The 2022 college football season is coming down to the wire. The College Football Playoff is set and so are the bowls in December. However, there is still something very big up in the air.
This is perhaps one of the most competitive Heisman Trophy races in recent memory. After the conference championship games this past weekend, it is very difficult to predict who will take home the trophy.
On Monday night, the committee announced the four Heisman finalists: Stetson Bennett (Georgia), C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Caleb Williams (USC) and Max Duggan (TCU). The winner will be announced on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
While three of them are part of teams that were projected to be at the top of the rankings, Duggan is leading a surprising TCU team that finished 12-1. The Horned Frogs entered the season unranked, but they slowly climbed to the CFP top-four.
And a lot of TCU’s success is thanks to Duggan. Without him, it is difficult to imagine the Horned Frogs making it into the CFP. Because of that, he gave many reasons to earn the highest individual honor in college football.
Here are some reasons why Max Duggan must win the Heisman Trophy in 2022.
3. Duggan spearheaded TCU’s elite offense
While TCU had a fantastic season overall, the same can be said about Duggan. The quarterback completed 64.9% of his pass attempts for 3,321 yards and 30 touchdowns against four interceptions. He also added 404 yards on the ground for six scores.
With his help, the Horned Frogs had one of the best offenses in the country. TCU averages 473 yards of offense per game, currently No. 16 in college football. This is better than teams such as the Michigan Wolverines with Blake Corum and LSU Tigers with Jayden Daniels.
The senior led the Big 12 in passing efficiency (165.5), touchdown passes, passing yards, yards per attempt (9.0) and yards per completion (13.9).
Duggan also showed he can play in clutch moments. Against Kansas and Oklahoma State, he maintained his composure to win in double-overtime in both instances. Even in the loss against Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game, Duggan led an epic 80-yard game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter.
2. The Horned Frogs had one of the toughest schedules in FBS
One major thing that most people take into consideration when voting for awards or the CFP is strength of the schedule. If there is one thing that can help Duggan’s case for the Heisman, it is TCU’s quality of opponents.
The Horned Frogs had five wins versus ranked teams in 2022. At that time unranked, TCU’s first victory came in a 55–24 blowout versus the then-No. 18 Oklahoma Sooners. The Horned Frogs followed that major result with three straight ranked wins against then-No. 19 Kansas Jayhawks, then-No. 8 Oklahoma State Cowboys and then-No. 17 Kansas State Wildcats.
In a College GameDay matchup, TCU ended up defeating rivals then-No. 18 Texas Longhorns on the road, which officially cemented the team as a contender for a CFP spot.
With those victories, Duggan proved he is a dynamic quarterback against some of the Big 12’s best teams. He showed that he is not afraid of tough competition, which could come in handy as voters cast their final ballots.
For comparison, USC’s Caleb Williams had two wins against ranked schools but two losses as well. Georgia’s Stetson Bennett had three ranked victories and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud had just two, plus a key loss against Michigan.
Looking solely at the schedules, Duggan should have a significant advantage against some or maybe all of the other finalists.
1. Duggan overcame more than just football challenges
Since he had such a fantastic season for the Horned Frogs, few people remember Duggan’s journey before 2022.
He was the starter for his first three seasons in college. However, he lost the job with head coach Sonny Dykes. Duggan had to earn his starting role back, and he did it after just one game off the bench. But his challenges went beyond football.
In 2020, due to extensive tests as a result of COVID-19 procedures, it was revealed that Duggan had a rare heart abnormality in his heart since birth called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. It required a nine-hour surgery to repair his heart, according to the Texas Monthly. Even though there were many questions about his health, and even if he would ever play again, Duggan showed his condition would not stop him.
He ended up playing 10 games that season, showing he was not done yet. He returned for two more seasons at TCU, leading the team to the CFP.
At the end of the day, it is difficult to ignore everything Duggan went through these past few years. Everything he had to overcome, from heart conditions to getting benched, only highlights how special he is. If there is one way to represent his long journey, it is with the Heisman Trophy in his hands.