Almost all college football talk revolves around Clemson and Alabama, and the Heisman Trophy race is no different as Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Crimson Tide signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa have separated from their peers as the regular season draws near.
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Will Lawrence or Tagoviloa end the run of Oklahoma QB Heisman winners?
Lawrence, who took over the Tigers offense full-time after four games and led Clemson to a perfect 15-0 record and College Football Playoff title, is the frontrunner at +250. He threw for 3,280 yards and 30 touchdowns against only four interceptions as a freshman in 2018 and saved his best for last by shredding Alabama’s defense in the national championship game.
Tagovailoa, the 2018 Heisman runner-up to Kyler Murray and clear-cut second choice at +275, helped the Crimson Tide reach the CFP title game for the fourth straight year. He is the unquestioned No. 1 QB in Tuscaloosa after Hurts transferred to Oklahoma. Tagovailoa threw for 3,966 yards and 43 TDs with only six INTs last season and has a stud No. 1 receiver in Jerry Jeudy — the junior racked up 68 catches for 1,315 yards and 14 TD catches.
Hurts tries to extend run of Heisman-winning QBs at Oklahoma
Only three schools have had different Heisman Trophy winners in back-to-back years, and Oklahoma became the third last year when Murray followed 2017 winner Baker Mayfield. Hurts is hoping to make it three in a row following his arrival in Norman.
Hurts is a longshot at +1,000, but he was a dual threat in his two seasons as a full-time starter with Alabama, throwing for more than 2,000 yards and rushing for over 800 in both 2016 and 2017. Those skill sets should translate well in Sooners coach Lincoln Riley’s up-tempo offense because Murray threw for 4,361 yards and rushed for 1,001 more while totaling 54 touchdowns before becoming the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.
Herbert, Etienne, Dillon among sleepers
Lawrence and Tagovailoa are on the minds of every Heisman voter, but there are others who could join them at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York. Justin Herbert (+2,500) bypassed the NFL draft and opted to return to Oregon in a wide-open Pac-12 after throwing for 3,151 yards and 29 TDs in 2018.
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor (+2,000) is looking to end a Heisman Trophy drought at the running back position that dates back to Alabama’s Derrick Henry winning in 2015. Taylor is an elite back, but without a top-notch QB, he may have to do too much.
Travis Etienne (+2,500) has one with Lawrence as a teammate. The Clemson running back finished seventh in Heisman voting last year and rushed for 1,658 yards and 25 touchdowns last year while averaging a gaudy 8.1 yards per carry. The pair, though, may wind up splitting votes if both have big seasons.
Boston College running back AJ Dillon (+5,500) could rack up yardage early with the Eagles playing a soft schedule. Injuries limited Dillon to 1,108 yards in 10 games last season, but he rushed for 1,589 yards and 14 TDs as a freshman in 2017.
(Trevor Lawrence photo courtesy Clemson Football official Twitter account)