Alabama players still believe their quarterback is the nation’s best player and they intend to back it up on Dec. 29 in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
However, the frustration stemming from Tua Tagovailoa finishing as the Heisman runner-up to Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray has subsided.
Initially when the news was revealed, the hashtag #Dec29 was trending in Birmingham, referring to a revenge factor.
Dec 29 it’s up✊🏾
— Isaiah D. Buggs (@BigPooh_91) December 9, 2018
Now that they’re clear of the rat poison though, the main focus for the No. 1 Crimson Tide (13-0) shifts to letting their play do the talking when they face the No. 4 Sooners (12-1) in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
The winner advances to the CFP national championship game against the winner of the Cotton Bowl matchup between No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame.
“I mean, we don’t vote on it. People who vote on it, they voted for him to win. So, I can’t really have an opinion about it. Obviously you want your teammates to be successful, you want your teammates to win awards,” An Alabama player said to AL.com. “But I think that he’d tell you and we’d all tell you the award we care about the most is in January with the national championship. That’s kind of what our mindset is.”
This edition of the Orange Bowl is slated as the seventh time a Heisman runner-up will square off against the winner in a bowl game, according to SB Nation. The most recent meeting was the 2005 BCS national title game (Rose Bowl) which pitted Texas’ Vince Young against Heisman winner Reggie Bush of USC.
The junior Murray has amassed 4,053 yards with 40 touchdowns (seven interceptions) through the air and 892 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
The sophomore Tagovailoa has tallied 3,352 yards with 37 touchdowns (four interceptions) as a passer while rushing for five touchdowns.
Murray and the nation’s No. 1 offense for scoring and total yardage will vie against Alabama’s No. 9 total defense.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) December 14, 2018
Tagovailoa is working towards a return after sustaining a high-ankle sprain two weeks ago in the SEC title game vs. Georgia. If Tagovailoa isn’t ready, capable backup Jalen Hurts will get the nod.
Alabama safety Deionte Thompson emphasized that the team isn’t carrying a grudge into their biggest game of the season.
“I wouldn’t say it helps motivate us because if you’re not motivated to play in the playoffs then I don’t even think you should be around,” Thompson said to AL.com. “The Heisman Trophy ceremony, that was the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Going into this game, I don’t think it will matter much. He had a hell of a season. He did very good, that’s why he was awarded with the Heisman. But I don’t think it will have much going into the game.”
Alabama running back Josh Jacobs offered his unbiased take on the subject.
“Of course, I was rooting for him because he plays on my team,” Jacobs said to AL.com. “But Kyler Murray has had an awesome season. He’s put up some crazy numbers. So, I don’t want to take that away from him, so congratulations for that.”