The 2018 Heisman Trophy rankings take shape with Oklahoma losing despite Kyler Murray’s efforts and with Tua Tagovailoa dominating on cruise control.
As much as the Heisman Trophy is an individual award, there is no question that team success factors into who ultimately wins it. This isn’t to say that the winner has to come from an unbeaten team every year, or even a team that’s in the College Football Playoff. However, it is to say that, if a player’s team does suffer a loss (or more than one) on the year, that player needs to still have performed at a high level.
We saw that type of performance in Week 6 of the 2018 college football season from Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray, who came in at No. 1 in our Heisman ranking last week, saw his team trailing by multiple scores in the second half of a rivalry game against the Texas Longhorns thanks to horrendous defensive play from his teammates. The quarterback, however, did the opposite of crumble.
Instead, Murray put on his big-boy pants and went to work. Using his playmaking and athletic gifts, the Oklahoma quarterback put on a show late in the second half to bring the Sooners all the way back to a tie with their rivals. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to give OU the win as Texas hit a field goal at the end of the fourth quarter to pick up the big win.
That loss will undoubtedly matter when looking at Murray’s candidacy for the Heisman Trophy, but it is worth noting that it wouldn’t have even been close at the end of the game if not for the efforts of the quarterback. However, with the performance of the likes of Tua Tagovailoa and others in the college football landscape, the loss is enough to knock him from his perch at No. 1.
And with that, let’s get into our Heisman rankings after Week 6 of the 2018 college football season.
10. Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
Anyone that has ever played Madden or NCAA Football in their lives has had that one team with a wide receiver that can’t be covered in the game. Subsequently, you feed that receiver relentlessly, throwing his way every time and making the opposing defense pay for not having a player as good as that guy. That wide receiver is basically what Laviska Shenault Jr. has been for Steven Montez and the Colorado Buffaloes offense this season.
In a big game where Colorado had their first real test of the season, Shenault proved that he wasn’t about to stop putting up insane numbers. The 6-foot-2 sophomore finished the night with 13 catches for 127 yards and two scores. In five games, that now gives him an absurd 51 catches for 708 yards and six touchdowns. If those aren’t Heisman Trophy caliber numbers for a wide receiver, I don’t know what that would look like.
9. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Coming off a proverbial bye week for the Wisconsin Badgers and two lackluster weeks by Jonathan Taylor’s standards, the sophomore running back really needed to prove himself in Week 6 as the Badgers took on a subpar and mightily struggling Nebraska Cornhuskers team. As a whole, Wisconsin left a lot to be desired in that matchup, allowing Scott Frost’s team to hang around far closer than they probably ever should have. Taylor, however, was the biggest reason the Badgers got the result they wanted.
The star running back looked lights out on Saturday in the win. Taylor finished the game with 24 carries for 221 yards and three touchdowns. The performance snapped a two-game streak where he’d both failed to score and failed to top 120 rushing yards. He may not be able to climb much higher, but Taylor can stay firmly in the ranks if this gets his momentum going again.