Debate is done, Tua just won the Heisman against legit defense

Doug Segrest
Special to the Advertiser

TUSCALOOSA  —  The mismatch was in talent, not in heart. After halftime, heart wasn’t enough.

Top-ranked 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.

Tagovailoa turned on the big-play magic, throwing for four second-half touchdowns. Thanks to Auburn’s defense, at least, he had to make a fourth-quarter cameo.

More:Alabama shows its focused on rewriting history, not reliving it

But Auburn’s problems of 2018 — drops by receivers, lack of a consistent running game, a bread-and-butter offense that can’t produce big-play magic of its own — proved too much to overcome.

More:Special teams, trick plays help and hurt Auburn in Iron Bowl loss at Alabama

The question facing the Tigers: Where do they go from here? A 7-5 record isn’t the expectation when your head coach is among college football’s top five earners. A bowl win can salve only some wounds.

There is no guarantee 2019 will be any better.

Alabama’s direction is more certain. First, an SEC Championship Game showdown with Georgia next week then, presumably, a return to the College Football Playoff. While Auburn needs to think of the future, Alabama’s thoughts are on the here and now.

There will be hand-wringing if Alabama stumbles in Atlanta. But can anyone provide a legitimate argument that the Crimson Tide, over the course of an entire season, aren't one of the four best teams?

More:Montgomery's Ruggs shines in battle against instate rival

Still waiting …

The Heisman Trophy argument has even less merit.

While Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and West Virginia’s Will Grier put on one of the all-time great offensive displays Friday against stalwart Big 12 defenses, Tagovailoa just went off against a battle-tested Auburn defense.

His final numbers were stellar: 25-of-32 passing for 324 yards and five touchdowns, plus another score on the ground.

End of debate.

The only drama left should focus on what he wears two weeks from now in New York.