NEW YORK – The 2018 Heisman Trophy may have been Tua Tagovailoa’s for the first three months of the season. But it will be Kyler Murray’s for the rest of history.
Oklahoma’s quarterback claimed the honor over Alabama’s star sophomore on Saturday night. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins finished a distant third.
“It’s very surreal. It hasn’t hit me yet,” Murray said. “This didn’t just happen. I put so much time and effort into this game. This is a great accomplishment, obviously, but I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for many people in my life.”
The competition between Tagovailoa and Murray was close. Murray received 2,167 points to Tagovailoa’s 1,871. Tagovailoa received the most points by a runner-up in the history of the award. He was included on 90 percent of overall ballots and received 299 first-place votes, the third-highest total ever for a runner-up. Haskins had 783 total points.
“They both had two historical seasons,” Murray said. “Dwayne is doing stuff, breaking Drew Brees‘ records and doing stuff that’s never been done. Tua is doing the same thing at Alabama. He’s got them more explosive than they ever have been. I would just say congratulations. It’s truly an honor.”
Murray received 517 first-place votes and was named on 92 percent of the ballots. He’s the seventh Sooner to win the award. It’s the second straight year an Oklahoma quarterback has won the award, following Baker Mayfield in 2017.
Murray’s statistics exceeded those of his Heisman-winning predecessor. The Sooner junior threw for 4,053 yards and 40 touchdowns against seven interceptions in 13 games this season. He also ran for 892 yards and 11 touchdowns. Mayfield threw for 4,627 yards in 14 games with 43 touchdowns and seven interceptions, adding 311 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
The Sooners emphasized his statistics in a campaign leading up to the voting for the trophy. Tagovailoa finished the first 13 games with 3,353 passing yards for a school-record 37 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He completed 67.7 percent of his passes and ran for five more touchdowns, but that wasn’t enough.
Tagovailoa’s 2018 campaign jumpstarted at the end of the 2017 season when he led Alabama back from a 13-0 halftime deficit against Georgia to win the national championship.
If it was Georgia that put Tagovailoa at the forefront of college football, it was also the Bulldogs that withheld him from the Heisman at the last moment. His final game before Heisman ballots were due was cut short by injury. Even before he left the game, he completed just 10 of his 25 passes for 164 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. It was the only game all season in which he threw more than one interception and also the only game in which he didn’t complete at least 54 percent of his passes.
Meanwhile, Murray helped Oklahoma avenge its only defeat of the season in a win over Texas to win the Big 12 championship. He went 25 of 34 for 379 yards with three touchdowns, rushing for 39 more yards. Tagovailoa had been the betting favorite to win the award for several weeks, but the odds flipped to Murray by Monday after the conference championships.
Tagovailoa led the race on ballots submitted before the games on conference championship weekend with 294 points to Murray’s 215 points. On the ballots submitted during the games on championship weekend and after, Murray received 1,952 points to Tagovailoa’s 1,577.
Tagovailoa’s statistics were limited early in the season when he rested in the second half of several overwhelming wins. He suffered a knee sprain against Arkansas in the sixth game of the season but continued to play. Before that, his numbers were transcendent. He had 18 touchdown passes in the first six games of the season against just 25 incomplete passes. He threw just three passes in the fourth quarter in Alabama’s first 12 games.
Murray and Tagovailoa have split many of college football’s most prestigious awards this season. The week began when Murray was named AP player of the year. On Thursday, Murray won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback while Tagovailoa won the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and the Maxwell Award, given to the nation’s best all-around player.
“If I win it, it’s awesome. If I don’t, it’s not the end of the world,” Tagovailoa said on Friday. “We’re just looking as a team to become the best we can be. We’re just trying to win another one.”
It won’t be the last time they go head to head. Alabama and Oklahoma are set to meet in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29 in a College Football Playoff Semifinal.
It’s also not the last opportunity for Tagovailoa to hoist the Heisman. Murray is expected to begin a professional baseball career after the season. Haskins could choose to enter the NFL draft. Tagovailoa will be a junior in 2019.
“He’s a tremendous talent and an even better dude off the field,” Murray said of Tagovailoa. “I’m glad I met him for the first time on Wednesday. I’m just thankful I got to be around him and Dwayne. I’m pretty positive that he will be back.”
The full voting results:
|Dwayne Haskins||Ohio State||46||111||423||783|
|Will Grier||West Virginia||4||17||80||126|
|Gardner Minshew||Washington State||6||15||74||122|
This story will be updated.