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LSU’s Burrow geauxing to New York as massive Heisman favorite

Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers looks to pass

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Sports Illustrated cover boy.

SEC champion. 

Headed to the College Football Playoff as the record-setting quarterback for No. 1 LSU.

Presumptive Heisman Trophy winner.

It’s been a charmed season so far for Joe Burrow, and it’s far from over.

Burrow topped the list of Heisman finalists announced Monday night. He’s the overwhelming favorite to hear his name called at the trophy presentation in New York on Saturday night.

It would be an absolute shock if Burrow isn’t striking that famous pose next to the cast bronze statue.

“In my opinion, he should win it,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron told the media after Burrow had another sensational game in leading the Tigers to a 37-10 victory against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday night. “In my opinion, he’s going to win it. The best thing about Joe is he’s a team player. All he wants to do is win this game. Individual awards are not high on his list. That’s what makes him such a great team player.”

The other finalists are Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and his Buckeyes teammate, defensive end Chase Young.

Those three will get a memorable trip to New York. 

But Burrow has done everything and more to deserve to lift the 25-pound trophy. 

Burrow set the SEC record with 48 touchdown passes, against just six interceptions. He’s thrown for 4,715 yards and is on pace to set the NCAA pass completion percentage, currently sitting at 77.9%. 

He shined on Saturday night, throwing for 349 yards and four touchdowns in the blowing win against Georgia, prompting Tigers fans to chant, “Heisman! Heisman! Heisman!”

The play of the game came when he connected with Justin Jefferson on a 71-yard catch-and-run that set up Burrow’s third TD throw of the night. 

Burrow’s teammates echoed their coach in pushing their QB for the Heisman. 

“He won it weeks ago,” Jefferson said.

Added running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire: “Joe is the heartbeat of this team.”

In weekly surveys of 21 Heisman voters by USA TODAY, Burrow has been projected as the winner in every one since he led LSU to a season-shaping, 46-41 victory against Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9. Burrow had 457 total yards — including 393 yards passing — and three touchdowns. 

In the most recent USA TODAY poll, Burrow got all 21 first-place votes.

In a slightly broader straw poll by The Athletic that could portend a runaway victory, Burrow got 50 of 51 first-place votes.

So Orgeron and Burrow’s teammates are right. Their 6-foot-4, fresh-faced quarterback from The Plains, Ohio, should be hoisting the Heisman on Saturday night, with a chance to hoist yet another trophy in a month.

Speaking of that victory at Alabama, one of the sports images of the year is that of Burrow being carried across the field on the shoulders of two teammates. Burrow’s arms are upraised and he’s sticking out his tongue.

No wonder he’s become so beloved in such a short time down on the bayou.

Burrow would join running back Billy Cannon as LSU’s only Heisman Trophy winners. Cannon won his 60 years ago.

Jalen Hurts #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks to pass the ball

(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

After the Heisman ceremony, the Tigers’ full focus will be on trying to win their first national title since 2007. They are top-seeded in the College Football Playoff and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 28 in Atlanta, in the same stadium where the Tigers won the SEC championship. In the other semifinal, No. 2 Ohio State will play No. 3 Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, also on Dec. 28.

The winners will meet for the national title on Jan. 13 at the Superdome in New Orleans. If LSU advances to the title tilt, it’ll be as close as possible to a home-field advantage, since campus is just 80 miles from the Big Easy. 

Two interesting notes about the Heisman finalists: All four will be in the College Football Playoff, and the three quarterbacks are all transfers. 

After the announcement of the finalists, LSU wasted little time in pumping up its “Broadway Joe.” The school tweeted a video of a Times Square video board showing footage of its star quarterback.

Burrow left Ohio State after the 2018 season as a graduate transfer after warming the bench for two seasons. He threw only 39 passes total in his two seasons with the Buckeyes before heading south and thriving in the Tigers’ new spread offense. He threw for 2,894 yards and 16 touchdowns last season before his remarkable performance this fall.

Although he’s from Iowa, Burrow has embraced the bayou. During the Senior Day ceremony before his final home regular-season game, he wore a jersey that read “Burreaux,” a Cajun inflection of his surname. The crowd roared when he turned around and pointed at the name with both thumbs.

Tigers fans will love him even more if he does indeed win the Heisman on Saturday night. He’ll go down in school lore even more if he leads LSU to the national championship.

Burrow should become the third-straight transfer quarterback to win college football’s top award. Overall, QBs have won 16 of the last 19 trophies dating back to 2000. 

Hurts has had a remarkable career, which he’ll try to cap with another appearance in the national championship game. 

Hurts, of course, transferred to Oklahoma after guiding Alabama into the playoffs for three straight seasons. He graduated last December with one year of eligibility remaining.

Hurts left Alabama less than two weeks after it lost to Clemson in the national championship game. He had been 26-2 as a starter and led the Crimson Tide to the national championship game in his first two seasons. But he was replaced by Tua Tagovailoa at halftime of the national title game against Georgia in January 2018, and then was beaten out by Tagovailoa the following fall.

Hurts passed for 3,634 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 1,255 yards and 18 touchdowns.

The Sooners’ run of consecutive Heisman winners — Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield — is about to end, but it’s been an impressive few years for the Sooners. They have had a finalist for four straight years, and Hurts is the third Sooners quarterback to be a Heisman finalist in the last four seasons.  

Fields and Young are the first teammates to be finalists since Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and receiver Dede Westbrook in 2016. 

Chase Young #2 and Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate a win over the Michigan

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Keeping the transfer theme going is Fields. He played sparingly as a freshman at Georgia in 2018, appearing in 12 games and throwing just 39 passes, before transferring to Ohio State. Fields was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA. He has thrown for 2,953 yards and 40 touchdowns, with just one interception, in leading the Buckeyes (13-0) to the Big Ten championships. He’s also rushed for 123 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Fields had a big second half Saturday night to rally the Buckeyes to a 34-21 victory against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. He threw three touchdown passes as Ohio State won an unprecedented third-straight Big Ten championship.

Young is the first strictly defensive player to be named a Heisman finalist since Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. He finished second behind Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in 2012. Young leads the nation with 16.5 sacks, despite missing two games for an NCAA violation. He was suspended after admitting he took out a loan from a family friend. Young used the loan to fly his girlfriend to attend Ohio State’s Rose Bowl appearance against Washington last season. He missed games against Maryland and Rutgers before returning for the final two regular-season games against Penn State and Michigan.

Great accomplishments, all. But all indications are that this is Burrow’s year to hoist the Heisman.