonders for Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma on offense. He has the Sooners with the nation’s best scoring offense (49.3 ppg) and total offense (598.4 ypg), despite it having one loss. Hurts has a completion percentage of 74 percent, while accounting for 3,270 yards (801 rushing) with 34 scores to three interceptions. 

Oklahoma will need help if it wants to make the CFP and in today’s age of college football, unpredictable things are bound to happen. 

5. Chase Young, Ohio State – Defensive End 

He has single-handedly destroyed offenses all year. 

Chase Young has Ohio State with arguably the best defense in college football, allowing 7.9 points (first in NCAA) and 224.3 yards (second in NCAA) per game. The junior defensive end chimes in with an NCAA-best 13.5 sacks, while leading the Buckeyes in tackles for loss (15.5) and has five forced fumbles.

Young projects as the top defensive lineman for next year’s draft and is sitting as the potential No. 1 overall pick.

However, the biggest thing for defensive players in terms of the Heisman is their ability to contribute to scoring points. If Young can record a couple of pick-sixes or maybe return a few fumbles for touchdowns, his name will be regarded more in the conversation.

As it stands, he needs to at least be considered. 

Guys still in the Hunt

Justin Herbert, Oregon – Quarterback 

J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State – Running Back 

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin – Running Back 

Brock Purdy, Iowa State – Quarterback 

Sage Surratt, Wake Forest – Wide Receiver 

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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