As expected, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa are the lone finalists for the 2018 Heisman Trophy. The announcement was made Monday evening on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown.
The All-QB group guarantees the Heisman will go to a quarterback for the third consecutive year, the eighth time in nine years and the 16th time since 2000.
Based on the statistics alone, Murray would seem a shoo-in to win the stiffarm trophy. The Allen, Texas, native is on pace to break the single-season FBS passing efficiency record — a record Baker Mayfield set en route to winning the Heisman last year — by completing 70.9 percent of his 340 passes for 4,053 yards (an eye-popping 11.7 yards per attempt) with 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions for the Big 12 champions. In addition to rushing 123 times for 892 yards in 11 touchdowns, Murray is the first player in FBS history to average 300 passing yards and 60 rushing yards per game.
If Murray wins, Oklahoma will become the first program to have two separate players win consecutive Heismans since Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis did it for Army in 1945-46.
Tagovailoa would’ve been the runaway winner had the Heisman been awarded Nov. 1, but has seen his candidacy slip — just a bit — while Murray’s has risen. (As evidence, Tagvailoa led The Athletic‘s straw poll of 34 Heisman voters all season, until this week’s edition.) Still, the Alabama quarterback ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency, completing 67.7 percent of his 294 passes for 3,353 yards (good for 11.4 yards per attempt) with 37 touchdowns against four interceptions while running 190 yards for another five touchdowns.
As the quarterback for a Big Ten champion Ohio State team, Haskins would be a clear frontrunner in plenty of other years but appears to be a clear bronze medalist this season. He leads Murray and Tagovailoa in overall passing stats, throwing for 4,580 yards with 47 touchdowns. Hitting 70.2 percent of his passes for 9.2 yards an attempt, Haskins places fourth in passing efficiency nationally, which makes him better than all but three opposing quarterbacks but third in this three-horse race.