QB Rivalry: Tua Tagovailoa vs Kyler Murray

Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray have a fun history against each other, both on and off the field. Off the field, these were the top two vote getters for the Heisman Trophy in 2018, a result that surprised many people. Since that award was given out, they have faced each other twice – once in college, once in NFL.

Chapter 1 – 2018 Heisman Voting

Murray received 517 first place votes, while Tagovailoa received 299. It was close, but after Tagovailoa dominated the first two months, Murray elevated his game to another level for the final month.

Final stats

  • Tagovailoa – 3,996 yards, 43 TD, 6 INT
  • Murray – 4,361 yards, 42 TD, 7 INT

Both men finished ahead of Dwayne Haskins he threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdown passes.

Why Murray won?

Threw 8 games, Tua did not throw an interception. He finally did in game 9 against LSU. Following that game, is when the momentum shifted from Tua to Murray.

The following week, Tua got roughed up a bit against Mississippi State. He completed just 14-21 passes for only 164 yards. That same day, Murray completed 21-29 passes for 349 yards and a TD in a rivalry game against Oklahoma State.

11/17 is a wash. Tua dominated The Citadel, while Murray dominated against Kansas. Murray threw for 2 TDs and ran for 3. Tua threw for 3 and ran for 1. Kansas and Citadel are both low level teams.

On 11/24, Tua threw 5 TDs and ran for 1 against Auburn. Murray threw for 3 TDs and ran for 1 against West Virginia.

Now we get to championship weekend, and this is where the tide turned… Tua threw 2 interceptions in the first half and did not play in the second after being injured. Jalen Hurts came off the bench and led Alabama to a come-from-behind victory. In the Big 12 title game, Murray helped Oklahoma avenge their only loss (against Texas), by throwing for 379 yards and 3 TDs

Over the final 4 games, Tua threw 10 TDs, 3 INT, ran for 2. Murray threw 9 TDs, 2 INTs, ran for 4. But Tua suffered a pair of injuries and Murray had that lasting impression that helped seal the deal.

Chapter 2 – 2018 Orange Bowl

12/29/2018 – Tua and Alabama beat Kyler and Oklahoma 45-34.

The Tide led 21-0 after the first quarter and 28-0 just 17 minutes into the game.

Tua completed 24 of 27 passes and threw 4 touchdowns. All 4 went to current or future NFL stars – Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs (both first round picks in 2020), Joshua Jacobs, and DeVonta Smith.

On the other side, Murray only completed 19 of 37 passes, and threw for 308 yards and 2 TDs. Neither QB turned the ball over. Murray also ran for 109 yards and a TD. His 109 rushing yards led the team by a significant margin (RB Kennedy Brooks had 35 yards).

Chapter 3 – Dolphins vs Cardinals (2020)

11/8/2020 – Tua and Dolphins beat Kyler and Cardinals 34-31

This was a really fun game between two upstart teams in 2020.

  • Tagovailoa – 20-28, 248 yards, 2 TDs
  • Murray – 21-26, 283 yards, 3 TDs, plus 106 yards rushing, 1 TD

This was just Tua’s third career NFL start and first on the road.

After trailing 31-24 entering the fourth quarter, Dolphins outscored the Cardinals 10-0 to win 34-31. A 10 play drive that started towards the end of the third quarter, culminated with an 11 yard TD pass from Tua to Mack Hollins. Kicker James Sanders hit a 50 yard field goal with 3 minutes to go to give the Dolphins the lead. Cardinals missed a field goal of their own from 49 yards.

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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