Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins were announced Monday as finalists for this year’s Heisman Trophy.
The three will attend the ceremony in New York on Saturday night when college football’s top individual award is handed out.
Murray and Tagovailoa have been the front-runners for most of the season. They will face off on the field when Alabama and Oklahoma meet in one of the College Football Playoff semifinals in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29.
Tagovailoa already has one memorable playoff performance to his credit when he led the Crimson Tide past Georgia in last year’s title game. He might soon have another, but he might not have the lock he seemed to have on the Heisman. Murray overtook him in the final USA TODAY Network Heisman survey, and he could be on the verge of becoming the second Oklahoma quarterback in as many years to take home the statue.
Murray received a season-high 12 of 16 first-place mentions after concluding his regular season with a victory in the Big 12 championship game against Texas. He enters the College Football Playoff with 4,945 yards of total offense, 4,053 passing, and 51 total touchdowns. If he does indeed succeed Baker Mayfield as the Heisman recipient, those two would be the first back-to-back winners from the same school since Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush from Southern California, though the latter’s 2005 award was subsequently vacated.
Tagovailoa was still listed on all 16 surveys from the network. But his first-place votes dipped to a season-low four after struggling against Georgia and eventually having to leave the game with an ankle injury. He did throw his 37th touchdown pass of the season before being hurt and finished the regular season with 3,353 passing yards. But he was intercepted twice in a game for the first time all season, doubling his total to four for the campaign.
Haskins, who set a Big Ten record with 47 touchdown passes, is solidly in third place after leading the Buckeyes to the Big Ten title.
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SOURCE: USA Today, by Eddie Timanus