- Who will follow Baker Mayfield as the nation's most outstanding player? Week 1 had several prominent performances that have helped the 2018 Heisman race take shape.
College football season is officially underway, which means the best players across the country have begun to make their case to be invited to New York in early December for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. After Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the illustrious award last year, the Sooners are back in early talks with running back Rodney Anderson.
Ohio State drummed up plenty of attention between performances from first-time starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins and defensive end Nick Bosa.
Here's how some of the top candidates fared in Week 1:
Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins
In his first collegiate start, Haskins made quite an impression and set a new Ohio State record.
Haskins completed 22 of 30 passes for 313 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. He also ran twice for 24 yards en route to Ohio State's 77-31 win over Oregon State. Haskins collected the most passing yards and most touchdown passes by an Ohio State quarterback making his first start.
Although no one expected Haskins to set a record in his first start, the Buckeyes had high hopes with Haskins, a 2016 four-star recruit, at the helm. While playing backup to J.T. Barrett last season, Haskins recorded four touchdowns and 565 yards, and he played a critical role in leading the second-half rally against Michigan to close the regular season.
On Saturday, Haskins averaged 10.4 yards per attempt; Barrett averaged 7.8 yards per attempt during his career.
Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson
If there were any doubts about how Oklahoma would fare in Baker Mayfield's absence, the Sooners put those fears to rest quickly in their 63–14 victory over Florida Atlantic.
Junior running back Rodney Anderson put his speed on display, scoring the Sooners' first touchdown of the game on a 30-yard run to the right side. Early in the second quarter, Anderson was back at it, pushing past defenders to score a 65-yard touchdown.
Anderson was pulled in the second quarter after racking up 100 yards with two touchdowns on five carries, but as the Sooners’ quality of competition rises, he will see a full four-quarter workload as the tip of the spear for the Oklahoma offense.
West Virginia QB Will Grier
Grier already had the inside track on being the first quarterback off the board in the 2019 NFL draft, and he laid the foundation for a Heisman Trophy case Saturday, recording his first 400-yard passing game.
The Mountaineers had an up-and-down first half against a Tennessee team playing its first game under head coach Jeremy Pruitt, but turned things around after a one-hour weather delay during halftime. Grier came back in the second half to connect with David Sills V for a 33-yard touchdown, and West Virginia found their momentum to record a 40–14 victory over Tennessee.
Grier completed 25 of 34 passes for 429 yards and five touchdowns, capped off by another Sills TD with 2:02 left.
In a stellar 2017 campaign, Grier threw for 34 touchdowns (18 to Sills) and 3,490 yards last year. He recorded the second-most touchdowns in school history and eighth most in the nation before a broken finger ended his season early.
Ohio State DE Nick Bosa
Ohio State junior defensive end Nick Bosa had an impressive game Saturday, recording four tackles and two sacks in a 77–31 win over Oregon State.
Bosa also had two forced fumbles, one of which came in the end zone with 1:13 left in the second quarter, giving the Buckeyes a 28-point lead heading into the break. It was Bosa's first touchdown of his collegiate career.
Last season, Bosa had 34 tackles and nine sacks, earning Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year honors.
Bosa, the younger brother of former Ohio State star and current Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa, is one of several defensive linemen who could have the talent to make a darkhorse Heisman case. If he snags the award, Bosa would become the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy since Charles Woodson in 1997.
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa
After head coach Nick Saban listed sophomore Tua Tagovailoa and junior Jalen Hurts as co-starters, speculation built up over who would open Saturday's game.
Tagovailoa got the starting bid in Alabama's season opener against Louisville. In his opening series, Tagovailoa connected with wide receiver Jerry Jeudy on an 11-yard touchdown pass. The quarterback went on to add another touchdown run from nine yards out later in the quarter.
Tagovailoa was electric in the first half, going 11-for-15 through the air for 195 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 26 yards and one TD.
Hurts, who was benched during the College Football Playoff final in January for Tagovailoa, split time with the sophomore during the first three quarters.
Alabama coasted to a 51-14 victory over Louisville, where Tagovailoa went 12-for-16 with 227 passing yards. He will definitely be a Heisman candidate to keep an eye on this season.