How Many Points is Tua Tagovailoa Worth to a Spread? Assessing Alabama’s Outlook Without Him
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa
- Tua Tagovailoa left Alabama's win over Tennessee with an ankle injury, and will be out a few weeks.
- The Tide face No. 2 LSU on Oct. 9, so it begs the question -- how much is Tua worth, and would the Tide even be favored at home against the Tigers without him?
- We break down each point spread in Alabama's remaining games and the likelihood of the Tide going unbeaten without him.
Alabama’s offense may have historically great skill position talent, but the drop-off from injured quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to Mac Jones is significant. There’s no Jalen Hurts to bail the Tide out now.
How significant? Our Collin Wilson, the gatekeeper of our college football power ratings, thinks Tua is worth about 7 points in relation to the spread. With his status still in question, Westgate in Las Vegas opened Alabama at -7 with the total at 64.
And the betting market seems to agree. The Tide have settled in as a 33-point favorite over Arkansas in Tuscaloosa last weekend after opening -35 in Las Vegas, while our power ratings (without adjusting for the injury) would make it about Alabama -40.
Corroborate our point spreads with Westgate’s Game of the Year lines and you’ll find pretty similar numbers, so if the Vegas book had listed Alabama vs. Arkansas, it would be around -40.
Tua injured his ankle against Tennessee on Oct. 19 and coach Nick Saban said his quarterback would be out “a week or two.” It’s the same injury he suffered in the SEC Championship Game last season, and he played 28 days later against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff.
If that week-or-two diagnosis is legitimate, the Tide would get Tua back for their pivotal game against LSU on Nov. 9. Without him, Alabama might be an underdog, or very close. They haven’t been a home dog since 2007 vs. LSU.
Here’s what Alabama’s point spreads would be with and without Tua for the remainder of the season.
Can Alabama Still Go Undefeated?
Of course. It’s Alabama.
But using our power ratings and projected point spreads as a guide, the Tide would have just a 30% chance of winning each of its last five games without Tua. Add in the SEC Championship Game (against Georgia, for argument’s sake), and it’s just 18%.
If Tua plays against LSU and beyond, the Tide’s chances of going unbeaten rise to 40%.
The ‘Drop-Off’ Is Key Here
The drop-off when a quarterback gets hurt has as much to do with the backup as anything, whether you’re talking about point spreads or just overall outlook.
The drop-off to Hurts — were he still with Alabama — might be miniscule.
But to Jones, a 3-star pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2017, the drop could be steep.
Jones went 6 of 11 for 72 yards against Tennessee, and has seen limited action in his time at Alabama.