Heisman Race 2018: List of Finalists for Coveted Trophy Announced

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2018

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The Heisman Trophy finalists were announced Monday evening, with Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins selected for the Saturday, Dec. 8 ceremony and announcement of the winner in New York. 

And if you think there's a clear-cut favorite from that group, well, think again.

Below, we'll break down the finalists and their cases to be voted on as the winner.

               

Finalists

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama 

The Alabama quarterback has arguably been the front-runner for this award for most of the season, leading the Crimson Tide to an unbeaten regular season and a berth in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia, where they won and claimed both an SEC title and berth in the College Football Playoff.

Tagovailoa has thrown for 3,353 yards, 37 touchdowns and just four interceptions this season, adding 190 rushing yards and five scores. He's completed an impressive 67.7 percent of his passes and didn't throw an interception until Alabama's eighth game of the season.

He also finished the regular season off in style, throwing for five touchdowns and rushing for a sixth in the Iron Bowl against rival Auburn in Alabama's convincing 52-21 win. On the most talented team in the country, Tagovailoa has nonetheless stood out.

"It's crazy because you don't ever really notice that you're witnessing greatness," Alabama running back Josh Jacobs told B/R's Adam Kramer. "The plays he makes are so difficult, but he makes them look so effortless."

"He's a GOAT," Alabama's Quinnen Williams added. "He's going to win the Heisman twice."

This year might be his first, though his performance and injury in the SEC title game might have opened the door for another contender to surpass him. Tagovailoa left the game in the fourth quarter with the Crimson Tide trailing by seven after completing just 10 of 25 passes for 164 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, and Jalen Hurts led the team to consecutive touchdown drives to earn the win.

It was Tagovailoa's worst game of the season on the biggest stage. It was his only poor performance of the year, however—a fact worth remembering.

            

Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma 

In most seasons, Murray would probably be the unquestioned favorite for the Heisman Trophy. His stats are gaudy: 4,053 passing yards for 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions, completing 70.9 percent of his passes, to go along with 892 rushing yards for another 11 scores. Murray is the most dynamic dual-threat quarterback in the nation.

And he may be the best young athlete in the country, period. Football isn't even Murray's primary sport, after all. In fact, he still plans to give up football after this season to pursue a professional baseball career after he was the No. 9 overall pick by the Oakland Athletics last summer.

If Murray were to win the Heisman and then go on to become a baseball star, he'd become the stuff of legend. Regardless, he's made his mark on college football this season and has led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff. 

If Murray leapfrogs Tagovailoa, it won't be a major shock, especially given Murray's superior performance (25-of-34 for 379 passing yards and three touchdowns) in his conference title game.

        

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State 

Haskins is likely a distant third in the Heisman race behind Tagovailoa and Murray, but he's had a superb season nonetheless, throwing for an impressive 4,580 yards, 47 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His place in New York was guaranteed with his enormous performance against Michigan, when he threw for 396 yards and six touchdowns and led the Buckeyes back to the Big Ten title game.

He was just as good in that game, finishing 34-of-41 for 499 yards, five touchdowns and one interception as Ohio State claimed the conference. While it wasn't enough to earn a berth in the College Football Playoff, Haskins nonetheless had the Buckeyes in the conversation.

He also made Big Ten history, breaking conference records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. Given the number of talented quarterbacks who have played in the Big Ten, that's no small feat, and yet another reason Haskins deserves his place in New York.

Where to Watch: The Heisman Award ceremony and all college football broadcasts are available through fuboTV.

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