Ranking the Top 2019 Heisman Trophy Contenders Behind Joe Burrow

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2019

Ranking the Top 2019 Heisman Trophy Contenders Behind Joe Burrow

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    Another game, another 300-yard performance from LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

    As college football enters the final week of the 2019 regular season, the senior signal-caller is the clear favorite to win this year's Heisman Trophy.

    Burrow has completed a blistering 78.9 percent of his passes with 4,253 offensive yards and 44 total touchdowns to just six interceptions. He's smashed program and SEC records while helping LSU cruise to an 11-0 record.

    Consequently, calling this a "race" for the Heisman seems disingenuous.

    But a subpar finish to the season from Burrow, while improbable, could create a window of opportunity for another player to rise. If nothing else, someone could steal a chunk of first-place votes.

    The following ranking, which factors in individual production, team success and award trends, is subjective but an educated guess at the Heisman order behind Burrow.

6. Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State

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    2019 stats (11 games): 285 carries, 1,832 yards, 20 touchdowns; 18 receptions, 170 yards

    Every year, a small sampling of Heisman voters launches popular opinion out the window.

    Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard should be the beneficiary of that mindset in 2019.

    Make no mistake: It's deserved, too.

    Heading into Week 14, the sophomore leads the country in rushing yards and ranks second in touchdowns. Hubbard has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in all 10 games against FBS competition and topped the 200-yard barrier four times, with a high of 296 against Kansas State.

5. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

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    2019 stats (11 games): 261 carries, 1,685 yards, 18 touchdowns; 20 receptions, 162 yards, 4 touchdowns

    As a freshman, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor finished sixth in Heisman voting. Last year, he was ninth.

    In 2019, Taylor has a tremendous argument for a top-five spot. After scoring 18 touchdowns in the first half of the regular season, he's rattled off three straight 200-yard games down the stretch.

    A productive showing from Taylor in a victory at Minnesota to seal a Big Ten West division title would be a nice boost for his resume. If he's limited in a loss, though, it'll be a death blow for his chances of finishing as a Heisman finalist.

    No matter where Taylor finishes in the 2019 voting, he should depart for the NFL with 6,000-plus career rushing yards in college and a trio of top-10 Heisman honors. Not bad!

4. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

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    2019 stats (9 games): 180-of-252 (71.4 percent), 2,840 yards, 33 touchdowns, 3 interceptions; 2 rushing touchdowns

    After Alabama lost to LSU, Tua Tagovailoa's likelihood of winning the Heisman dropped substantially. He would have needed to surpass Joe Burrow, which wasn't likely to happen.

    But a season-ending hip injury ended Tagovailoa's season in devastating fashion one week later.

    Now, last year's Heisman runner-up will be flirting with a top-five finish at best in 2019. Nevertheless, his elite production in limited action is still worthy of votes; Tagovailoa propelled the Tide to a 9-1 record while totaling four-plus touchdowns in seven starts.

3. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    2019 stats (11 games): 175-of-252 (69.4 percent), 2,352 yards, 33 touchdowns, 1 interception; 105 carries, 445 yards, 10 touchdowns

    In his first season as a starter, Justin Fields has backed up enormous recruiting hype, just like his recruiting classmate Trevor Lawrence. Fields has guided Ohio State to an 11-0 record while amassing 43 total scores compared to five turnovers.

    Two factors hurt Fields' Heisman candidacy, though.

    The sophomore's stats are somewhat limited by Ohio State's dominancehe has only 16 pass attempts and 13 carries in the fourth quarter all year. Two lost fumbles against Penn State didn't scream Heisman-worthy, either.

    Perhaps a massive game against Michigan would change that perception, but a top-four Heisman finish is no small feat either way.

2. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    2019 stats (11 games): 192-of-269 (71.4 percent), 3,184 yards, 30 touchdowns, 6 interceptions; 180 carries, 1,156 yards, 17 touchdowns; 1 reception, 21 yards

    Since 2015, only four players have surpassed 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts is the latest to join that group, which also includes Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray.

    Pretty good company, right?

    Hurts has made a few mistakes lately, and Oklahoma has not coincidentally played in four straight one-possession games. That basically ended Hurts' chances of winning the award.

    Still, when a late-season struggle still involves 390.3 yards of total offense and 4.3 scores per game, you're doing something right.

1. Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    2019 stats (9 games): 38 tackles, 19.5 for loss, 16.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles

    Chase Young's two-game suspension will eliminate him from the ballots of a few pearl-clutching voters. Recent history shows quarterback is the highest-valued position in the Heisman race, too. Defenders rarely even finish in the top five.

    Despite all of that, the All-American edge-rusher has a convincing case for first-place attention.

    Young has thrived against all competition, yet his production is also highest against the best opponents. In three games against current Top 25 teams, Young has recorded 18 tackles with 10.5 for loss, 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

    If he continues that pace against Michigan and in the Big Ten title game, Young is certain to sway a few more voters from Burrow.

    Will it be enough? Probably not. But the Heisman race may finish a little tighter than we expected.