It wasn’t the play of any Heisman contendors that made waves, a splash or any other oceanic analogy in our Heisman race. It was one injury that not only dramatically ended a player’s Heisman campaign, but shifted the whole Heisman conversation.
With only two weeks left in the regular season, several of our candidates are still vying to secure their teams’ spot in the College Football Playoff with rivalry games and marquee matchups looming. However, after the aforementioned injury, one team is going to have to do it without their Heisman contender.
Here’s the Week 13 update:
Tua Tagovailoa — Quarterback, Alabama
Alabama’s junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa might go down in history as one of the best college football players to not win the Heisman.
A year after the decision to award the Heisman to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, Tagovailoa stands to fall short yet again, this time to LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. With Tagovailoa sidelined indefinitely and his Heisman hopes dwindling, it appears his incredible championship-winning Alabama legacy has come to an end.
But while Alabama’s championship hopes may have suffered a severe blow with the loss of Tagovailoa for the year, don’t write off the Tide just yet. Remember, head coach Nick Saban has won championships with Greg McElroy, A.J. McCarron and Cooper Bateman, only one of whom is in the NFL.
Tagovailoa’s season may be over, but his legacy isn’t.
Joe Burrow — Quarterback, LSU
With Tagovailoa out indefinitely with a hip injury, the Heisman is Burrow’s to lose. Barring consecutive dreadful performances against rival Arkansas or Texas A&M, Burrow’s unbelievable season appears to have firmly fastened his place as the best quarterback in LSU history. Burrow has all but secured a spot for LSU in the College Football Playoff.
But while Burrow seems a lock for college football’s most prestigious award, his upcoming game against Arkansas shouldn’t be overlooked. The Razorbacks haven’t won an SEC matchup since 2017, but, as we’ve seen this season, the hyper-competitive league poses upset opportunities weekly. As Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said following an upset loss to South Carolina, “When you play in the SEC, guys, every week you’ve got to be at your best because every team is 100% capable of out-physicaling you and outplaying you.”
Jalen Hurts — Quarterback, Oklahoma
Jalen Hurts and the Sooners avoided another upset this week, coming back from an early 28-3 deficit to knock off undefeated Baylor and take command of the Big 12. Hurts demonstrated the level of excellence he’s performed at all season, throwing for nearly 300 yards along with four touchdowns.
With only two regular-season games remaining, however, Hurts is quickly running out of opportunities to catch front-runner Joe Burrow.
Justin Fields — Quarterback, Ohio State
Justin Fields and Ohio State’s season sounds like something from an ESPN “30 for 30” trailer:
What if I told you that Ohio State would score 56 points on only 34 pass attempts? It seems improbable and nearly impossible, but that’s the level of dominance Justin Fields and the Buckeyes have demonstrated all season.
Saturday against Rutgers was no different. Incredibly, it marked the first time this season Fields has thrown for over 300 yards, but his remarkable efficiency has kept him in the Heisman conversation. Fields holds the second-highest quarterback rating in the FBS at 93.8, and has increased his touchdown-interception ratio to 31-1.
Fields may not be the Heisman front-runner, but his next two games against Penn State and Michigan are essential to building Ohio State’s Playoff résumé.