History of Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa Before Thursday Matchup
The first two quarterbacks drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft square off during Thursday Night Football for the first time since college.
The game dubbed the "Game of the Century" showcased No. 2 ranked LSU face No. 3 ranked Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 9, 2019. However, this was not the first time Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow would clash.
Despite entering college two years later than Burrow, Tagovailoa made a more immediate impact at the collegiate level. Tagovailoa connected with DeVonta Smith on the infamous 2nd and 26 play to lead Alabama to a comeback win against Georgia in the 2018 National Championship.
Tagovailoa and Burrow first clashed in 2018, where both quarterbacks earned the starting job for the first time. Burrow had a much longer road to becoming a collegiate starter, as he spent the first three years of college at Ohio State as a backup before transferring to LSU.
In the first matchup, Tua outperformed Burrow in Death Valley, throwing for nearly 300 yards and scoring three touchdowns in a 29-0 win over LSU. Tua ran for a 44-yard touchdown run, which at the time was thought to be his Heisman moment.
Despite finishing second in the Heisman, Tua and Alabama were the heavy favorites against Burrow and LSU heading into their 2019 matchup. Alabama had not lost in Bryant-Denny since 2015 and were 8-0 facing an undefeated LSU team.
Tua had a loaded amount of weapons including DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and Najee Harris. However, Burrow had Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
The game started rough for Tua, but hot for Burrow. Tua fumbled in the red zone on the first drive and Burrow responded with a touchdown to give LSU an early lead. Burrow expanded the lead to two scores, but Tua never let LSU get too big of a lead.
After Edwards-Helaire scored in the last 30 seconds of the first half, Tua threw an interception and Burrow threw his third touchdown of the game, giving LSU a comfortable 33-13 lead at halftime.
Alabama kept Burrow quiet in the third quarter and managed to score two touchdowns, bringing the score to 33-27. Whenever Alabama thought they were back in the game, Burrow and LSU responded quickly. In the final five minutes of the game, Alabama and LSU traded scores so the game was 46-34 LSU, with one minute remaining.
With all hope of winning gone, Tua threw an 85-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith on the first play of the drive, reminding everyone Tua could comeback from any lead or obstacle he faced, but Alabama was unable to recover an onside kick and LSU defeated Alabama in the "Game of the Century".
Burrow did what Tua was unable to do as a starter, win a Heisman and a National Championship. Burrow's 2019 campaign broke nearly every single-season record held by quarterbacks in the collegiate history.
The Cincinnati Bengals selected Joe Burrow with the first pick in the 2020 Draft. The Miami Dolphins selected Tua Tagovailoa four picks later. Tua and Burrow struggled to establish themselves as franchise worthy quarterbacks as rookies.
The 2021 season was a replica almost of the 2019 collegiate seasons for both quarterbacks. The Bengals were predicted to finish last in their division, but Burrow led them to the Super Bowl. Tua established himself as a starter, but was sidelined with injuries for a long period of time.
From last year until now, everything has flipped. Burrow and the Bengals are 1-2, while Tua and the Dolphins are 3-0. After a remarkable 2021 season, Burrow has not started the season to the expectations of Bengals fans.
On Thursday, the Bengals and the Dolphins play in Cincinnati at 7:15 p.m. CT on Amazon Prime.