We’re approaching the Heisman finalists announcement on Dec. 3 and we are deep enough into the season to make some educated guesses about who might have their name called when the ballots are counted.
Here are the four players leading the Heisman race after Week 8:
Tua Tagovailoa — QB, Alabama
If the trophy were handed out today, it’d be hard to see anyone but Tagovailoa holding it. The sophomore quarterback has yet to play in a fourth quarter this season, but has 2,066 yards on an absurd average of 13.6 yards per attempt and a .704 completion percentage, 25 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. No Heisman-winning quarterback has ever finished with fewer than two interceptions on the season. If that’s not enough to convince you of Tagovailoa’s efficiency, consider this: Since 2000, 15 quarterbacks have won the Heisman. Those 15 have an average passing efficiency rating of 167.2. Last year, Baker Mayfield’s mark of 198.9 set the record for this century. Tagovailoa is currently at 238.8.
Kyler Murray — QB, Oklahoma
If anyone can challenge Tagovailoa, it’s probably Murray. Remember that average passer efficiency rating of 167.2? Well Murray is at 224.9. Other than Tagovailoa, Murray is the only player above a 190 rating. And unlike Tagovailoa, Murray is a legitimate dual-threat. He’s no Lamar Jackson, but the Oklahoma signal-caller has 428 yards and five touchdowns on the ground this season, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. In total, Murray is averaging 343.6 yards per game — 70 more than Tagovailoa.
Dwayne Haskins — QB, Ohio State
Through Week 8, Haskins leads the FBS in passing yards (2,801) and passing touchdowns (30). All that comes with just five interceptions in 315 attempts — four more attempts than Murray and Tagovailoa combined. The Purdue loss in Week 8 was a bad look for Ohio State, but Haskins put up 470 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception (on a ridiculous 73 pass attempts). He’ll be hard-pressed to outperform the efficiency of Murray and Tagovailoa, but if he continues to put up monstrous numbers like he has this year, he’ll certainly be in the conversation come December.
Travis Etienne — RB, Clemson
Seven games through the season, Etienne has more yards and touchdowns than he had all of last year. The sophomore running back is averaging 114.4 yards and two touchdowns per game for the undefeated No. 2 team in the country. Still, he’s got some work to do. The last six running backs to win the Heisman averaged 2,002.8 yards on the season. If Clemson plays every available game this season (ACC championship, CFP semifinal and championship), Etienne would need to average 149.9 yards in each to reach 2,000. But if he kept up his scoring pace, he’d finish with 30 touchdowns — the most by a running back since Barry Sanders’ 37 in 1988, and far above the average of 23.3 for the past six Heisman-winning backs. If you’re not convinced he can keep it up, consider the fact that Etienne has picked up three touchdowns in each of his last three games. At that rate, he’d have 38 on the season. Sorry, Barry.