Heisman Watch Week Seven: Front-runners set for Red River Showdown

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Photo Credit: Rocky Higine | Daily Texan Staff

Aside fom the Top 10 matchup in Austin, Texas last month, most of the Heisman contenders have gone largely untested, though that will likely change soon. Until then, here is our Heisman watch list for Week Seven. 

Tua Tagovailoa

Quarterback, Alabama

Alabama might have been idle this week, but Tagovailoa still tops our Heisman watch list. 

The junior is still one of the top in the nation in total passing yards and remains second in quarterback rating behind only Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma. But Tagovailoa and the Tide are yet to be tested in what’s been a cakewalk of a schedule thus far.

Despite Alabama’s favorable schedule through five games, Tagovailoa’s numbers are still nothing short of incredible — 23 touchdowns, zero interceptions and over 1,700 yards passing.

If Tagovailoa can maintain this pace — and he should against a sputtering Texas A&M team — he’ll be a lock to become Alabama’s first Heisman winner since running back Derrick Henry in 2015. 

Jalen Hurts

Quarterback, Oklahoma

Oklahoma started slow but finished fast in its 45-20 victory over the last-place Kansas Jayhawks, although Jalen Hurts turned in his least impressive performance of the season. 

Hurts, much like the rest of the Sooner bunch, struggled in the first quarter. 

After a punt on Oklahoma’s first possession — something Oklahoma had not done in three out of their first four games — Hurts and the Sooners found their rhythm and rattled off 42 unanswered points. Hurts, however, struggled against the perennial bottom-feeders of the Big 12. 

The Alabama transfer produced season lows in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage to go along with his second interception of the season.

But the Red River Showdown presents an opportunity for a fresh start. This year’s matchup is a golden opportunity for Hurts to add to his Heisman statement, as Texas is Oklahoma’s only currently ranked opponent remaining on its schedule. 

But on the opposing sideline is junior Sam Ehlinger, Texas’ best quarterback since Colt McCoy, hungry for a Heisman moment of his own. Get ready for a shootout in Dallas.


Joe Burrow

Quarterback, LSU

LSU still hasn’t been tested since its Week Two trip to Austin, and it’s shown in its final scores. 

This season, behind the largest dark horse in the Heisman race, LSU and Burrow have transformed the Tiger offense into an unstoppable machine. Just ask Texas about third and 17.

Burrow has racked up more than 1,800 total passing yards and has yet to finish a game with a completion percentage under 70%, all while becoming LSU’s first Heisman-hopeful quarterback since JaMarcus Russell more than a decade ago.

But the Tigers welcome the Florida Gators to Death Valley this week for another top-10 matchup. 

Sam Ehlinger

Quarterback, Texas

It wasn’t pretty, but Ehlinger managed to get the job done in Morgantown during his second trip. 

The Longhorns struggled early on against the Mountaineers, and regularly called on Ehlinger to bail them out in the first half. Ehlinger answered the call time and time again during the Longhorns’ 42-31 victory over West Virginia, despite turning in his least impressive performance of the season — like Hurts. 

Saturday was the first game this season Ehlinger hasn’t thrown for at least three touchdowns, and he completed just over 50% of his passes. The junior also threw his second interception of the season.

But last week is behind Ehlinger. Oklahoma stands in front of him.

Last year’s showdown with the Sooners was Ehlinger’s debut party, proving to Longhorn fans that Texas was back, and this time was different. 

Last year’s win against Oklahoma spurred the Longhorns to their first 10-win season since 2009 and brought college football relevance back to Austin, something they hadn’t done since the last decade.

But enough about last year. This year’s showdown is the biggest matchup between the two schools since 2008, with both schools ranked inside the top 15 and touting Heisman-caliber quarterbacks. If last year’s game set any precedent, the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry is wild, unpredictable and fun. This year should be no different.