Heading into championship weekend, most of college football seemed to think superhuman Tua Tagovailoa had it in the bag to win the Heisman Trophy. While Oklahoma's Kyler Murray also made a strong campaign for the award, Tagovailoa put up big numbers each week to keep a firm grasp on the lead spot.
However, the Alabama starter struggled Saturday in the SEC championship game, making people wonder if Murray could take home the illustrious award over Tagovailoa after all.
Tagovailoa, Murray and Dwayne Haskins are expected to be named the three Heisman finalists when the list comes out Dec. 3. All three quarterbacks won their conference championship games Saturday, stregthening their cases for an invitation to the ceremony in New York City on Dec. 8.
While we wait to see who makes the short list, here's how the projected Heisman finalists fared in championship weekend:
Tua Tagovailoa, Sophomore, QB, Alabama
This week's stats: 10 for 25, 164 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs in win vs. Georgia
Season stats: 3,353 yards, 37 TDs, 4 INTs
Tagovailoa looked the most human he has all season in a rough outing Saturday. Despite winning 35–28 over Georgia, backup Jalen Hurts led the Tide in the come-from-behind victory for the SEC title. Tagovailoa lacked his usual efficiency, completing only 10 of 25 pass attempts and throwing for one touchdown. The sophomore signal caller also threw two interceptions—the same number he had for the season entering Saturday's game. While Tagovailoa has struggled with knee injuries this year, his ankles proved to get the best of him this time around. Tagovailoa threw an interception and twisted his left ankle in the first quarter as Bulldogs defenders brought him to the turf. In the fourth, he exited the game with a right ankle injury after being stepped on by his own lineman. That set the stage for Hurts's heroics and possibly put the final nail in Tagovailoa's Heisman coffin.
Kyler Murray, Junior, QB, Oklahoma
This week's stats: 25 for 34, 379 yards, 3 TDs in win vs. Texas
Season stats: 4,053 yards, 40 TDs, 7 INTs
Tagovailoa's downfall may only mean Murray's rise to the top of the Heisman leaderboard. Murray put together a solid body of work en route to Oklahoma's 39–27 Big 12 championship win over Texas. He threw three TDs for 379 yards and rushed for 39 yards on 10 carries. The Big 12 offensive player of the year has rushed for 892 yards and 11 scores this season, making him unstoppable in the air and on the ground. It was his accuracy that contributed to a thrilling moment to secure Oklahoma's lead over the Longhorns. Ahead only 32–27 with 2:00 left on the clock, Murray connected with Grant Calcaterra on an 18-yard touchdown pass to double the Sooners' lead. Calcaterra stretched out his arm to make an incredible one-handed catch in the end zone with a Texas defender nearly on top of him.
Dwayne Haskins, Sophomore, QB, Ohio State
This week's stats: 34 for 41, 499 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT in win vs. Northwestern
Season stats: 4,502, 46 TDs, 8 INTs
Haskins got off to a hot start Saturday, leading the Buckeyes to a touchdown on the opening drive. On the next possession, he hit Parris Campbell for a 17-yard completion to pass Denard Robinson for the Big Ten single-season all-purpose yards record. Robinson set the mark of 4,272 all-purpose yards in 2010, his sophomore season at Michigan. Despite a close score during most of the second half, Ohio State pulled away with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to take home the Big Ten title 45–24 over Northwestern. Haskins put on a Heisman–worthy performance, throwing for 499 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. He even struck a Heisman pose near the game's end. Haskins was named the Big Ten offensive player of the year this week after setting conference records for passing yards and touchdowns in a single season. Despite his record-setting season and Saturday's win, Haskins still sits safely in the group of finalists but is considered a longshot to win the award over Tagovailoa or Murray.