The regular season has concluded, and three players have separated themselves from the rest of college football. Heisman voters will choose among Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. Each quarterback is in his first full year as a starter, but all have shattered records and have a strong argument why they should win.
In just his first year as a starter, Dwayne Haskins is looking like a pro with his career year. The redshirt sophomore has 4,580 yards passing along with 47 touchdowns and eight interceptions on a 70-percent completion rate. His 47 touchdowns shattered a Big 10 record for most touchdown passes in a single season, surpassing predecessor J.T. Barrett and Purdue’s Drew Brees. Haskins also broke the record for total yards in a single season, a record previously held by Michigan’s Denard Robinson. His stats are through the roof, but his impact goes deeper. The Buckeyes are 12-1 largely on the back of Haskins.
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) December 6, 2018
The defense has struggled without star Nick Bosa. And with the turmoil in the preseason and early in the year with head coach Urban Meyer, Haskins has seen his leadership role escalate, and he’s more than delivered. The Buckeyes went into the regular-season finale against Michigan as an underdog to one of the best defenses in the nation. But the sophomore threw a cool 396 yards with six touchdowns and zero picks. In fact, in his last three games alone, Haskins has 1200 passing yards and 17 touchdowns, clinching his spot in New York.
Ohio State hasn’t had a Heisman finalist since Troy Smith won the award in 2006, but this could be the year the trophy goes back to Columbus. As a redshirt sophomore, Haskins has the option to go to the NFL, which some speculate he may with the departure of Urban Meyer.
Kyler Murray wins the AP Player of the Year 🏆
Murray beat out Tua Tagovailoa by 56 votes. pic.twitter.com/aYQieO27jH
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 6, 2018
Last year, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield won the Heisman trophy. Is it possible that his predecessor puts up even better numbers despite a worse defense? And his race is much closer than Mayfield’s?
Kyler Murray has had a stellar season in Norman, Oklahoma, in what could be his lone season before he goes to play in the MLB or the NFL potentially. He does have one year of eligibility left to play at Oklahoma.
This season, Murray has 4053 yards, 51 total touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. He leads the country in QBR at 96.0 and total yards of offense at 4,945. Of Power 5 quarterbacks, Murray leads in completion percentage at an efficient 70.9 percent. Like Haskins, Murray has to carry a team with defensive struggles. Except, the Sooners’ struggles are on another level. In the last four games of the regular season, the Big 12 champs gave up over 40 points a game. They won all of those games thanks to the junior.
Alabama’s Tagovailoa may have had the Heisman wrapped up in the middle of the season, but that all changed during championship weekend. Against the Texas Longhorns, Murray threw for 379 yards through the air and three touchdowns without an interception. In fact, of the Heisman finalists, Murray was the only one not to throw a pick. With Tagovailoa’s injury and struggles in November into December, Murray’s consistent play could propel him to a Heisman trophy.
The Heisman trophy should be based on an entire season’s work, not just the last few games. Recency bias influences voters, but if we look at what these guys have been doing since September, the winner is Tua.
The sophomore signal caller has had one of the most efficient seasons in college football history. He’s thrown for 37 touchdowns and just four interceptions. In fact, he went his first eight games without throwing a single pick. And most of the time, the game was over by the second quarter. Some have questioned Tua’s ability to play in high-pressure situations despite winning the national championship as a freshman.
Tagovailoa normally doesn’t play the fourth quarter of games because the game is already out of hand very quickly due to his and the team’s dominant play. The Hawaiian native got hurt during the LSU game and has battled injury since then. But even with a bad ankle, he threw for 324 yards and five touchdowns and ran one in against Auburn.
Snaps played by #Heisman finalists in 2018:
Kyler Murray: 807:
Passing Yards: 4053, TDs: 40
IF Tua had 807 snaps:
Passing Yards: 4,601, TDs: 51
Tua Tagovailoa: 588:
Passing Yards: 3353, TDs: 37
— Griffin Pair (@gpair24) December 6, 2018
If the Heisman trophy is awarded to the best player on the best team, then the winner should not be in doubt. Through 13 games, Tagovailoa has proved himself to be the most outstanding player in college football.
This season is seeing one of the most competitive Heisman races in recent memory. All three are having outstanding seasons and would likely win by themselves if they were in any other year.