- While Tua Tagovailoa and Dwayne Haskins rested, Houston's electric quarterback D'Eriq King played the Cougars into New Year's Six consideration.
Week 9 of the 2018 Heisman Trophy race was all about dual threat quarterbacks. Oklahoma's Kyler Murray continued to show off his arm and his wheels in a 51–14 victory over Kansas State. But with multiple top contenders getting the week off on Saturday, Houston's D'Eriq King, a converted wide receiver running Kendal Briles’s breakneck attack, stepped into the fringe of the Heisman conversation with a dazzling performance.
Meanwhile, Gardner Minshew's Heisman stock skyrocketed with Washington State's late rally over Stanford. Minshew now leads the nation in passing yards at the helm of the new Pac-12 favorite.
Here are the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy through Week 9:
1. Tua Tagovailoa, Sophomore, QB, Alabama
This week: Bye
Season stats: 2,066 yards, 25 TDs, 0 INTs
With a bye this week, the Crimson Tide has plenty of time to prepare for their biggest challenge yet: No. 4 LSU in Baton Rouge. Alabama has glided to an 8–0 record without playing a top-10 opponent yet, and its only Top 25 win came against Texas A&M in Week 4. Tagovailoa will face a Tigers defense that ranks No. 5 in the nation in turnover margin with 19 takeaways and seven turnovers. Alabama has 17 takeaways with six turnovers.
2. Kyler Murray, Junior, QB, Oklahoma
This week: 19 for 24, 352 passing yards, 46 rushing yards, 3 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD, 0 INTs in win vs. Kansas State
Season stats: 2,302 yards, 28 TDs, 3 INTs
Murray and No. 8 Oklahoma got to work early against Kansas State, scoring on their opening drive with Murray's 35-yard pass to tight end Grant Calcaterra. The Sooners opened things up later in the first quarter when Murray connected with a wide-open CeeDee Lamb on an 82-yard touchdown. Murray also ran for 46 yards and added one rushing touchdown before taking a seat in the third quarter. Murray continues to impress Heisman voters with his ability to move ball through the air or on the ground, and Oklahoma hasn’t missed a beat without 2017 Heisman winner Baker Mayfield.
3. Will Grier, Senior, QB, West Virginia
This week: 17 for 27, 353 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs in win vs. Baylor
Season stats: 2,272 yards, 25 TDs, 7 INTs
Grier and No. 13 West Virginia bounced back from a shocking 30–14 loss to Iowa State with a huge win over Baylor. Grier and the Mountaineers' offense put up 41 points by halftime thanks to his 25- and 65-yard touchdown throws to David Sills V. The senior ended the second quarter by running for a one-yard score. After throwing three interceptions against Kansas and getting sacked seven times in Ames, Grier needed the victory over Baylor to keep his name in Heisman discussions.
4. Gardner Minshew, Senior, QB, Washington State
This week: 40 for 50, 438 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Season stats: 3,183 yards, 26 TDs, 6 INTs
Minshew's national profile has soared over the past two weeks, and he was stellar again in Washington State's 41–38 win over Stanford. With the game tied at the start of the fourth quarter, Minshew connected with Renard Bell for a three-yard touchdown to give the Cougars a 38–31 lead with 4:28 remaining. Stanford responded with a 25-yard score to tie the game. Minshew led the Cougars on a seven-play, 50-yard that ended with a 42-yard field goal from Blake Mazza to regain the lead. The grad transfer completed his first 19 passes to start the second half. James Williams's three-yard run cut Stanford's lead down to 28–24 before Washington State went on to add its late pair of touchdowns. Minshew now leads the nation in passing yards with 3,183, and if Washington State stays hot and makes a push for the playoff, he may get an invitation to New York for his efforts.
5. Dwayne Haskins, Sophomore, QB, Ohio State
This week: BYE
Season stats: 2,801 yards, 30 TDs, 5 INTs
In a 49–20 loss to Purdue last week, Haskins set Ohio State's single-game passing record with 470 yards. After seeing the Buckeyes struggle to run the ball effectively against the Boilermakers, some critics have pointed at Haskins’s lack of mobility as a hindrance to the type of attack Urban Meyer teams prefer. Ohio State visits Nebraska next but will face a tougher challenge against Michigan State the following week.
6. D'Eriq King, Junior, QB, Houston
This week: 28 for 40, 419 passing yards, 5 passing TDs, 134 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, 2 INTS in win vs. USF
Season stats: 2,403 yards, 28 TDs, 5 INTs
King and the Cougars knocked off previously unbeaten USF, 57–36, generating Heisman buzz for the quarterback that has been lighting it up for the AAC West division favorites. King had a career-high seven touchdowns, including a 47-yard touchdown run on the opening drive. After the Bulls tied it 21–21 in the second quarter, King responded by connecting with Courtney Lark on a 30-yard score. King's best moment came late in the third quarter when he escaped four defenders and spun out of a fifth tackle on a fourth-and-seven to add a 36-yard rushing touchdown. The score put the Cougars ahead 35–26 and created some separation from the Bulls.
King became the first FBS quarterback to record 400-plus passing yards, 100-plus rushing yards and seven touchdowns in a game since Mississippi State's Nick Fitzgerald in 2016.