Who will be the three 2018 Heisman finalists? The college football experts weigh in …
Bryce Love, Trace McSorley, Will Grier: Love solidifies himself as one of the great college backs in modern history to grab the award, McSorley becomes college football’s unanimously recognized greatest leader, and Grier goes stats-crazy in the Big 12.
Do I have to?
Here’s the problem. Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm, and Kelly Bryant might not actually start at some point this season, and at the very least, they’ll all be part of a rotation for a moment.
Bryce Love is a Stanford running back. You know what’s going to happen – he’ll be a Heisman finalist, but won’t win it.
Trace McSorley won’t have the stats – if Saquon Barkley couldn’t be a finalist, why will McSorley? – and Jonathan Taylor might not get the ball enough around the goal line if he keeps fumbling. The O line is the star of the Badger show, and there are other backs in the mix, too.
This is going to be an off-the-wall year to take the field, so with that in mind, the three finalists will be (in alphabetical order) …
Trevor Lawrence, Bryce Love, Khalil Tate
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin; Will Grier, QB, West Virginia; Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington: If Taylor stays healthy, he goes over 2,000 yards and wins it. (Take a bow, Wall o’ Beef up front.) Greer’s numbers might be Baker Mayfield-like, though INTs — not to mention another underwhelming team record — could sink his candidacy. And then there’s Stanford’s Bryce Love … no, make that Gaskin. The latter back is every bit as dangerous, and his team is better.
Trace McSorley, Kyler Murray, Tua Tagovailoa
This is harder than most years to handicap but I’m always game for blowing predictions, so here it goes.
Bryce Love, Stanford – In a year where there aren’t as many quarterbacks positioned to get to New York as others, I think this is the time for Love to shine. You know he’s going to get carries in Stanford’s offense, and if he can stay healthy, he should improve even on last year when he was dodging a bum ankle and still rushed for over 2,100 yards.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin – See the above note about quarterbacks and then realize that Taylor will be much in the same position as Love, but running behind a better offensive line. He’s going to get a ton of yards, and if Wisconsin can remain in the hunt for the College Football Playoff, I think we could finally see a Wisconsin running back break-through the whole product-of-a-system stigma.
Tua Tagovailoa – This is a tough one because we don’t know for sure that he’ll get the starting nod over Jalen Hurts, but I don’t think Saban is going to put up with Hurts’ little lob across the bow to the media on how he’s been disrespected. I’m calling Tagovailoa as the starter and he plays for Alabama, so he’s going to be there.
Bryce Love, AJ Dillon, Shea Patterson: Bryce Love for obvious reasons. I’m really big on Boston College’s AJ Dillon, and I’m picking him over Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who also has a real shot. Shea Patterson came to Michigan to be a one and done, and I think he impresses in a big way.
Bryce Love, Stanford; Jake Browning, Washington; Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Shannon McKinley, TicketCity.com
Bryce Love – Love is the best-positioned Heisman candidate among non-quarterbacks, including a record year and Stanford’s ongoing assurance to the running game under coach David Shaw.
Tua Tagovailoa – It’s hard to wrap the senses around the fact that one quarterback (Jalen Hurts) led the Crimson Tide to two national championship games, yet another Tide QB (Tagovailoa) will be the stronger Heisman candidate, but here we are.
Shea Patterson – I know, I’m reaching. But, Heisman performances are sometimes built from taking a team all the way to their highest potential. The country has been waiting for Harbaugh to finally win a big game. If Shea can take him there, surely he won’t be passed up.
Trace McSorley, Jonathan Taylor, Bryce Love
First things first: I do not think it will be Tua. Secondly, as badly as I want to say Jake Fromm, he just won’t be throwing the ball enough to put up the numbers. Bryce Love, Jonathan Taylor and Kahlil Tate are my picks.