The Heisman Trophy isn’t about who is good in August, September or even October. The Heisman is about who is good when the lights are bright in November. It is about who can make the plays when the stage is the biggest and brightest. Saturday night two players answered that call, another showed he can withstand the heat and one withered.
Tua remains the favorite. He played for the first time in the fourth quarter all year and the game still wasn’t in doubt. Tua might be the best quarterback and best player in college this year but it is so hard to tell when he plays on a NFL team against “weaker” competition. Nine games into the season and Tua threw his first interception on his 179th pass attempt. For every other quarterback in this conversation, they surpassed 179 pass attempts weeks ago. There is something to be said about having the counting stats to go along with the wins.
Still, against LSU, the #3 team in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, Tua was very, very good. He finished 25-for-42 (59%) for 2 TD, 1 INT while adding 3 rushes for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Season Stats: 132/194 (68%), 2,361 yards, 27 touchdowns, 1 INT.
I think Grier re-established himself with this game. He’s had some clunkers but when the game mattered most, Grier did what Heisman-caliber players are supposed to do: make a play to win the game no matter the circumstance. Down 7 points, Grier lofted a rainbow pass to Gary Jennings over two Texas Longhorn players for the “game-tying” score. Instead of choosing to tie the game, Grier and head coach Dana Holgorsen opted to win or go home. Win they did. The Mountaineers ran a design QB draw, expecting that Texas would double David Sills to cover the slant. Grier darted forward but quickly noticed the interior was clogged, so he bounced to his left and crossed the goalline, giving WVU a 42-41 lead. For the game, Grier finished 28-for-42 (66.6%) for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns (0 INT).
Season Stats: 210/303 (69.3%), 2,964 yards, 31 touchdowns, 7 INT
Game on the line and Will Grier throws a DIME…then gets the 2-point conversion pic.twitter.com/YB1BTYUUlt— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 3, 2018
Coming into “Statement Saturday” Murray was considered a player who could challenge Tua for the Heisman. Murray is a dynamic playmaker, capable of throwing for 300 yards while running for 100 yards. This dual-threat makes him the type of exciting player that often wins the Heisman trophy. Playing on the road, at night, in conference, something that has tripped up West Virginia Mountaineers, Texas Longhorns, and Ohio State Buckeyes in recent weeks, Murray was able to engineer enough drives to withstand a surging Texas Tech team. Murray wasn’t brilliant, throwing two interceptions and 15 incompletions in 35 throws, but Murray still won. He finished the game 20-for-35, 360 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions plus 100 yards rushing and a score. Many voters can forgive two interceptions when you put up 460 total yards and 4 touchdowns. It should be noted, with Oklahoma’s vast blue-blood experience, this was the first time, EVER, that an OU quarterback threw for 300 and rushed for 100 in a single game.
Season Stats: 174/253 (68.7%), 3,049 yards, 31 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 574 rushing yards, 7 TD.
Haskins early in the season had Ohio State Buckeyes looking like they were a Playoff contender and a team that could challenge the Alabama Death Star, but now after Purdue throttled the Buckeyes, Haskins has struggled. Against the 2-win Nebraska Huskers, Haskins struggled, completing only 18 of his 32 passes, for 252 yards, 2 TD and an interception, plus two lost fumbles. Haskins turnovers directly led to Nebraska scores and made the game a nail-biter. When the lights are bright and the pressure is on, big time players make big time plays in big time games. Haskins didn’t.
Season Stats: 242/347 (69.7%), 3,053 yards, 32 TD, 6 INT.