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College Football Expert: Alabama 'Has To Start' Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up on the field prior to the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium.

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 25: Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up on the field prior to the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Right now, Tua Tagovailoa is widely considered the favorite to start at Alabama. There is a serious question about the time frame with which a decision will be made by Nick Saban, but based on the national championship, it seems like Alabama has a higher ceiling with him under center.

A quarterback with Jalen Hurts's resume losing a battle would be pretty much unheard of though.

After winning the job from Blake Barnett as a freshman in 2016, Hurts has lost two games as a starter in total: to Clemson in that year's national championship, and to Auburn in the 2017 Iron Bowl.

Now, Georgia might have made that three, had Saban not subbed in Tagovailoa. Still, it seems extremely premature to totally count out Hurts.

Jalen Hurts does have a few college football experts behind him in the last few days.

Not everyone in the college football world is prepared to hand the job over to Tagovailoa. On Friday, USA Today handicapper and college football analyst Danny Sheridan joined The Paul Finebaum Show.

He has Alabama making the College Football Playoff once again, for the fifth year in a row. He also thinks that the team "has to" start Hurts on the way there.

Sheridan's not alone. Earlier in the week, ESPN's Trevor Matich was less confident, but still argued that Hurts should be taken very seriously as a contender to start.

He and Ivan Maisel spoke appeared at the DEX Imaging/Reese's Senior Bowl 24th annual L'Arche Football Preview in Mobile this week. From AL.com:

"The thing is I'm not quite as certain as some other people that Tua is going to be the guy," Matich said. "I'm pretty sure he'll be the guy. What I am certain of is whoever plays at that position, Alabama will have something they haven't had in a while, and that is a credible, exciting deep passing game, because with Dan Enos as the quarterback coach, he legitimately is the quarterback whisperer. If anybody can draw that aspect of the game out of Jalen Hurts, he can do it. But if Jalen Hurts doesn't improve enough at that, then Tua will be the guy. One way or the other, either a vastly improved Jalen Hurts is throwing downfield or Tua Tagovailoa."

Nick Saban has hinted at the possibility of taking the quarterback competition into the regular season, as he has in a few recent seasons. With Tagovailoa's spring football injury, that seems like a pretty good bet.