With a late push of his own and a late pratfall by his prime competitor, quarterback Kyler Murray gave Oklahoma back-to-back Heisman trophies on Saturday night.
Throughout the season, the most prestigious individual award in college football appeared destined to belong to Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. But his poor performance and ankle injury in the Southeastern Conference championship game Dec. 1 opened the door for Murray, who had strafed Texas earlier in the day to further establish his glowing credentials. While Tagovailoa was watching backup Jalen Hurts rescue Alabama, Murray was reaping the benefits with voters.
Those two factors created a close Heisman voting, but Murray prevailed. The Oklahoma quarterback received 517 first-place votes and 2,167 points. Tagovailoa finished with 299 first-place votes and 1,871 total points. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins finished third with 46 first-place votes and 783 total points.
— Carson Cunningham (@KOCOCarson) December 9, 2018
The award voting is final, but the two will have a rare chance to settle it on the field Dec. 29 in the College Football Playoff. Murray’s fourth-seeded Sooners (12-1) face Tagovailoa’s top-seeded and undefeated Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl. It’s the first bowl showdown of 1-2 Heisman finishers since winner Reggie Bush of USC and runner-up Vince Young of Texas met in an epic Rose Bowl to finish the 2005 season. (Bush subsequently was stripped of the award for NCAA rules violations.)
Murray follows fellow Sooner quarterback — and fellow transfer — Baker Mayfield in winning the Heisman. It marked just the fourth time that a school had back-to-back winners: Yale had Larry Kelley and Clinton Frank in 1936 and ’37; Army had Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis in 1945 and ’46; and Ohio State had Archie Griffin in both 1974 and ’75.
Murray is the seventh Oklahoma player in history to win the award, tying the Sooners with Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most in college football history. He’s the fourth Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman.
Murray transferred to Oklahoma after spending his freshman season at Texas A&M, much as Mayfield moved to Norman after starting his career at Texas Tech. After sitting out the 2016 season, Murray backed up Mayfield last year and then took over the starting job this season — and is on pace to outperform his record-breaking predecessor.
Murray has a 205.72 pass efficiency rating, ahead of Mayfield’s single-season NCAA record of 198.92 last year; and his 10.68 yards per play of total offense is ahead of Mayfield’s NCAA record of 9.86.
He’s already surpassed Mayfield’s Oklahoma single-season mark for total offense, with 4,945 yards. Murray also is on pace to set a new NCAA standard for yards per pass attempt (11.9, compared to the current record of 11.1 by BYU’s Ty Detmer).
The Murray-Mayfield double also gives Sooners coach Lincoln Riley Heisman winners in his first two seasons as a head coach.
Murray’s historic season wouldn’t have happened if he had opted to play professional baseball this year after receiving a $4.6 million signing bonus from the Oakland A’s as a first-round draft pick. But Murray stuck to his plan to play football this year, while maintaining that he will report to spring training with the A’s. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound product of Allen, Texas, is projected as a center fielder.
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