College football had waited three long years for the moment when Kyler Murray would get a full season of unabated action at quarterback. Man, was it worth the wait. The Oklahoma Sooners' star had one of the best seasons ever produced by a quarterback at the FBS level which earned him college football’s top honor as he was announced the recipient of this year's Heisman Trophy on Saturday night.
The 2018 season was the stage for Murray and the spotlight was all his as the dual-threat dazzled every time he touched the ball. Murray guided the Sooners (12-1, 8-1 Big 12) to a 39-27 Big 12 Championship Game victory over rival Texas, which also secured Oklahoma's spot in the College Football Playoff. The Sooners have the nation's top-ranked offense with Murray responsible for a good chunk of that. He has 4,053 passing yards and 40 touchdowns, numbers that rank him third and second in the nation, respectively. He also has 892 yards and 11 more scores on the ground, as his overall body of work was enough to top fellow finalists Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama and Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins for the stiff-armed trophy.
Murray also gives Oklahoma back-to-back Heisman winners following Baker Mayfield last year. Oklahoma is now tied with Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most Heisman Trophy winners with seven each.
Here is a look back at some of Murray's top moments on his way to earning the Heisman.
5. Game-winning TD pass in OT to beat Army
With Army controlling the game via their ground attack, the Oklahoma offense had very few opportunities to put points on the board, as it ran a total of 40 plays. After playing to a 21-21 tie in regulation, the Sooners got the ball first in overtime. Murray wasted little time, connecting with CeeDee Lamb for a 10-yard touchdown that proved to be the game-winner. Oklahoma's defense intercepted Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. on 4th-and-7 from the 22-yard line to end the game. Murray finished with a modest 165 passing yards but he added 71 on the ground and totaled four touchdowns. Not bad work considering the Sooners only had the ball for a little more than 15 minutes of the entire game.
4. Record-setting efficiency vs. Baylor
No Heisman Trophy season is complete without one game full of ridiculous highlights and gaudy stats. In Murray's case, his game came against Baylor. The Bears provided little resistance to Murray or the Sooners, as he completed 17 of 21 pass attempts for 432 yards and six touchdowns. That's 20.6 yards per pass attempt and 25.4 per completion. He also added a rushing score for good measure. His passer rating for that game was 348.3, smashing the previous school record set by Jason White (303.3) in 2003. It also set a new Big 12 mark.
3. Putting up big numbers in Bedlam win
With a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game still uncertain because of a logjam of teams near the top, Oklahoma was in the driver's seat but knew that Oklahoma State would pull out all the stops in hope of knocking off the Sooners. On Nov. 10 in primetime in Norman, the two in-state rivals engaged in a thrilling, back-and-forth slugfest that featured six lead changes and came down to a failed two-point conversion attempt by the Cowboys. Murray had just one touchdown as he deferred to the running game, but that came on a 51-yard strike to Marquise Brown and was part of a 349-yard effort that had him complete a pass to eight different receivers. He also added 66 rushing yards and didn't commit a single turnover.
2. Taking down No. 12 West Virginia in Morgantown
Winning on the road in the Big 12 is never easy, but that's what Oklahoma needed to do in its regular-season finale against West Virginia to secure a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. Will Grier and the Mountaineers threw everything they had against the Sooners, but Murray and OU had more than enough answers. Besides throwing for 364 yards and three touchdowns (along with an interception), Murray piled up a season-high 114 rushing yards in the thrilling, 59-56 win. The big highlight for Murray was a 55-yard TD run for the Sooners' first score.
1. Redemption vs. Texas
The lone loss for Oklahoma came in Week 6 in the Cotton Bowl against then-No. 19 Texas. The 48-45 defeat could have derailed the Sooners' season and Murray’s Heisman chances, but an opportunity for redemption came. In the Big 12 Championship Game, Murray upped his game, throwing for 379 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions as Oklahoma beat the 14th-ranked Longhorns. Two of Murray's touchdown passes went to tight end Grant Calcaterra and both were at critical junctures. The first, a six-yard TD, gave the Sooners their first lead of the game (20-14) with 18 seconds remaining in the first half. The second was farther out and just a little more difficult (see video below), as Murray connected with his tight end again from 18 yards to make the score 39-27 with two minutes to play. A fitting end to a fantastic game for the OU quarterback.
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience and is a member of the FWAA. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and has his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWrightRNG.