Heisman Watch 2019: Highlighting Race's Front-Runners After Week 11

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 10, 2019

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - NOVEMBER 09: Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers celebrates as he is carried by teammates after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide 46-41 at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow established himself as the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman Trophy in Saturday's win over Alabama. 

The senior quarterback produced his third straight 300-yard performance and recorded his highest rushing total in the Tigers' first win over the Crimson Tide since 2011. 

Burrow was not the only star of the victory, but he was the highest-profile offensive player on the roster to shine, and that helped him gain separation from Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Fields and others on the Heisman odds chart. 

Hurts, Tagovailoa and Fields still have chances to impress Heisman voters in matchups against ranked teams, but even then they may not do enough to beat Burrow. 


Heisman Trophy Front-Runners

Joe Burrow, QB, LSU 

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The Heisman is Burrow's to lose. 

At Bryant-Denny Stadium, he produced his third 300-yard game against a ranked foe this season. He also had 293 passing yards versus Florida. 

The transfer from Ohio State had eight incomplete passes and had a season high of 14 carries for 64 yards. 

Burrow's performance boosted him well above his competitors on the odds chart, as Bleacher Report Betting pointed out: 

The senior led the Tigers to 33 first-half points, which was the highest total a Nick Saban defense conceded since Drew Brees did so with Purdue in 1999, per ESPN's Bill Barnwell: 

The 393-yard output easily surpassed any LSU quarterback performance versus Alabama since 2011, per Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger: 

In four wins over ranked foes, Burrow is 115-of-144 for 1,478 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. 

Those numbers alone should stand out to Heisman voters, and it is going to be hard for any other quarterback to match it in November and December. 


Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Jalen Hurts racked up 341 total yards and five touchdowns in Oklahoma's one-point win over Iowa State. 

The dual-threat quarterback has been consistent with his production during his first season with the Sooners.

That alone should place him in New York as a Heisman finalist, but he can solidify that resume with a victory over undefeated Baylor. 

Depending on where the Bears land in the polls, they could be the best opponent Hurts faces in the Big 12. Texas was No. 11 for the October 12 meeting at the Cotton Bowl. 

The transfer from Alabama has thrown for at least 230 yards and run for 45 yards or more in each of his nine games. 

By the time Big 12 play ends, Hurts should have 3,000 yards through the air and 1,000 on the ground. He could also hit 50 total touchdowns with 11 more trips to the end zone. 

If the Sooners defeat Baylor Saturday, there is a good chance they could meet again in the Big 12 Championship Game since every other Big 12 program has at least two conference losses. 

Handing Baylor its first loss and then beating it again to possibly make the College Football Playoff could place Hurts second behind Burrow. 


Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - NOVEMBER 09: Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks to pass during the second half against the LSU Tigers in the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Ima
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It feels like Tagovailoa's Heisman chances were crushed by LSU. 

The left-handed junior produced 418 passing yards, but a good chunk of those were earned in the second half when the Crimson Tide tried to make up a 20-point halftime deficit. 

Tagovailoa threw a game-changing interception in the second quarter that allowed LSU to pad its lead, and he barely completed half of his passes. 

With three SEC games left, Tagovailoa has 614 fewer passing yards than Burrow and his completion percentage is eight points lower. 

That direct comparison would lead Heisman voters to give Burrow first-place votes over the Alabama quarterback. 

If Burrow and Hurts continue to shine and Fields lights up Penn State and Michigan's defenses, Tagovailoa could be fourth in the Heisman voting. 

With no SEC Championship Game in his future, Tagovailoa needs to put up amazing numbers versus Auburn just to remain in the top three by December. 


Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 9:  Quarterback Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes passes over the defense of Oluwaseun Oluwatimi #52 of the Maryland Terrapins in the first quarter at Ohio Stadium on November 9, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie S
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Fields has to wait one more week before he showcases his skills to a national audience. 

The sophomore breezed through Maryland with 228 total yards and four scores in a 73-21 win Saturday. 

He is expected to produce similar numbers when the Buckeyes take on Rutgers next week. 

After that, Ohio State hosts Penn State, visits Michigan and could face one of Minnesota, Iowa or Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Fields' best-case scenario for Heisman contention features massive days against the Nittany Lions and the Wolverines plus a chance to knock off undefeated Minnesota in Indianapolis. 

But even then voters could favor Burrow because of his numbers compared to Fields. 

Since Ohio State has blown out all of its opponents, it has not relied on the transfer from Georgia much in the second half. 

That is why Fields has 1,859 passing yards and 347 rushing yards, but he does have 37 touchdowns and a single interception. 

If he closes Big Ten play with standout performances, Fields could become Burrow's best competition for the prestigious award. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.