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Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, and Ohio State teammates Chase Young and Justin Fields received honors as Heisman Trophy finalists this weekend. All four will also participate in the College Football Playoff. While that tournament won’t matter when the votes come in, it’s tough to pick one winner. Who should win? Let’s take a look at why each candidate should win, but also why they shouldn’t win the award.
2019 Heisman Trophy Finalists
QB Joe Burrow, LSU
Why he should win: He’s a quarterback having a phenomenal year on the top team in the country. His 48 touchdowns shattered the school record for touchdowns in a season, and he also added three touchdowns on the ground. All signs point towards Burrow winning the award, but it’s no guarantee. The Tigers offensive explosion brought them to the playoff, and Burrow’s the biggest reason why they’ve improved.
Why he shouldn’t win: For starters, the award shouldn’t be given out until after the season, but that’s not Burrow’s fault. If the Tigers lose in the semifinals to Oklahoma, or win and lose to Ohio State in the championship, Hurts or Fields should win. Postseason play should be considered when discussing the “best player in college football”, so that would be the only reason he shouldn’t win.
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Why he should win: Fields elevated the Buckeyes to a national contender, and brought the Buckeyes to their latest playoff appearance (first since 2016). Ohio State’s star quarterback scored 50 touchdowns this season while also competing with star running back J.K. Dobbins for scores (Dobbins had 20 touchdowns of his own). Again, postseason play should be considered, and a Buckeyes championship warrants a bump in his Heisman consideration.
Why he shouldn’t win: He doesn’t have the yards that the other quarterbacks. His touchdowns are right there with the other two, but he’s over 1,000 (almost 2,000) yards short of the other two. He’s a special talent and still one of the best, but Dobbins stole some production by also being great.
QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Why he should win: Stats aren’t the issue with Hurts, who’s numbers are competitive with Burrow’s. He rushed for 1,200 yards and 18 touchdowns, and added 32 touchdowns passing. He’s also the first quarterack to lead two different teams to the college football quarterback, and can reach the national championship for a fourth consecutive year. Again, consider the postseason, and he can win the award.
Why he shouldn’t win: Unlike the other three candidates, Hurts is the only one with a loss on his resume. Oklahoma lost to Kansas State earlier this year, and that might sway voters. Hurts wasn’t to blame in the loss, but the voters might knock him still for his team’s loss. Another reason to consider voting after the postseason. If a player gets knocked for a regular season loss, postseason games must be considered.
DE Chase Young, Ohio State
Why he should win: Chase Young’s one of the most dominant defensive football players we’ve ever seen. While his 21 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks are impressive, they don’t scratch the surface of Young’s impact. Basically unblockable, Young’s quarterback hits and hurries won’t be considered when the voting begins, but they’re what make him dominant. Even when teams schemed away from him, he still made an impact. The clip above shows how dangerous teams perceive him to be.
Why he shouldn’t win: Any defensive player named in the Heisman Trophy discussion isn’t serious. Young’s good, but this remains an offensive award (more specifically a quarterback award). His nomination is more a narrative than anything. The Heisman’s become a popularity contest, which is the biggest reason he’s here. Make no mistake, Young’s arguably the best player in college football, but he doesn’t have a shot of winning the Heisman.
RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Taylor’s received just 84 votes in the Heisman Trophy voting the last two years (for reference, Kyler Murray won last year with over 2,000). The Badgers star running back produced another phenomenal year, but failed to receive an invitation as a finalist for the third consecutive year. However, if this was his final season, he’ll end it as Wisconsin’s best running back ever.
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
Answer me this: Hubbard won Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, but didn’t get a Heisman invitation. That’s more proof that it’s a quarterback award, since Jalen Hurts didn’t win the award, but received an invitation to the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Hubbard’s 2,119 yards and 21 touchdowns elevated him to national prominence, but his team’s 8-4 record might have cost him a finalist spot.
LB Evan Weaver, Cal
Again, a defensive player never has a chance of winning, but we can still appreciate them. Weaver’s final season of college football was his best. He recorded career highs in tackles (172) and tackles for loss (11.5). His 172 tackles led the country as well. It’s not Heisman worthy, but the fact that we don’t acknowledge 172 tackles continues to be insane.