By Lenn Robbins
The Heisman Trophy has some very specific rules for its voters. Perhaps the most stringent is this: A voter cannot release his vote before the winner is announced. So, they’ll be no spoiler here.
What there is, however, is one conflicted voter.
Three of the four Heisman Trophy candidates are quarterbacks. Each makes a ridiculously strong case for winning the weighty 45-pound trophy, which is about one-one millionth of the pressure that comes with playing the glamour position at three of America’s most crazed college football schools.
In almost any other year any one of these quarterbacks would be considered a no-brainer to win the 13.5-inch trophy. This is no any other year.
Let’s consider these amateur athlete stat machines, in alphabetical order.
LSU’s Joe Burrow has had a statistical season for the ages – literally. His completion percentage of 77.9-percent is the best of all time. His passer rating, (you might want to sit for this), is 201.5 which is 11.5 shy of the temperature needed to boil water. Ouch!
Ohio State’s Justin Fields, in his first season as a starter, threw, (you might want to sit for this) 40 touchdowns and just one interception. Forty-to-one! Yikes! He threw at least two touchdown passes in every game, four TD passes in five games and three or more nine times.
Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts averaged 279.5 passing yards and 96.5 rushing yards and accounted for 51 touchdowns. His 19 touchdowns rushing and 114 points scored are tied with Navy’s Malcolm Perry for the most by a quarterback. Hurts (you might want to sit for this), rallied the Sooners from 25 points down at Baylor for a 34-31 win, the largest comeback in Oklahoma history. Geez!
At first glance, Burrow’s numbers give him a slight edge (feel free to argue any of these conclusions). But unlike Burrow, who played at LSU last season, Fields and Hurts had to acclimate after transferring, which is no easy task. In fairness to Burrow, LSU installed a completely new offense so all three had a lot of on-the-field adjusting to do.
Each has had to overcome adversity. Burrow started his career at Ohio State but after failing to win the starting job, transferred to LSU. Fields started his career at Georgia but after failing to win the starting job, transferred to Ohio State. Hurts was the started at Alabama, led the Crimson Tide to a national championship, but transferred to Oklahoma after getting beat out for the starting job by Tua Tagovailoa, who almost surely would be in New York if he didn’t suffer a season-ending hip injury.
So, you tell me: Who would you vote for?
Burrow led the Tigers to an undefeated season, the SEC championship and the No.1 seed in the upcoming College Football Playoff. Fields led the Buckeyes to an unbeaten record, the Big Ten title, and the No.2 seed in the CFP. Hurts led the Sooners to a 12-1 record, a fifth straight Big 12 crown, and the No.4 seed in the playoff.
Still confused? Me too.
So, just to muddle the waters, a defensive player is among the finalists that will come to New York on Dec. 14th for the announcement.
Chase Young was the Quarterback Ninja. Only Fields knows what’s it’s like to go against him on a consistent basis. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (he might want to sit for this) will try to avoid being Chased down when the Tigers and Buckeyes meet in their semifinal.
Young leads the nation with a school-record 16.5 sacks, the most in the Big Ten in 21 years. Young leads the nation in tackles for loss per game (1.91), is second with minus-129 yards on those tackles and is tied for fourth with 21 tackles for loss.
I can’t tell you who I voted for but I can tell you this: it was hard. Man was it hard.