Com­par­ing Heisman Tro­phy fi­nal­ists, the QBs from col­lege foot­ball no­bil­ity

The Kansas City Star - - Sports - BY BLAIR KERKHOFF [email protected]­

The Heisman Tro­phy race has come down to three guys play­ing the glamor po­si­tion at col­lege foot­ball no­bil­ity.

For the sev­enth time in the award’s his­tory, three quar­ter­backs are the fi­nal­ists: Alabama Tua Tago­v­ailoa, Ok­la­homa’s Kyler Mur­ray and Dwayne Hask­ins of Ohio State have put up ex­tra­or­di­nary num­bers this sea­son.

If the sea­son ended to­day, Tago­v­ailoa’s passer rat­ing of 202.3 would break an NCAA record set by last year’s Heisman win­ner, Baker May­field of


But Tago­v­ailoa would fin­ish sec­ond in that cat­e­gory. Mur­ray, May­field’s suc­ces­sor with the Soon­ers, leads the na­tion at 205.7.

Both of those quar­ter­backs, who face off in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off semi­fi­nals in the Or­ange Bowl on Dec. 29, trail Hask­ins in pass­ing yards and touch­downs. He leads the na­tion at 4,580 yards and 47 scor­ing passes.

To­tal yards? Mur­ray has 4,945 be­cause of his du­althreat abil­ity. He’s rushed for 892 yards and 11 touch­downs.

Ef­fi­ciency? Tago­v­ailoa has thrown for touch­downs on 12.6 per­cent of his passes, com­pared to 11.8 for Mur­ray and 9.5 for Hask­ins.

Ac­cord­ing to bet­ting web­sites, this year’s Heisman chase has ac­tu­ally be­come a two-per­son race be­tween Tago­v­ailoa and Mur­ray, with Mur­ray mak­ing a late charge.

Ac­cord­ing to Bo­vada, an on­line wa­ger­ing site, Mur­ray has emerged as the fa­vorite at 1/2, with Tago­v­ailoa at 3/2 and Hask­ins at 16/1.

A month ago, Tago­v­ailoa was the fa­vorite.

Some­times the awards lead­ing into the Heisman pro­vide a clue. Not this time. Mur­ray cap­tured the Davey O’Brien Award as the na­tion’s top quar­ter­back and As­so­ci­ated Press player of the year. Tago­v­ailoa won the Max­well and Wal­ter Camp awards as the na­tion’s top player.

The split de­ci­sion sug­gests a toss-up head­ing into Satur­day’s re­veal on ESPN. The award show be­gins at 7 p.m. Cen­tral. Only one race since 2009 fin­ished with the win­ner re­ceiv­ing fewer than 100 more first-place votes than the run­ner-up.

This one comes with an air of mys­tery.

Here’s a break­down of the can­di­dates:


Why he’ll win

The num­bers are eye­pop­ping. Hask­ins’ pass­ing yards and touch­downs lap the to­tals of Ohio State’s pre­vi­ous Heisman win­ner, quar­ter­back Troy Smith, who threw for 2,542 yards and 30 touch­downs in 2006. Hask­ins’ num­bers also set Big Ten stan­dards. Record­set­ting quar­ter­backs for con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons and his­tor­i­cally pow­er­ful pro­grams usu­ally fit the pro­file of a Heisman win­ner.

Why he won’t

That pro­file also be­longs to the other two fi­nal­ists. In polls and on watch lists, Hask­ins couldn’t over­come Tago­v­ailoa early. But in the fi­nal few weeks, Hask­ins has had some re­mark­able games, in­clud­ing a com­bined 895 pass­ing yards and 11 touch­downs against Michi­gan and North­west­ern. But it won’t be enough for Ohio State to add to its Heisman col­lec­tion.

Pre­dic­tion: Third


Why he’ll win

The Soon­ers aren’t in this po­si­tion with­out a great of­fense, and Mur­ray has de­liv­ered like last year’s win­ner, May­field, said he would. Mur­ray’s had nine 300-yard pass­ing games and has been ter­rific in the Soon­ers’ last two out­ings, at West Vir­ginia and against Texas in the Big 12 ti­tle game. He has also been a big part of the OU run­ning game and av­er­ages 7.3 yards per carry with 11 touch­downs. Why he won’t

Big 12 de­fenses stink? TCU and Iowa State rank in the top 50 in to­tal de­fense (fewest yards al­lowed). The SEC has nine teams and the Big Ten five on that list. Shootouts are a fact of life in the Big 12 and no­body was bet­ter in these games than Mur­ray.

Pre­dic­tion: First


Why he’ll win

He started for the first time this sea­son in Alabama’s opener and a month later he was the Heisman fa­vorite. Tago­v­ailoa put up big num­bers early in the sea­son and could have had more. Nick Sa­ban pulled him from the sec­ond half of many games with the Crim­son Tide com­fort­ably ahead. Through eight games, Tago­v­ailoa had thrown at least two touch­down passes in each game with­out an in­ter­cep­tion. The “most pro­duc­tive player on the best team” rule ap­plies here, and Tago­v­ailoa put up his num­bers against sev­eral top-rated de­fenses.

Why he won’t

Tua’s lat­est game could sway some vot­ers. Be­fore he was in­jured and gave way to Jalen Hurts in the sec­ond half of Bama’s SEC ti­tle game vic­tory over Ge­or­gia, Tago­v­ailoa went 10 for 25 with two in­ter­cep­tions, his worst game of the sea­son. In a close race, a bad fi­nal im­pres­sion could make the dif­fer­ence.

Pre­dic­tion: Sec­ond


Quar­ter­back Kyler Mur­ray (cen­ter) and the Ok­la­homa Soon­ers got past Texas on Satur­day in the Big 12 cham­pi­onship in Ar­ling­ton, Texas.

Tua Tago­v­ailoa

Dwayne Hask­ins

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