One month ago, it looked like Tua Tagovailoa was going to suck all the intrigue out of the Heisman Trophy 2018 ceremony. Kyler Murray had other plans.
The Oklahoma quarterback has made a furious charge through the month of November to supplant his Alabama counterpart atop the betting odds for college football’s most prestigious award. Murray threw for 345 yards per game and scored 17 total touchdowns in his final five games, pushing the Sooners to the Big 12 championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff in the process. His dual-threat capabilities — he averaged 68 rushing yards per game while ripping off 7.2 yards per carry — have made him one of football’s most dangerous threats, even if he’s planning on leaving the sport behind in 2019.
Tagovailoa can’t match Murray’s raw stats, but that’s because he’s been the leader of a mostly drama-free Crimson Tide offense. Alabama won 12 of its 13 games by 22 points or more this fall, leaving the sophomore quarterback with few significant second half snaps. Even in relatively limited action, he still managed to record a sterling 37:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio while leading a program that maintained a death grip on the No. 1 spot in the rankings throughout the season.
Rounding out this year’s list of finalists is Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. The Buckeye passer’s first year as a starter saw him score 51 touchdowns (47 passing, four rushing) in a 12-1 campaign that included a Big Ten title. He’s a masterful passer who threw for 400+ yards in five different games, all coming after the start of October. But even those sterling numbers may not be enough for him to steal votes away from Murray and Tagovailoa on Saturday.
Time, TV channel info
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: New York City, N.Y.
Heisman Trophy news:
With the ceremony closing in, we truly don’t know who’s going to win. That hasn’t been true in years. The last time was … 2009?
Consider the number of first-place votes players have gotten since then, via Sports Reference:
2009: Mark Ingram 227, Toby Gerhart 222, Colt McCoy 203
2010: Cam Newton 729, Andrew Luck 78
2011: Robert Griffin III 405, Andrew Luck 247, Trent Richardson 138
2012: Johnny Manziel 474, Manti Te’o 321
2013: Jameis Winston 668, A.J. McCarron 79
2014: Marcus Mariota 788, Amari Cooper 49, Melvin Gordon 37
2015: Derrick Henry 378, Christian McCaffrey 290, Deshaun Watson 148
2016: Lamar Jackson 526, Watson 269
2017: Baker Mayfield 732, Bryce Love 75
The ‘09 race was really close. The ‘11, ‘12, ‘15, and ‘16 races weren’t routs, but there wasn’t a great deal of question heading into New York who would win. (2012 was the closest of any two-man race, and that was partially because Manziel was a freshman.)
This year feels different. I think Murray will win, but I wouldn’t bet on it.