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Kyler Murray, Not Tua Tagovailoa, is Having the Best Season in College Football

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Tech

Tua Tagovailoa is having an incredible season for the Alabama Crimson Tide, a season worthy of winning the Heisman Trophy and leading his team to the College Football Playoff and a National Championship. Right now, he is having statistically the second-most efficient season in NCAA history, which means in any other season he should be a runaway favorite for the award. The only catch to this is: the player that is having the most efficient season in NCAA history happens to be playing this season, and his name is Kyler Murray.

You know, the guy that went 42-0 in high school, and was the most sought-after quarterback prospect of all time? Yep. That guy. But it isn’t like you would even know, because the ESECPN-led media machine is basically pretending Kyler Murray isn’t having a better season than Tua. I will walk you through why Kyler Murray is not only having the better season, but why he should be the leader for the Heisman Trophy, and why a separation will shortly begin that will make this undeniable.

First let’s talk Tua and Kylers numbers:

Tua is 132/194 (68%) 2,361 yards (12.17 YPA) 27-1 TD-INT, 215.2 efficiency rating, 29 carries 172 yards (5.9 YPC) 3 TDs.

Murray is 154/218 (70.6%), 2,689 (12.33 YPA) 31-5 TD-INT, 216.6 efficiency rating, 82 carries, 574 yards (7 YPC) 7 TDs.

Now, when you see these initial numbers, you realize very quickly that Murray not only has better numbers in bulk (total/YPG/TD/G), but he also has better efficiency numbers outside of interception percentage. He has a higher TD%, higher overall rating, more yards per attempt and a higher completion percentage. Why this is important is because it shows that even if Kyler and Tua has the exact same number of passes, Murray’s numbers would be still be better assuming Tua stays the course on his efficiency.  

 
Now, when you look past the passing statistics, which Murray wins in all but one category, he is overwhelmingly superior to Tua in the rushing game. But what is more absurd is that Kyler Murray is on pace to be responsible for 59 touchdowns (assuming Oklahoma plays in the Big 12 title game), which would be a Power 5 record and set the new NCAA efficiency record. What Kyler Murray is doing is unheard of. He is projected to easily surpass what Lamar Jackson and Cam Newton did in 2016, and 2010 respectively. That’s how good he has been. In fact, there is a very good chance Kyler Murray will end up as the only player to ever throw for 4,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 in one season.

Now to play Devil’s Advocate, Tua has not played but in one 4th quarter, and because of that, it is very hard to gauge just how much better his statistics would be if he did. To be fair to Tagovailoa I will remove Murray’s fourth quarter numbers this season (he doesn’t record much in the fourth quarter either when Oklahoma is usually comfortably leading). But here are Murray’s passing numbers in the 4th quarter this season;  20/29 240 yards 3 TD passes, as such I will also remove Tua’s as well: 1/1 24 yards and we can now recalculate.

Tua 131/194 (67.8%) 2,337 yards (12.1 YPA), 27-1 214.7 efficiency rating

Murray 134/189 (70.9%) 2,468 yards (12.95 YPA), 28-5 223.3 efficiency rating

In other words, Oklahoma allowing Kyler Murray to stay in late in mostly blowout situations has actually cost him points in his efficiency. Tua not playing in the 4th quarter is hurting his bulk stats, but assisting his efficiency. So, Alabama fans, and other media members be careful what you say. Tua’s efficiency would be lower with Tua throwing passes to reserves late in blowouts.

Oh, right Oklahoma hasn’t played in all blow outs, have they? Okay. Let’s look at this: Murray’s numbers in overtime and the 4th quarter against Army, Texas Tech and Texas are 7/10 for 111 yards and 2-0 TD-INT which is an efficiency rating of 229.4.

 
But, but … Oklahoma plays in the Big 12 which means could you imagine if Tua got to play against Big 12 defenses, how much better his numbers would be? Hm, well let’s start with this attachment here showing what Tua and Kyler did against the best two efficiency defenses they have faced this year. I know its not close, but we can also go by averages. Oklahoma has faced three defenses ranked in the top 30 in total defense this year, Alabama, only one. What about in yards per play since we like efficiency? Oklahoma has played two defenses in the top 40 in opponents’ yards per play, Alabama has played zero. In fact, Oklahoma average opponent in yards per play is 76th, and Alabama’s is 93rd. What about total? Glad you asked, Oklahoma 71st, Alabama 75th. First and foremost, averages do not matter all that much, it’s about how many good defenses you have faced and how you’ve done against those, but in no measurable up to this point has Tua played better defensive teams than Kyler has, so that excuse is not there for the taking.

Good defenses, are coming for Tua, starting this weekend against Mississippi State, an SEC title game against Georgia, the Citadel (oh wait), and Auburn, while Murray is about to take on Kansas, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. What this tells me, is that Murray has already come out of his tougher defensive contests, and Tua is about to go smack dab into the meat of his.

Kyler Murray is about to not only separate, but likely separate by a fair margin statistically, down the home stretch of the season.

Both Tagovailoa and Murray are playing at a completely unprecedented level this season, and both would be runaway favorites if the other wasn’t playing in the same year, however this is likely going to down the stretch turn into the tightest Heisman race of all time. But if we are being fair, it’s Kyler Murray, not Tua Tagovailoa who has the current lead in the Heisman race. Of course, Tua has the ESPN hype machine and the love early on, and Kyler is still living in the shadow of Baker Mayfield, those things should not prevent Murray from pulling significantly into the lead statistically to a point that voters will no longer be able to ignore. 

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