Heisman Watch 2019: Top Contenders in Race for College Football's Biggest Honor

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 14, 2019

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws a pass against Alabama an NCAA football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Tuscaloosa , Ala. LSU won 46-41. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts has an opportunity to secure his spot as a Heisman Trophy finalist Saturday against Baylor.

Hurts and the rest of the Heisman hopefuls have a large gap to make up to LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who established himself as the favorite in Week 11's win over Alabama.

It looks like four quarterbacks could be headed to the Heisman ceremony in New York.

Ohio State's Justin Fields and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa are also in contention for the award, but that could change if Ohio State defensive end Chase Young thrives upon his return from a two-game suspension.

                            

Top Heisman Contenders

Joe Burrow, QB, LSU 

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Barring a collapse in the next three games, Burrow will likely take home the Heisman in the second week of December.

The senior rocketed to the top of the Heisman list with 393 passing yards and a trio of touchdown passes in the 46-41 victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The transfer from Ohio State went over the 3,000-yard mark Saturday, and he could end up with more than 4,000 passing yards if he thrives against Ole Miss, Arkansas and Texas A&M.

His touchdown total could also finish near the mid-40s. He has 33 scoring throws, and he has dominated lesser opposition. Twenty-two of Burrow's touchdown passes have come against unranked sides, and in four of those games, he recorded four or more.

If he continues to pad his numbers in November and plays well against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, there will be no doubt about this year's winner. If he finishes first, Burrow would be the second Heisman winner out of LSU and first since Billy Cannon in 1959.

                    

Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Hurts has the statistics to match Burrow, but he does not have a marquee performance on his resume. That could change against Baylor Saturday night, as Oklahoma tries to regain control of the Big 12.

The senior has 2,742 passing yards, 869 rushing yards and 39 total touchdowns in his first season with the Sooners. With Hurts in command, Lincoln Riley's team has put up at least 34 points in each of its nine games this season, and it has racked up 135 points in the past three contests.

With TCU and Oklahoma State also left on the schedule, Hurts has more opportunities to thrive against quality foes than Burrow.

However, the LSU signal-caller already has a quartet of impressive showings versus top-10 squads that has separated him from the rest of the contenders. If Hurts performs well in the next three games, he could come close to earning 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards.

                         

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

Fields has been patiently waiting in the shadows to turn in his breakout performance.

The transfer from Georgia will receive his chance to shine in Weeks 13 and 14 versus Penn State and Michigan. In Week 12, Fields is expected to put up exorbitant statistics against Rutgers, which is 0-6 in the Big Ten.

The Ohio State quarterback could eclipse 30 passing touchdowns Saturday. He sits at 27.

The biggest difference between Fields and Hurts and Burrow is the lack of passing yards, as he possesses 1,859. That number is low because the Buckeyes have won all of their games by at least 20 points.

There has been no need for Fields to light up opposing secondaries for four quarters, and in some cases, he has not played much of the final stanza.

If he can guide the Buckeyes to a Big Ten Championship, Fields should secure his spot in New York.

There is a possibility he is joined by Young, who leads the FBS in sacks with 13.5. Missing two games may hurt the defensive end's chances, but if he is as dominant against Penn State and Michigan as he was versus Wisconsin, Young may head to the ceremony.

                   

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

Last year's runner-up may finish further down in the voting in 2019.

Tagovailoa threw for 418 yards and four scores against LSU, but those totals do not tell the full story of his performance. The left-handed Hawaiian lost a fumble and threw an interception in the first half that cost the Crimson Tide a few scoring chances. The junior also completed a little more than half of his passes by going 21-of-40 with a 67.0 quarterback rating.

Matchups with Mississippi State and Western Carolina should allow Tagovailoa to boost his numbers before taking on Auburn. A standout showing in the latter could solidify his resume, but the lack of an appearance on conference championship weekend may keep top votes away from him.

                        

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.

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