Heisman Watch: Week 8

Story posted October 17, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeremy Ganes

The college football season is in full swing, and we are deep into the conference schedule as well. Some early season candidates for the Heisman Trophy have since faltered, either with poor individual showings or disappointing team losses. Strong candidates such as West Virginia’s Will Grier and Penn State’s Trace McSorley have seen their chances fade following clunkers last weekend. Let’s look at the players who have managed to separate themselves from the pack so far this season:

Tua Tagovailoa , QB Alabama

Tagovailoa still remains the favorite as Alabama continues to steamroll a relatively weak schedule, but Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins is catching up every week. Tagovailoa is up to 1760 passing yards on the season, with a 71 percent completion rate, 21 touchdowns and still zero interceptions. It is crazy to fathom a player producing this much and making so few mistakes. While the lack of stiff competition for the Crimson Tide remains a fair criticism, at least until it visits LSU in Death Valley, Tagovailoa has performed best in Alabama’s biggest game this year. The sophomore QB threw for four touchdowns and 387 yards in a home game against Texas A&M, by far the Tide’s biggest challenge so far. The results of the LSU road matchup and the Iron Bowl against Auburn will be the real litmus tests for Tagovailoa as the season progresses.

2. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

Haskins is in a virtual tie for frontrunner with Tagovailoa right now, which is no surprise since he has been producing similar numbers to the Alabama signal caller and is even better in some areas. Haskins has thrown for 2331 yards and 28 touchdowns. However, Haskins has made a few more mistakes than Tagovailoa, tossing four interceptions. Ohio State’s strength of schedule gives Haskins somewhat of an edge in this department with road games against TCU and a huge win over Penn State on the road in primetime. Haskins’ downfield passing has been superb, averaging 9.63 yards per attempt. Ohio State still has some big matchups coming up as they look to finish out their regular season. Haskins will get a chance to bolster his Heisman campaign this week as the Buckeyes travel to West Lafayette, Ind. to face a Purdue team in yet another primetime bout. Purdue has a sneaky good offense of its own, so Haskins may need to register a Heisman moment type game to win. Ohio State also has a road matchup against Michigan State and its big rivalry game against Michigan, both prime chances for Haskins to bolster his Heisman campaign.

3. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Murray is a notch below Tagovailoa and Haskins in this race, but nonetheless, the Oklahoma gunslinger has made a strong Heisman case for himself thus far. Murray is also ridiculously accurate, completing over 70 percent of his passes like his two big Heisman competitors and is just as dangerous, passing for 1764 yards and 21 touchdowns. Murray has also done plenty of damage on the ground, rushing for 377 yards and five touchdowns. He has looked uneven at times and was largely held in check in the overtime win over Army. The loss to Texas before the bye week was no fault of Murray’s though as he passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Oklahoma still has to play at TCU, Kansas State at home and at West Virginia to close the season. Murray can still put himself in a position to get an invite to New York with a few more big performances.

 

Jeremy Ganes is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jlg6097@psu.edu.