Brett McMurphy’s Heisman Ballot: Tua Tagovailoa Faces First Test

The suspense is killing me: is this the week we actually – dare I say it? – see Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa play in the fourth quarter? It hasn’t happened yet, but with the Crimson Tide visiting LSU Saturday night, it should be the toughest test for Tagovailoa – and Bama – this season.

Tagovailoa had a week off to rest his right knee strain. Saturday’s date with LSU could strengthen his already vise-like grip on the Heisman. However, if Tagovailoa proves he’s human and, you know, throws his first interception of the season or struggles against the Tigers, it could open the door for a number of contenders.

As far as who’s Tagovailoa’s closest competition, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray is considered the consensus No. 2, while Washington State’s Gardner Minshew moves into my Top 3 for the first time all season.

Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State, and Will Grier of West Virginia round out my Top 5 and could make a run by leading their respective teams to a conference title in the season’s final few weeks.

I will update my list each Tuesday. However, I will not reveal my official Heisman ballot in the first week of December. The Heisman trust prohibits Heisman voters from disclosing their ballot until after the Heisman ceremony on Dec. 8.


My current top five:

1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

Tagovailoa didn’t play last week and is the only quarterback among the nation’s top 100 in yards per game that has yet to throw an interception this season. His 25 TD passes are tied for the sixth-most in the country, even though he hasn’t played in the fourth quarter this season.

Up next: Alabama visits LSU Saturday.

2. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

Last week, Murray put together another monster game, this time vs. Kansas State – 352 yards passing, three TDs. As solid as Tagovailoa is as the top choice, Murray is pretty much locked in as the Heisman runner-up at this point of the season. Murray ranks sixth in the nation in total offense (350 yards per game) with 28 TDs and three interceptions.

Up next: Oklahoma visits Texas Tech Saturday.

3. Gardner Minshew, Washington State

I was ahead of the curve as far as identifying Minshew as a legit Heisman candidate weeks ago. This week, he moves into the Top 3 on my ballot. Minshew still leads the nation in passing yards per game (398) along with completions (37) and attempts (52) per game as the Cougars continue their run to the Roses and the Pac-12 title.

Up next: Washington State hosts Cal.

If the Heisman would expand its ballot to five players (something I’ve been a proponent for to get more players to New York and asked the Heisman trust to consider – unfortunately they said no):

4. Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

Ohio State was off last week. Haskins is averaging 446 yards in his last three games, including a career-high 470 yards in the Buckeyes’ last contest at Purdue two weeks ago. Haskins’ 30 TD passes are tied with Hawaii’s Cole McDonald as the most in the nation.

Up next: Ohio State hosts Nebraska Saturday.

5. Will Grier, West Virginia

Grier broke out of a two-game slump with a 353-yard, three touchdown game against Baylor last week. For the season, Grier has 25 TDs and seven interceptions while ranking fifth nationally, averaging 325 yards passing a game. Grier can strengthen his case to get an invite to New York City with a big statement game this weekend in a matchup of Big 12 leaders.

Up next: West Virginia at Texas Saturday.

Others who could move into my top five (in alphabetical order):

D’Eriq King, Houston

Trace McSorley, Penn State

McKenzie Milton, UCF

Rondale Moore, Purdue

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

My Heisman winner for last week:

D’Eriq King, Houston