College football 2019: Which teams will test Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence?

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throws during a team scrimmage on Aug. 3.
(Associated Press)

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa put together some amazing numbers last year. In his first season as the starter, he completed 69% of his passes for 3,966 yards and 43 touchdowns with just six interceptions.

But those jaw-dropping stats don’t even tell the full story of Tagovailoa’s historically dominant season. A better exercise is to consider all the passes he didn’t throw last season.

You see, it was November before Tagovailoa attempted a pass in the fourth quarter. November!

Imagine the numbers he would have put up if he and the Crimson Tide weren’t building such insurmountable leads every week.

Tagovailoa lost the Heisman Trophy to Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, who was constantly having to pull out late-game heroics to win Big 12 shootouts.


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Aug. 1, 2019

This season, Tagovailoa is likely to have the same issue. Hey, it’s a good problem to have, and 129 other programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision would love to have it.
Expect Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence to join Tagovailoa in the Fourth Quarter Clipboard Club quite often this year too.

It’s worth a look ahead at Alabama’s and Clemson’s schedules to see which games will actually demand they put in some work in the final 15 minutes. Maybe it’s selfish, but wouldn’t it be nice to see the Heisman frontrunners actually have some memorable Heisman moments?

It shouldn’t take long for Lawrence to have to flex in some late-game situations. Texas A&M visits Sept. 7, then the Tigers travel the next week to Syracuse, where the Carrier Dome will host its biggest game since the Donovan McNabb days.

Clemson's Trevor Lawrence throws during the first half of the College Football Playoff title game against Alabama in January.
(Associated Press)

If Lawrence is able to rest in those fourth quarters, that would be a sure sign the Tigers are headed for another College Football Playoff.


How far will Tagovailoa make it without playing in a fourth quarter in 2019?

South Carolina would like to think he will Sept. 14 in Columbia, but we’ll call that a tossup. Can the Gamecocks keep it within three scores entering the fourth?

Alabama’s game at Texas A&M on Oct. 12 is a sure bet to get wild.

Crimson Tide fans hoping to see Tagovailoa play in a fourth quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium can mark their calendars for Louisiana State on Nov. 9, but even that is no sure thing — Alabama crushed LSU 29-0 in Baton Rouge last year.

Here’s what we do know: Tagovailoa is likely to play the whole game in the Iron Bowl at Auburn on Nov. 30. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take the entire season.