Heisman Watch 2018: Breaking Down Top Candidates in the Race After Week 10

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 4, 2018

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 03:  Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs for a third quarter touchdown while playing the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alabama won the game 29-0. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Heisman Trophy is Tua Tagovailoa's to lose.

The left-handed Alabama quarterback added to his Heisman resume with a tremendous performance against LSU on Saturday in a victory that reaffirmed the Crimson Tide's status atop college football.

While it seems like a foregone conclusion that the Hawaii native will capture the Heisman in December, there's still a slim possibility his status could be affected by a loss between now and the College Football Playoff.

If that occurs, there are a few other signal-callers who could move from potential Heisman runners-up to contenders to follow in the footsteps of Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield.


Heisman Trophy Candidates

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Not only did Tagovailoa shine against LSU, but he also produced a Heisman moment on his 44-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Tagovailoa threw for 295 yards in the 29-0 curb-stomping of the Tigers, and he added to his passing touchdown total of 27 with a pair of scoring heaves.

Thanks to his 44-yard scamper over the goal line, Tagovailoa recorded his highest total of rushing yards this season with 49.

The only slip-up by the Alabama quarterback came on a second-quarter interception, but even the first pick thrown by the sophomore was seen as a positive in a way because LSU was forced deep inside its own territory and had to punt a few plays later.

With Mississippi State, The Citadel and Auburn remaining on the regular-season schedule, Tagovailoa should be able to cement his Heisman legacy before the SEC Championship Game against Georgia.

What makes Tagovailoa so impressive is the way he handles himself in the pocket and delivers precision passes to his talented core of receivers.

Tagovailoa is the missing piece, if you can even call it that, Alabama needed in its offense to be a dominant force that is capable of steamrolling the best programs in college football.


Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

Before Alabama stole the spotlight Saturday night, Will Grier produced a Heisman moment of his own to help lead West Virginia past Texas.

Grier, who threw for 346 yards in the 42-41 victory, delivered a perfect pass into the back of the end zone to Gary Jennings Jr. for a touchdown with 16 seconds left on the clock.

Instead of tying the game with an extra point, the Mountaineers opted to win the game with a two-point conversion, which Grier ran over the goal line to clinch the win.

In seven of his eight games this year, Grier's thrown for more than 300 yards, and he's thrown for three touchdowns in every start, except for in the defeat at Iowa State.

Grier should receive more love in the Heisman conversation after his performance against Texas, which helped West Virginia move closer to back-to-back Big 12 showdowns with Oklahoma.

As long as the Mountaineers keep winning, Grier has a chance of securing a position as Heisman finalist and earning a trip to New York. But the visit to the Big Apple could just be to watch Tagovailoa accept the hardware.


Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State

Even though he threw a game-winning touchdown against California late Saturday night, Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew didn't have a great performance by his standards.

The transfer from East Carolina threw for 300 yards for the ninth consecutive game, but his late 10-yard strike to Easop Winston was the only touchdown pass he threw Saturday.

Minshew's been a model of consistency for Washington State in a season wherein the best teams in the Pac-12 have been anything but outside of the Cougars.

Five 400-yard passing performances have helped Minshew move into the Heisman discussion, and as long as Washington State continues to control the Pac-12 North, he will be in the conversation to earn an invite to New York.

However, Minshew does have his location going against him, as it's unlikely many people have stayed up to watch Washington State's games.

But the numbers speak for themselves. Minshew is up to 3,517 passing yards, with 5,000 yards in reach in Mike Leach's pass-first system.


Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Before he embarks on his baseball career with the Oakland Athletics, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray should be the second straight Oklahoma quarterback to earn an invitation to the Heisman ceremony.

Brad Tollefson/Associated Press

Just like the other three signal-callers mentioned above, Murray's turned in a high level of production week after week as his team chases a spot in the College Football Playoff.

In Saturday's win over Texas Tech, Murray threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns, but he was intercepted on two occasions.

Murray has a few opportunities in November and December to prove why he should be second behind Tagovailoa in Heisman balloting.

With back-to-back clashes with West Virginia expected to occur at the end of the regular season and in the Big 12 Championship Game, Murray has two chances to outduel Grier and prove he is the star quarterback of the conference while removing his counterpart from the Heisman race.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.