When Tua Tagovailoa started limping around Mercedes-Benz Stadium during the SEC Championship game, you could hear the entire state of Alabama let out a collective gasp. The Alabama Crimson Tide’s star quarterback — the one who delivered them a national title and could win the Heisman Trophy this year — couldn’t possibly be hurt at a time like this, right?
Early in the fourth quarter, after already struggling to move around, Tagovailoa’s injured ankle was stepped on during an incomplete pass, and he remained down on the turf in Atlanta for a few minutes. The Tide were being pummeled by a Georgia Bulldogs team that showed up ready to knock off the kings of college football. However, they forgot about one thing — Alabama’s backup quarterback had been waiting for this moment since January 8, 2018.
After being supplanted by Tagovailoa during last year’s national championship game, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts went from a 26-2 starter to the garbage-time insurance policy for Tua, but that didn’t stop him from staying in Tuscaloosa, trusting in his faith, and etching his name into the hearts and minds of Alabama football fans forever.
Trailing 28-21, Hurts entered the SEC title game in the fourth quarter and put on a show for the ages. The junior quarterback led Alabama on two scoring drives during their final two possessions of the game, capping the night with a 15-yard rushing touchdown with just over one minute left to win it for the Crimson Tide.
Hurts finished the game 7 of 9 passing for 82 yards and a 10-yard touchdown to Jerry Jeudy, plus another five carries for 28 yards and the game-winning score.
On a night where Tagovailoa had the worst game of his career — throwing two interceptions in a game for the first time ever — and finished with Nathan Peterman-esque 15.1 quarterback rating, Hurts rallied the Tide to another conference title. He did it all with Tua cheering him on from the sidelines.
If you went to Hollywood with a script like this, you’d be laughed out of the building because it seemed so ridiculous.
“It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a long year. I can look back after the  National Championship game, and I’m in the hotel room with my parents, my brother, and my sister. I’m in my parents’, my mom and dad’s arms, crying. I look up at my dad and say, ‘What are we going to do now?’
“He told me, he looked me in my eyes and told me, ‘We’re going to fight.’
“I’ve been fighting for a year, not knowing what the result would be. Competing. Keeping faith. And you know, God was with me yesterday.” — Jalen Hurts, via ESPN
For someone who was a Heisman Trophy candidate prior to the start of last season to come full circle like this is an incredible, real-life story, and I’d go watch the Jalen Hurts movie over any of these Hollywood stories of redemption.
5. Rocky IV
Remember that scene with Rocky Balboa standing on top of that mountain in Russia yelling, “DRAGO?” The scene with Hurts in his hotel room after winning the national title, and not knowing about his future, would trump this entire movie, and it’s not even close.
4. The Longest Yard
Paul Crewe had to go to jail and get help from a bunch of his friends to beat a semi-professional football team. Jalen Hurts just knocked off arguably the second-best team in college football, the same team that knocked him out of the starting job a year earlier, and he did it on national television.
3. Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
Luke Skywalker took on an aging Darth Vader, who had to step in and save him from the Emperor. Plus, without Han Solo, Princess Leia, and the rest of those little bear-people taking down the Death Star’s shield, none of Luke’s heroics would even matter in this story of redemption. I’ll take Jalen Hurts over a Jedi any day.
Call it controversial if you want, but I’m not going to give Rudy Ruettiger’s two plays for Notre Dame the edge. Plus, when his only significant statistic is a sack on the very last play to end a 24-3 win, he’s not going to get the nod over Hurts on this day.
1. The Karate Kid
Redemption story? Sure. But would I rather have the Crane kick on a broken leg over Hurts’ game-winning touchdown run? Not a chance. Sorry, Mr. Miyagi, the real karate master in this movie is none other than Nick Saban.