We've waited more than three decades for a Heisman Trophy runner-up to win the following season -- so what's at least another year wait?
Stanford's Bryce Love, the nation's top returning rusher from a year ago -- and one of the favorite to hoist the award this year -- is now all but out of the race as he'll miss Saturday's game against UC Davis with an undisclosed injury.
Just five times in history has a player missed time and still went on to claim the trophy and it's happened just three times since 1957 (Charles White in 1979, Vinny Testaverde in '86 and Charlie Ward in '97). While Love could still produce a strong statistical season and keep the Cardinal in the College Football Playoff conversation, that missed time feels like the death knell coming after Love cashing in his mulligan after a paltry opener (29 yards vs. San Diego State) as he attempted to follow in the footsteps of Herschel Walker, the last player to go from second one season to a winner the next when he did it in 1982.
Things aren't looking good for two of the Pac-12's top preseason candidates in Love or Arizona's Khalil Tate (more on him later) as we enter the final weekend that's dominated by non-conference matchups.
Before we dive into this week's players who are rising and falling in the race, here's a real-time look at this voter's virtual ballot.
1. Will Grier, West Virginia QB 2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama QB 3. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin RB
Neville E. GuardNeville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sport
ON THE RISE: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma QB
Give Billy Beane this: the Oakland Athletics general manager is a fine judge of quarterback talent. Murray, who the A's took with the ninth overall pick in June's MLB draft -- and who the outfielder signed with for a $4 million-plus bonus -- has put up some insane numbers in taking over the Sooners offense for last year's Heisman winner, Baker Mayfield. No school has won back-to-back trophies with different players at the same position since Army's Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside with Don Blanchard and Glenn Davis in 1945 and '46, respectively. After torching UCLA for a combined 375 yards and five TDs, Murray should tee off on Iowa State, and his production becomes that much more critical with the season-ending injury to running back Rodney Anderson.
Mark D. SmithMark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
ON THE RISE: Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State QB
It's been 20 years since the Buckeyes had a passing attack that ranked higher than 36th, and so far Haskins is holding up his end of the bargain in changing that. Ohio State is producing 350 yards per game through the air -- good enough for 16th in FBS and first in the Big Ten -- behind Haskins' 546 yards and nine touchdowns through two weeks. But that was against Oregon State -- which was 83rd vs. the pass a year ago and doesn't look any better this season -- and Rutgers (55th in 2017 and currently 78th) and the degree of difficulty is about to pick up immensely vs. TCU, which is eighth in FBS (106.0 ypg). There's the added wrinkle of just how much the Buckeyes will use backup Tate Martell, but Haskins has an opportunity here to solidify his team's case in the early CFP pecking order and produce what would be the signature win of any contender in the season.
Aaron DosterAaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
ON THE RISE: Ed Oliver, Houston DT
In ending Arizona's Khalil Tate's chances (more on that later), Oliver upped his already considerable profile as the country's top defensive player with a manageable schedule to keep him in the mix and the Cougars in the running for a New Year's Six game. Is he going to win the award? Not likely, and the Forecaster has spent enough time explaining the reality -- unfair or not -- when it comes to strictly defensive players over the years to not waste everyone's time with another breakdown. Oliver also has the added stigma of playing in a non-Power 5 school, which hasn't produced a winner since 1990, and he has other challengers in that department with Boise State's Brett Rypien and UCF's McKenzie Milton. Nonetheless, if you're pinpointing a defensive player to make a case for a seat at the ceremony, Oliver is your man.
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FALL GUYS: Will Grier, West Virginia QB
This is no fault of his own, and currently, Grier is atop this voter's shortlist. Grier and the Mountaineers' matchup with NC State in Raleigh was canceled due to Hurricane Florence with no makeup date as of yet. It goes without saying that the safety of everyone involved is paramount, but this stood as a potential showcase game for Grier's candidacy, pitting him against another one of the country's more accomplished passers in the Wolfpack's Ryan Finley. The schedule still sets up nicely with a regular-season closing stretch of No. 15 TCU, No. 24 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Oklahoma, but there's a lull in between with just one of the Mountaineers' opponents currently unbeaten after two weeks (Baylor). Another impressive showing in a non-conference game vs. NC State on the road, where West Virginia opened as the underdog, would have been a needed boost that may not come at all now.
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FALL GUYS: Kelly Bryant/Trevor Lawrence, Clemson QBs
It's interesting that OddsShark shows both Bryant and Lawerence with equal odds (+4000), putting the Clemson QBs on the same level as Auburn's Jarrett Stidham, Notre Dame's Brandon Wimbush and Missouri's Drew Lock. Given the Tigers' clear standing as the ACC's best team, and their being on a perceived collision course with a return to the College Football Playoff, having a defined candidate would be ideal. While Alabama with Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts and Ohio State with Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell are similar situations, Clemson's position doesn't feel as solid as those other contenders, with one QB as the unquestioned lead. Thirty-five times teammates have finished in the top 10 in voting and 11 times that has included the winner. Obviously we've never seen a passer win with another QB from his own team in the top 10. We haven't seen a passer win with a teammate attempting at least half as many passes since Notre Dame's Johnny Lujack in 1943. Currently, Bryant has 34 attempts to Lawrence's 23.
Jerome MironJerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
FALL GUYS: Khalil Tate, Arizona QB
The biggest question coming out of Tucson is clear: what is the world, is going on with Khalil Tate? He's hitting on just 51.9 percent of his passes and is averaging a paltry 1.5 yards per carry in totaling 22 yards after rushing for 1,411 yards, including 327 in a single game. Tate did suffer an ankle injury in last Saturday's loss to Houston, but it's clear that we're missing the same kind of designed runs that Tate was so effective with under Rich Rodriguez. Whether new head man Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone can adjust to Tate's gifts instead of getting Tate to adjust to their scheme will still determine whether the Wildcats can still be a dark horse in the Pac-12 South. But as for the Heisman, that's out of the question.