Conference play is officially underway and some of college football’s brightest stars were on full display this past weekend. Here’s how the frontrunners are stacking up in the Heisman race:
#13 Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback, No. 1 Alabama
Tagovailoa once again showed his greatness this past weekend. The sophomore quarterback has taken the Crimson Tide — a team that has traditionally won with good defense and a strong running game — and turned them into one of the nation’s most explosive offenses.
Alabama’s defense came up with an interception on Texas A&M’s first drive and set up Tagovailoa with great field position. Then, on a simple drop back, Tagovailoa aired it out and connected with sophomore wide receiver Devonta Smith for a 30-yard touchdown pass. The throw was indicative of the explosiveness Tagovailoa has brought to this Crimson Tide offense.
#7 Will Grier, quarterback, No. 12 West Virginia
Grier and the Mountaineers dominated Kansas State this past weekend in a 35-6 win. The victory came off of an unscheduled bye week after their game against NC State was canceled due to Hurricane Florence. Even with a week off, Grier was able to stay very close to the top of the Heisman debate.
Grier picked up right where he left off on Saturday. He threw for 356 yards and five touchdowns, a statline likely to recur multiple times this season. The combination of points and ranking will keep Grier in the discussion all year long. However, he’s going to need a signature moment if he wants to take home any hardware.
#10 Ed Oliver, defensive tackle, Houston
Oliver is the most recent player to be used in the argument that the Heisman doesn’t go to the best player each year.
Oliver’s production as an interior lineman can’t be put on the stat sheet but can be seen on tape. He provides great push on the line to disrupt the opponents’ rushing. He won’t always get the sack, but many times the sack occurs because of his initial pressure. Although he’s best regarded as a dark horse in this year’s race, Oliver’s sheer dominance against opposing offensive lines will keep him in the conversation.
#1 Kyler Murray, quarterback, No. 6 Oklahoma
For the first time this season, Murray had to play under pressure. The Sooners were on pace to have another potent offensive performance after two touchdowns during the first quarter against Army. The second half was a different story, though. Murray and the offense were shut out completely, taking the game to overtime as the Black Knights made things interesting late in the game.
In overtime, Murray ran a play-action fake and hit CeeDee Lamb in the endzone for what would be the game-winning touchdown. Murray ended with four total touchdowns but only 165 yards through the air. It wasn’t his best performance of the season, but the Sooners escaped with a win, leaving his potential Heisman status as strong.
#10 Justin Herbert, quarterback, No. 19 Oregon
Herbert went on an emotional rollercoaster last Saturday night. Oregon played Pac-12 Conference rival Stanford in a matchup of two ranked foes. The Ducks led, 24-7, late in the third quarter until the Cardinal made a late push, eventually winning in overtime.
Herbert has quietly put together a convincing argument through the first four weeks of the season. He’s thrown for either 300 yards or four touchdowns in each game this season. He has the disadvantage of playing on the west coast, where late games aren’t watched by nearly as many fans as primetime games are. As a result, Herbert will have to play at an astronomical level for the remainder of the season to raise his stock enough for a chance to take home the Trophy.