Heisman Trophy Finalists Breakdown: Why Each Could Win, Who Will Win?

Heisman Trophy Finalists Breakdown: Why Each Could Win, Who Will Win?

Heisman Trophy Race

Heisman Trophy Finalists Breakdown: Why Each Could Win, Who Will Win?


Who’ll win the 84th Heisman Trophy out of the three finalists, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa?


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Saturday night, December 8th, the 84th Heisman Trophy will be awarded to one of three quarterbacks.

All three of the finalists – Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa – are deserving, but what’s the case to be made for each one, what are the knocks, and who’s going to win?

It’ll mark the eight time in nine years the Heisman went to a quarterback – Alabama’s Derrick Henry in 2015 was the aberration.

From 1994 (Colorado’s Rashaan Salaam) to 1999 (Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne), four running backs won it in six years. However, since 2000 on, 15 of the last 18 winners – USC’s Reggie Bush in 2005 and Alabama’s Mark Ingram in 2009 join Henry – were quarterbacks.

It’s about to be 16 in the last 19 years in an all-time amazing season for passers.

One quick note. I have a Heisman vote, and I can’t/won’t reveal my ballot until after the official announcement. This isn’t that; it’s a prediction of how this might play out.

With the finalists in alphabetical order, starting with …

QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State, Soph.

Haskins set the tone last season as he filled in for JT Barrett, completing 70% of his passes for 565 yards and four touchdowns with a pick, and famously hitting 6-of-7 throws for 94 yards to save the day against Michigan.

But no one could foresee this.

Washington State’s Gardner Minshew led the nation in average passing yards per game with 373, but Haskins was second, throwing for 352 yards.

Helped by the Big Ten Championship – one extra game Minshew didn’t get – Haskins led the nation in passing yards as he ripped up the record books on the way to the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Why Dwayne Haskins Will Win The Heisman: In one of the all-time greatest seasons for college quarterbacks, Haskins destroyed everyone in touchdown passes with 47.

Kyler Murray – who also played in 13 games, was second with 40. West Virginia’s Will Grier threw for 37 – a full ten fewer scoring passes than Haskins – but to be fair, he played in two fewer games.

But it was more than just the big stats and the passing numbers. Haskins managed to carry the team for most of the season, fighting through an inconsistent defense and a spotty running game to throw and throw and throw some more.

He came up clutch late against TCU, pulled a rabbit out of his hat – or his head, if you’re Jason Witten – in the 27-26 win over Penn State, and saved the season with his three touchdown runs and late charge against Maryland.

And for all of the team’s problems and all of the team’s issues from start to finish, it ended up still going 12-1 with a Big Ten title.

That’s all because of Dwayne Haskins.

He went on a tear of three straight 400-yard games, threw for 396 and six touchdowns against Michigan, and finished up by nailing Northwestern for 499 yards and five touchdowns.

But what about the ugly 49-20 loss to Purdue? There was a bad interception, but the game was hardly his fault. The defense let him down – he threw for 470 yards and two touchdowns.

Why Dwayne Haskins Won’t Win The Heisman: He never seemed to take the Heisman narrative as his at any point this season.

It was Tua Tagovailoa’s for most of the year, and then Murray made a late charge. Meanwhile, Haskins made bombing away for ridiculous yards seem routine.

His brilliance was taken for granted.

It’s not fair and it’s not right, but his massive game against Michigan – his signature performance – was overshadowed by the mere fact that it was such a brutal 62-39 win. The story became that the Buckeyes rolled, and not that Haskins just hit the revenge-minded No. 1 defense for six touchdowns.

The other issue? He didn’t run enough RPOs.

It was the silliest of complaints, but when the offense wasn’t consistent, there was some grumbling that it was because Haskins wasn’t running like Barrett or Braxton Miller did.

Boo hoo. Barrett and Miller had to run because they couldn’t throw for 400 yards with regularity like Haskins can.

The Straight Numbers: 348-496 (70%) for 4,580 yards and 47 touchdowns with eight interceptions. 122 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

NEXT: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

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