We remain course for a Tua Tagovailoa runaway Heisman Trophy win. With the Iron Bowl vs. Auburn this week and No. 5 Georgia the following weekend in the SEC Championship Game, the Alabama sophomore quarterback finds himself with right stages to seal the deal for the school's third award.
That being said, Oklahoma's Kyler Murray isn't just making things interesting. He's making a legit case, though without a major slip up by Tagovailoa, the biggest obstacle he may be facing is the Big 12 itself.
As noted on the brilliantly named KylerKnows.com -- a nod to his, like 1985 Heisman winner Bo Jackson, being a two-sport star, as Murray was picked in the first round by the Oakland A's -- Murray is the first FBS player in history to average 300 yards passing and 60 rushing for an entire season. His 344.9 yards per game of offense are third in FBS and he leads all Power 5 players with 264 points responsible for.
Now, stacking up Murray's overall stats and Tagovailoa's isn't exactly fair. While the Sooners QB is averaging 67.6 more yards of offense per game, he's also done so in 202 more plays than Tagovailoa, who has attempted just one fourth-quarter pass this season.
But against Top 25 opponents, Murray has been far more valuable. His 212.3 efficiency rating is the best in the country as he's thrown for 817 yards (51 of 70) for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in three games, while Tagovailoa has a 132.4 rating (33rd) in throwing for three TDs, two picks and 358 fewer yards on just seven attempts less than Murray.
Put it that way, and Murray doesn't just seem like a challenger, he feels like the leader. Tagovailoa, though, is the face of the best team in the land, an undefeated squad that's done so while navigating the toughest division in college football in the SEC West, home to four teams in the College Football Playoff Rankings.
Tagovailoa and Co. will be facing another CFP contender in SEC East champion Georgia in Atlanta, while Murray's Sooners face No. 13 West Virginia this week and likely No. 14 Texas -- which only needs beat lowly Kansas to stamp its ticket -- in the Big 12's title game.
The Mountaineers' loss to Oklahoma State last weekend derailed what would have been a top-10 clash for Murray, and now that game has lost serious buzz. Meanwhile, Tagovailoa is gifted the highest-ranked opponent of any player with a realistic shot at winning the Heisman in the form of the Bulldogs, and in the process he can earn his team a spot in the playoff.
If it's felt like the Big 12 has struggled to get out of its own way in the CFP era, they may see the exact same scenario play itself out in the Heisman race. Murray has superior stats and has been better in bigger games, but the gravity of what's to come weighs in Tagovailoa's favor, and that's due in no small part to his conference putting him in that position.
Here's a look at where thing stand in this race with two weeks before ballots are due.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama QB 2. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma QB 3. Gardner Minshew, Washington State QB
ON THE RISE: McKenzie Milton, UCF QB
It feels like Milton is marching toward a place in New York at the finalist table. He and the Golden Knights put on an absolute show in a primetime blowout of previously-ranked Cincinnati as he accounted for 274 yards and four TDs, helping UCF jump up two spots to No. 9 in the latest CFP Rankings. Now he'll get a crack at a USF defense that's allowing an average of 34.3 points per game amid a four-game losing streak.
Reinhold MatayReinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
ON THE RISE: Gardner Minshew, Washington State QB
The Apple Cup has the chance to be one of the best viewing experiences of the holiday weekend as Minshew matches up with with Pac-12's stingiest defense, with No. 16 Washington allowing 16.6 points per game. Minshew may not be able to replicate last week's seven-TD performance in the obliteration of Arizona, as the Huskies' gameplan will surely be to keep the Air Raid offense on the sideline as much as possible. With a rivalry game in primetime this week and rising Utah -- now ranked 17th -- in the conference title game, Minshew has a nice closing stretch as he makes his case to reach the ceremony.
James SnookJames Snook-USA TODAY Sports
FALL GUYS: Will Grier, West Virginia QB
The Mountaineers' latest loss wasn't a replay of their first, when Grier was held to a mere 100 yards passing against Iowa State. His defense did him no favors against Oklahoma State, as the senior passed for 364 yards and two scores and ran in another. There's the chance that the outshines Murray and gets West Virginia into the Big 12 title game, but given the previously stated brilliance of the Sooners QB vs. Top 25 opponents, here's thinking Grier has a good day, but not as strong as Murray.
Rob FergusonRob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
FALL GUYS: Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State QB
As everyone is very well aware -- especially in Ann Arbor -- Jim Harbaugh has never beaten Ohio State. With a spot in the playoff on the line in Columbus and bringing in the nation's No. 1 defense in yards allowed (234.8), passing yards allowed (123.2) and pass efficiency defense (88.74), this feels like a situation where the inconsistency of the Buckeyes offense takes Haskins out of the running for good.