Enter Hurts, who led Alabama to the national title game as a freshman but lost the starting job to Tagovailoa. The replacement threw three touchdown passes, including a 41-yarder in overtime that gave the Tide a stunning 26-23 victory.
Just a year ago, Hurts was benched at halftime during the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship and Tua Tagovailoa took the field.
A slow build has given way to a resounding finish, flipping the Heisman Trophy conversation on its head and giving the nation plenty to talk about in the lead-up to the College Football Playoff.
After the game, Alabama coach Nick Saban discussed his quarterback's performance with CBS' Jamie Erdahl during his postgame interview and seemed to be choked up, showing a rare side of emotion.
"I know at Alabama, there's always an opportunity to win", Hurts said.
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Hurts appeared in 10 of Alabama's 12 regular season games as a backup and threw for 673 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions on 43 of 58 passing, while also recording 139 yards and one touchdown on 29 rushing attempts. "I'm so happy. Happy for everybody".
Alabama received 62 first-place votes. There's no chance Alabama wins the SEC Championship Game if he does. "They've been doing it for a lot of years".
"(It's a) great comeback for our team", Saban added.
Dede Westbrook of the Oklahoma Sooners, Deshaun Watson of the Clemson Tigers, Jabrill Peppers of the Michigan Wolverines, Baker Mayfield of the Oklahoma Sooners and Lamar Jackson of the Louisville Cardinals pose for a photo with the Heisman trophy during a press conference prior to the 2016 Heisman Trophy Presentation at the Marriott Marquis on December 10, 2016 in New York City. The opponent could be Oklahoma, Ohio State, or maybe even Georgia.