Heisman Finalists 2019: Predictions for Candidates' Order of Finish in the Race

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 14, 2019

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks to pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
Thomas Graning/Associated Press

The SEC is expected to gain its first Heisman Trophy winner since Alabama's Derrick Henry in 2015, with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow the overwhelming favorite to finish top of the ballots Saturday night. 

Although the SEC has been the dominant conference of the last decade with five national titles, it has had just three Heisman winners since 2010: Henry, Auburn's Cam Newton in 2010 and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel in 2012. 

Other candidates include Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields and Chase Young.

Ohio State quarterback Fields and defensive end Young are the seventh set of teammates to be Heisman finalists and the first to be an offensive and defensive duo, per ESPN Stats and Info.

Oklahoma quarterback Hurts is not expected to become the third straight Sooners signal-caller to take home the prestigious award, but he could still finish second behind Burrow. 


Predicted Heisman Order

1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU 

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 07: Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers celebrates in the second half against the Georgia Bulldogs during the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Ima
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Burrow's rise from mediocre quarterback to Heisman favorite is remarkable. 

A year ago, the transfer from Ohio State had 2,894 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. 

With a new offensive system in place for his senior season, Burrow recorded 4,715 passing yards and 48 touchdowns while completing 77.9 percent of his throws. 

He will enter the College Football Playoff with seven straight 300-yard performances and with 1,797 yards and 15 scoring throws versus five Top 10 opponents. 

The LSU signal-caller has swept all of the other major awards, including AP Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award and Davey O'Brien Award, and is in line to become the second Heisman winner from LSU. Billy Cannon won the Tigers' first trophy in 1959. 


2. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 07: Jalen Hurts #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners runs the ball against the Baylor Bears in the second quarter of the Big 12 Football Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 7, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Image
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

In any other year, Hurts may have been considered the favorite for the Heisman because of his production on the ground and through the air. 

The Oklahoma senior racked up 3,634 passing yards, 1,255 rushing yards and 50 total touchdowns and helped the Sooners earn the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff. 

On three occasions, the former Alabama signal-caller had 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game, and he scored multiple touchdowns with his arm and legs on five instances. 

However, Hurts was not as dominant as Burrow versus ranked opposition, including two games against No. 7 Baylor. He struggled in the first half of the initial meeting with the Bears before leading a comeback, and then only scored one touchdown and threw an interception in Oklahoma's 30-23 Big 12 Championship Game win.

Despite leading his team to victories in both games, Burrow's dominance has caused Hurts' performance to be under greater scrutiny than many previous Heisman winners', and he will not extend the streak of Oklahoma Heisman winners to three. 


3. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Fields also produced stellar numbers, but like Hurts, he did not control the big games from start to finish as Burrow did. 

The sophomore became the fourth quarterback this decade to throw for 40 touchdowns, rush for 10 scores and throw a single interception, per The Athletic's Max Olson

Fields completed his Heisman resume with 601 passing yards and seven passing scores versus Michigan and Wisconsin, with the latter in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

While he ended with the same amount of end-zone trips as Hurts, Fields recorded less than half his rushing-yard total by producing 471 on 123 carries. 

Although he played well down the stretch, Fields lost a pair of fumbles versus Penn State that led to points for the Nittany Lions, and he struggled in the first half in Indianapolis a week ago and lost another fumble. 

Those minor flaws could be the difference between second and third place Saturday.


4. Chase Young, DE, Ohio State 

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The peak of Young's Heisman candidacy came at the end of October after he dominated the Wisconsin offensive line. 

On October 26, the junior defensive end produced six tacklesfive for lossand four sacks at Ohio Stadium. 

After a two-game suspension for violating NCAA rules, Young produced four tackles for loss and a trio of sacks in the win over Penn State. 

However, his totals dropped off after November 23; he was kept out of the box score by Michigan and did not earn a sack in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

The failure to produce in the last two outings could drop Young down to fourth on a handful of ballots, especially with how well the three quarterbacks played. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.