The Heisman Trophy is probably one of the stranger trophies in terms of the way the winner is determined. The number of finalists will often fluctuate from 2 to 4, and there are a large number of factors to think about- including team success and record, strength of schedule, and probably the hardest to quantify- the “Heisman Moment.” The Heisman Moment is often a big game where the eventual trophy winner puts on a show or creates a memorable play, and from there, the title is often that player’s to lose. (Ex: Johnny Manziel vs. Alabama in 2012, or Lamar Jackson vs. Florida State in 2016)
So far, this year’s Heisman Race has been mainly between 6 players: Alabama’s QB Tua Tagovailoa, Ohio State’s QB Justin Fields and Defensive End Chase Young, LSU’s QB Joe Burrow, and Oklahoma’s QB Jalen Hurts.
Over the past 2 weeks, however, two of these players were effectively eliminated from Heisman contention.
Young: 22 tackles, 13.5 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles in 2019 (8 games)
Chase Young has been suspended the past two weeks, and this stemmed from a controversy surrounding his taking out of a loan to fly his girlfriend out to last year’s Rose Bowl Game. Right or not, this is an NCAA violation and landed him a two-game suspension- taking two games’ worth of stats away and basically knocking him out of the race. It is extremely rare for a defensive player to even be in consideration for this award, so even being thought of in this conversation is impressive.
Tagovailoa: 2,840 yards passing, 33 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 71.4% completion
Tua’s season, and Heisman chances, unfortunately, came to a premature end this weekend in Starkville, as he suffered a hip dislocation on a sack towards the end of the second quarter in a game his Alabama team was leading 35-7. Tua was going to have difficulty winning the award anyway because his team is so dominant that he doesn’t have to play a lot of second halves (meaning he doesn’t get to rack up the stats). But more importantly, the hope is that he is able to recover so that he doesn’t miss out on the multi-millions he had on the table as a sure top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
3: Justin Fields
Land-Grant Holy Land
Fields: 2,164 yards passing, 31 touchdowns, 1 interception, 69.1% completion, 377 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns
Fields has been absolutely everything Ohio State fans could have hoped for when he transferred into the program. He has taken his opportunity and run with it. However, the one drawback to all this success is that Fields has not had the opportunity to finish many games this year, because of Ohio State’s dominance. In fact, over half of the games this year, Fields hasn’t even played 3 quarters. This will make it very difficult for him to have a legitimate shot at the Heisman, but look for him to be a finalist for the ceremony.
2: Jalen Hurts
Hurts: 3,039 yards passing, 28 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 73% completion, 983 yards rushing, 15 touchdowns
Jalen Hurts is looking to become the third (!!) Oklahoma Quarterback in a row to win the Heisman Trophy (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray). Whether it’s Lincoln Riley’s offensive system or the talented players, or even the Big 12’s lack of defense, Oklahoma QB’s have been putting up unreal seasons the past few years. Hurts, who actually transferred from Alabama after losing his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa, is no different. And, by leading his squad to a 25-point comeback on the road at Baylor this weekend, he may be creeping up on the #1 spot. However, unless he takes his play up another level up or the player I’m about to talk about slips up, it will be hard to dethrone…
1: Joe Burrow
Burrow: 3,687 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 78.6% (!!) completion
Joe Burrow, after backing up a Big 10 record holder (J.T. Barrett) and a first-round pick (Dwayne Haskins) at Ohio State, decided to transfer over to LSU for his chance, and he has taken the opportunity and run with it. After a decent year in 2018 (2,894 pass yards, 16 touchdowns, 5 interceptions), Burrow has completely burst onto the national scene in 2019. He has looked almost unstoppable at times, completing an incredible 78.6% of his passes, and has led his LSU team to a #1 ranking in the CFP. Additionally, he already has his ‘Heisman Moment,’ after he led his team to a thrilling 46-41 win AT Alabama, throwing for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns. (Which he followed up this weekend with a 489 yard, 5 touchdown performance at Ole Miss). Again, unless Burrow has major slip-ups coming over the next few weeks, it is hard to forecast him not walking away with this year’s Heisman.