Heisman Trophy Watch: Tua Tagovailoa Gets Banged Up, Looks Human Against Mississippi State

Tua Tagovailoa looked less like a superhero during a bruising afternoon against Mississippi State.
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Week 11 saw Heisman candidates Kyler Murray and Will Grier continue to put on stat-stuffing shows, while frontrunner Tua Tagovailoa turned in a stat line that looked merely solid for the first time all year. Battling an ongoing knee injury, Tagovailoa put up less than stellar numbers than usual before exiting the game with an apparent quad injury. Washington State's Gardner Minshew and UCF's McKenzie Milton re-entered Heisman talks after both threw two touchdown passes and added another on the ground.

Here's how the top five Heisman candidates fared in Week 11:

1. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

This week: 14 of 21, 164 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT in win over Mississippi State

Season stats: 2,525 yards, 28 TD, 2 INT

Alabama didn't run up the score as much as usual, but the defense helped lead the Crimson Tide to a 24–0 shutout of Mississippi State. Tagovailoa looked a little more human while taking quite the beating against the Bulldogs’ talented defensive front. Tagovailoa only threw one touchdown and his second pick of the season before exiting the game after taking a hard hit to the upper leg late in the third quarter. Tagovailoa gingerly got up after that hit and entered the medical tent. Tagovailoa has been nursing an injured right knee since early October (a sack by Willie Gay Jr. appeared to tweak that knee earlier in the third quarter), which may be the only thing that can slow him down this year.

2. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

This week: 21 of 29, 349 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 14 carries, 66 yards, 0 TD in win over Oklahoma State

Season stats: 3,038 yards, 32 TD, 5 INT

Murray strafed the Cowboys’ defense as the Sooners held on to a 48–47 win in Bedlam. Oklahoma State took its first lead of the game at 35–34 early in the third quarter but didn't hold onto it for very long: Two series later, Murray escaped the rush and connected with Marquise Brown on a 39-yard pass that set up Kennedy Brooks's five-yard touchdown run. Thanks to a fourth-quarter fumble and Oklahoma State's failed two-point conversion, Oklahoma held on for a win. Murray's dual-threat talent continued to keep the Sooners on track for a spot in the Big 12 title game.

3. Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

This week: 25 of 39, 343 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT in win over TCU

Season stats: 2,961 yards, 31 TD, 8 INT

West Virginia relied heavily on its running game to handle TCU 47–10, but Grier still racked up 343 yards and three touchdowns to strengthen his spot in Heisman voting. After a sloppy start, the Mountaineers scored three touchdowns in the final six minutes of the second quarter. Grier connected with Trevor Wesco on a 32-yard touchdown to put the Mountaineers up 24–3 at the half and later hit Marcus Simms for 53 yards to set up Kennedy McCoy's one-yard run in the third quarter. After last week's impressive last-minute touchdown and two-point conversion to beat Texas, Grier continues to assert his closer capabilities.

4. Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State

This week: 35 of 58, 335 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT in win over Colorado

Season stats: 3,852 yards, 29 TD, 7 INT

After a slow start in Boulder, the Cougars woke up with Minshew’s 28-yard pass to Max Borghi for their first touchdown of the afternoon. Minshew completed just 17 of 33 passes in the first half before going 18 for 25 in the second with an additional touchdown pass. The grad transfer even ran from 10 yards out to add a score on the ground in Washington State's 31–7 victory.

Minshew also provided one of the best moments of Week 11 when he put a fake mustache on Cougars coach Mike Leach after the game.

5. McKenzie Milton, QB, UCF

This week: 17 for 21, 200 yards, 2 TD; 7 carries, 62 yards, 1 TD in win over Navy

Season stats: 2,309 yards, 21 TD, 5 INT

UCF extended its unbeaten streak to 22 games with a 35–24 win over the foundering Midshipmen at home. McKenzie Milton and the Knights put up three touchdowns in the first half, including a 34-yard pass to Dredrick Snelson for a score. UCF led 21–3 at the half and held off a late Navy rally. On UCF's first possession in the second half, Milton capped off a 12-play, 75-yard series with a one-yard touchdown run. The junior reached 1,302 career rushing yards Saturday to become UCF's all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks, passing Daunte Culpepper.