The second week of the college football season is in the books, and several stars have put up the kind of eye-popping single-game performances that voters may cite when those players are invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York in early December. No two non-conference schedules are the same, so the quality of competition fluctuates wildly in September, but some names keep coming up as the field of 2018 candidates takes shape.
While Arizona’s Khalil Tate saw his Heisman candidacy come crashing down in a blowout loss to Houston, other Pac-12 playmakers stood out in Week 2, as Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert turned heads with his accuracy, Bryce Love got into gear and a hero emerged for Colorado in a renewal of the Buffaloes’ rivalry with Nebraska. Meanwhile, facing a Pac-12 defense, Oklahoma kept its quarterback at the center of the Heisman buzz with another banner day for Kyler Murray.
Here's how some of the top candidates fared in Week 2:
Oregon QB Justin Herbert
Herbert passed the 4,000-yard mark last week in an easy win over Bowling Green, tossing five touchdowns (while completing just 10 passes) and running for another score.
The junior improved upon a high-scoring but inefficient opener on Saturday against FCS foe Portland State, going 20-for-26 for 250 yards and four touchdowns while playing in just nine drives. One of his sharperst plays came in the second quarter, as Herbert ran out of the pocket to avoid Vikings defenders. Herbert flipped the ball to running back Tony Brooks-James for a nine-yard gain and the first down. The Ducks scored five plays later with on a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kano Dillon and went on to win, 62–14.
Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray
Oklahoma's offense continues to impress without Baker Mayfield at the helm. Junior quarterback Kyler Murray displayed his speed on Saturday in the Sooners' 49–21 win over UCLA, swerving past a linebacker on a 10-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
The quarterback showed off his accuracy as well with a 58-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise Brown. On third-and-14 in the first quarter, Brown escaped a would-be tackler and turned around to find Murray's pass across the middle coming right at him.
Murray finished 19-of-33 with 306 yards and five touchdowns.
Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor
Taylor continues to keep his name in Heisman discussions, taking control as the afternoon wore on in the Badgers' 45–14 win over New Mexico.
The sophomore ran the ball 33 times for three touchdowns and a career-high 253 yards. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Melvin Gordon was the last Badger with a 250-yard game. Gordon went for 251 yards against Auburn in the 2015 Outback Bowl.
In just two games this season, Taylor already has 398 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 7.8 yards per carry.
Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill
The Bulldogs had their sloppy moments en route to a 31–10 victory over Kansas State, but Hill had the game's most memorable performance with 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Early in the fourth quarter, Hill scored on a bruising 16-yard run after an eight-play, 76-yard drive to deliver a final punch to the Wildcats.
Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr.
The sophomore receiver helped Colorado spoil Scott Frost's debut with Nebraska. With 3:29 left in the fourth quarter and the Huskers clinging to a one-point lead, quarterback Adrian Martinez left the game with an injury. Nebraska failed to put together a scoring drive, giving Colorado a late shot to take the lead. Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez found Shenault for a 40-yard touchdown, putting Colorado up 33–28.
With 10 catches for 177 yards and one touchdown plus a rushing touchdown Saturday, in addition to 211 yards and a score in Week 1 against Colorado State, Shenault has become Montez's go-to receiver and could creep into Heisman talks if the Buffs continue to win.
Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins
Sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins did not let a rainy day in Columbus stop him from shining. After going for 300-plus yards and five touchdowns last week, Haskins followed that up with an equally impressive four-touchdown game. In the Buckeyes' 52–3 win over Rutgers, Haskins went 20-for-23 with 233 yards. The quarterback led the Buckeyes to the end zone five times on his seven drives.
Haskins and the Buckeyes will get their first big challege of the season when they face TCU next Saturday in Arlington.
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa
Starting his second career game, sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led Alabama to scoring drives on three of its first four series. His three touchdowns in the first quarter were the most thrown by an Alabama quarterback in a single quarter since AJ McCarron threw three in the second quarter against Auburn in 2012.
Tagovailoa passed for 225 yards and went 13-for-19 in Alabama's 57–7 win over Arkansas State.
Stanford RB Bryce Love
After being held in check by San Diego State in the Cardinal's season opener, last year's Heisman runner-up looked like he was back to his old self in a 17–3 win over USC, carrying it 22 times for 136 yards and a touchdown. Love's quiet 29-yard effort against the Aztecs would be overshadowed by his seasonlong body of work in the eyes of Heisman voters if he begins flashing the big-play ability that helped him rack up 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2017.