The drama was only there to build suspense for prime-time television show. The result was truly never in question, only the margin of victory, thanks to Lamar Jackson's late slide.
As expected, the Louisville sophomore quarterback hoisted the 82nd Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, beating out Clemson's Deshaun Watson by 620 votes to become the award's youngest recipient at 19.
The Cardinals QB racked up 526 first-place votes to Watson's 269, giving him eighth-highest percentage of possible points in history at 79.5.
"To the Heisman voters, I'm truly honored and humbled to be the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner," said Jackson. "To be able to stand up here with all these other Heisman Trophy winners, I'm extremely proud to represent this class and the University of Louisville with their first Heisman Trophy."
It was a win total that paled in comparison to that of Marcus Mariota in 2014 (1,284 points) or Jameis Winston in '13 (1,504) despite Jackson's spectacular numbers -- nearly 5,000 yards of offense and 51 touchdowns -- and not having a true challenger until the final weeks of the season.
That was a door the Louisville QB opened, however how slightly, with back-to-back losses to Houston and Kentucky to end the season, while Watson took the Tigers to an ACC championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
In the end, Watson may have denied Jackson a monumental win in terms of first-place votes as the Louisville star claimed just 59.6 percent, a figure that doesn't even crack the top 10. But he couldn't stop the inevitable as Jackson claimed every region.
Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield came in third (361), followed by his teammate Dede Westbrook (209) and Michigan's Jabrill Peppers (208). Interestingly, the gap between Peppers and the first man left out of the ceremony, Washington's Jake Browning was a mere 26 points, trailing only 2000's 18 points for smallest figure since they began inviting players to the ceremony in 1982.
Jackson's point margin of victory was in line with that of the last player to end his regular season with a pair of losses in Notre Dame's Tim Brown, who won by 611 points in 1987. But for all his dominance this season, as Jackson became the fourth Power 5 player with 20 touchdowns passing and 20 rushing in the seams season, he was still left off of 41 of the 882 ballots cast (929 are sent out).
Now comes the truly difficult part: outrunning history.
As the latest challenger to try and join Archie Griffin as the only two-time winner -- a feat Billy Sims, Ty Detmer, Jason White, Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Johnny Manziel, and most recently, Jameis Winston tried and failed to equal -- here's at look at Jackson and the others vying for the 2017 Heisman.
NOTE: Missing from this list are the likes of Florida State's Dalvin Cook, Miami's Brad Kaaya, Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, Michigan's Jabrill Peppers and North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky, who have not made their NFL decisions yet, but are likely to enter the draft.
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1. Jalen Hurts, Alabama QB
Get ready for what figures to be the most compelling battle within the battle for next year's trophy. Who wins the South voting region will be riveting as it's home to the reigning winner in Jackson, along with the Crimson Tide's dual-threat QB. Should Hurts help Alabama to another national title he'll have the leg up over Jackson going into the fall in this chase.
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2. Lamar Jackson, Louisville QB
Why No. 2? Well, for one, he'll be dealing with Hurts as the poster boy of the nation's top team, an entirely new set of expectations as the defending winner, and there's the fact that the Cardinals defense will be down at least seniors DeAngelo Brown, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey (with five other draft-eligible players on the first-string). The numbers won't matter as much for Jackson in his follow-up bid as he needs to keep Louisville in the College Football Playoff conversation.
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3. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State QB
After helping an ultra-young Buckeyes team make the CFP, Barrett will be at the helm of an offense that could return 10 starters next season. Stacked up against the stats of the last five QBs to win -- an average of 4,727 yards and 48 -- he'll need to increase in production as Barrett has never had more than 3,772 yards and 45 scores in his two healthy seasons.
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4. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB
If history is our guide, Mayfield may be in the best position of anyone on this list. Six times a player has won a year after finishing third compared to just once for a runner-up since 1967 (Herschel Walker in 1982). He'll surely miss having Dede Westbrook to throw to, but the nation's most efficient passer could have nine other starters back with him in Norman.
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5. Sam Darnold, USC QB
Had he been given the starting job from the jump, Darnold could have made an intriguing case to reach the ceremony. He gave us a taste of what's to come as a redshirt freshman, becoming the first Trojans QB with back-to-back five-TD games and he's the program's second passer with multiple TDs in eight consecutive games. The last? That would be 2004 Heisman winner Matt Leinart.
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6. Jake Browning, Washington QB
He led his team to the CFP, and could elevate his profile should he and the Huskies knock off heavy favorite Alabama in the Peach Bowl. Fifth in FBS in pass efficiency (176.5), Browning threw for 42 TDs, which was one off the Pac-12 record, but he had a ho-hum November with four of his seven interceptions. He'll need consistency in 2017, because in terms of the Pac-12 -- and the West voting region -- Browning is going to have to beat out Darnold at the conference's glamour program.
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7. Deondre Francois, Florida State QB
More than likely, no more Dalvin Cook in Tallahassee, which means there will be more of a focus on Francois offensively. It also means he'll no longer have arguably the best RB in program history taking pressure off of him. Francois impressed in his rookie season, becoming the ninth Seminoles QB with more than 3,000 yards, joining '13 Heisman winner Jameis Winston.
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8. Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech QB
In his first season with the Hokies, Evans set program records for TD passes (27) and passing yards in a season (3,309), and now he'll have another full offseason to digest more of coach Justin Fuente's playbook. He's likely to lose some talented targets, with Bucky Hodges, Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips all draft eligible, but after getting helping Virginia Tech become nationally relevant again, Evans has given himself a strong foundation for '17.
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9. Shane Buechele, Texas QB
The impact new coach Tom Herman has on the strong-armed Buechele, who threw for 2,958 yards and 21 TDs to 11 interceptions as a rookie, will be riveting. Buechele was rarely asked to run in Charlie Strong's offense, with six games of 15 or more yards, but he ran for over 1,700 yards in high school, including 817 as a senior. Considering what Herman did with Greg Ward Sr. at Houston and Barrett and Co. at Ohio State, Buechele could show off that aspect of his game immediately.
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10. Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB
Among Power 5 running backs expected to be back on campus next season, only Arkansas' Rawleigh Williams (1,326) had more yards than Barkley's 1,302 yards to go along with 16 touchdowns. He'll likely fight for attention with his QB, Trace McSorley, but key for Barkley is going to be making 100-yard games a habit as he had just four this season.