Our MNC Wednesday miniseries has been scrutinizing Heisman Trophy history, and in 62 seasons overall, we have confirmed just 18 vote winners. It was nice last time out to confirm a winner for once, but we don’t get our hopes up for more of that any time soon, since we know the votes are skewed by shallow-thinking writers. They always have been, of course, but it seems to have gotten worse in the BCS/CFP era. We can only gue$$ why! Ha … no need to guess. Enjoy!

2018 Heisman Trophy winner: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma (original, confirmed)

In his only season as a starter, Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray stepped into the vacancy left by his predecessor to lead his team to a 12-1 record, a Big XII title, and a CFP berth. Murray did this by posting a 199.2 QB rating against the No. 8 SOS in the country. His raw numbers: 5,362 total yards for 54 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. His efficiency rating was second in the nation (barely; see below), and the video-game numbers are crazy amazing.

[We wrote a piece on this Oklahoma QB a long time ago, and while he hasn’t had a lot of success at the NFL level in terms of winning, he certainly has played a pretty efficient game at the pro level—despite taking a lot of hits.]

However, we have learned through strange ways that there are always other high-quality candidates to consider. This is our final list of firmly vetted Heisman candidates for the 2018 Heisman Trophy, and it is another short one:

  • Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: 4,156 total yards for 48 TDs and 6 INTs (No. 3 SOS)
  • Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson: 1,736 total yards and 26 TDs (No. 19 SOS)

Tagovailoa led the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 record, the SEC title, and a CFP berth on the back of a 199.4 QB rating—slightly better than Murray’s mark, against a little better slate of opponents. But Murray did a lot more statistical damage (see below). Etienne was a big reason for the Tigers going 13-0, winning the ACC, and qualifying for the CFP, but his numbers don’t jump off the page, and his SOS trails the two quarterbacks, for sure.

The two QBs above finished about 24 points higher than any other QB in efficiency rating, so this is going to come down to supporting casts:

  • Alabama: three RBs combined for 2,299 rushing yards and three WRs combined for 2,904 receiving yards
  • Oklahoma: two RBs combined for 2,003 rushing yards and two WRs combined for 2,476 receiving yards

It’s clear both QBs had plenty of weapons, and it’s clear the Crimson Tide had more of them, which is why Murray’s numbers are higher with the Sooners—including his 1,001 rushing yards. In essence, he was a third RB for Oklahoma, which was an added threat. Defensively, Alabama was No. 12 in scoring defense—and the Sooners were No. 101 in scoring defense. That means Murray had to do a lot more, anyway, because he couldn’t rely on an elite defense to save him.

Congratulations to Kyler Murray, the legitimate Heisman Trophy winner for 2018.