Back to our College Football America Heisman Top 25 and we have clear separation as we enter November. I believe we have a dozen legitimate candidates for the award with a half-dozen weeks remaining. But let’s talk about the Top 2 for a bit.
I still have Louisville’s Lamar Jackson as my No. 1 candidate, and statistically speaking he’s done nothing to really dissuade me from voting his way — if I had an actual vote. He has 38 total touchdowns this season, plus 2,522 yards passing and 996 yards rushing. He’s already left his 2015 totals in the dust. It’s not inconceivable for him to have 3,500 yards passing and 1,250 yards rushing by the end of this season. That would be awfully rare company in college football. Thanks to his dual-threat ability, he really hasn’t laid a statistical egg to this point.
But the Cardinals are not undefeated, and that one loss is why I’m not totally committed to Jackson just yet. That loss was to Clemson and their quarterback, Deshaun Jackson, could be a legit No. 1 by season’s end. This has not been an easy season for Watson or the Tigers. In fact, this season feels quite a bit like Florida State’s 2013 season in which the Seminoles came back after winning the national title, went undefeated in the regular season and won the ACC before losing in the College Football Playoff semifinals. Every week seemed to be a struggle for the Seminoles, but they got through it.
Watson is Clemson’s leader and a big reason why the Tigers remain undefeated. His passing numbers thus far are nearly identical to Jackson’s — 2,328 yards and 22 touchdowns — but his rushing numbers are way behind Jackson — Watson has just 200 yards. Keep in mind that Watson was last year what Jackson has been this year. Watson rushed for 1,000 yards and 12 scores while throwing for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns.
The Heisman isn’t an MVP award, although some treat it as such. It’s an award given to the most outstanding player in college football that season. And if that’s your criteria, then I think you have to give Jackson the nod at this point. That’s why he’s No. 1 here.
Could that change? Sure. But Jackson’s hardest game in the Cardinals’ final four is probably at Houston on Nov. 17, so there is potential for Jackson to put up some huge numbers down the stretch. But Clemson must lose twice for Louisville to have a chance to take the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Meanwhile Clemson has Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest and South Carolina left. Not a cupcake schedule, but Clemson is capable of winning all four games.
Would that make a difference to voters? We’ll see in a month.
Below is our Top 25. As mentioned I consider just 12 players to be legitimate candidates at this point. When I say legitimate candidates, it means that I think it’s still possible for them to get an invitation to New York City. I’ve provided a note for each. The remaining 13 players on the list have delivered some Heisman-worthy moments but, at this point, don’t appear to be legitimate candidates. Part of the reason for maintaining the rest of this list is it helps to compile a list for next year. Plus, there’s no telling who might make a late surge in November. It has been known to happen.
College Football America’s Heisman Top 25
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
If he keeps having moments like last Saturday’s game against Virginia — in which he led the Cards to a last-second victory — he’s going to be hard to top.
- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Watson’s best case at this point is to keep winning, win the ACC and hope the majority of voters value that and the Tigers’ win over Louisville.
- Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
He leads the nation with 202.5 all-purpose yards per game and the Aztecs are still in Group of 5 Bowl contention. I’m looking forward to seeing him on Saturday.
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
His numbers are just plain dizzying (an FBS-leading 471.3 yards of total offense per game) but his team is .500 and I can’t rectify that with a Heisman vote.
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Sooners are coming and Mayfield is the reason. He’s eighth in FBS with 323 yards passing per game and the Sooners are on track to win the Big 12.
- Jake Browning, QB, Washington
His numbers don’t knock you out (just 236.9 passing yards per game). But as long as the Huskies keep winning he might just sneak into the Top 3.
- Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
Falk’s numbers do knock you out (364.8 yards passing per game, which is second in FBS) and the Cougars are undefeated in the Pac-12. Imagine if they’re still undefeated when they tussle with Washington in the Apple Bowl?
- Davis Webb, QB, California
He’s fourth in the nation in passing yards per game (364.3) but he needs a lot of help to crack the Top 3.
- D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
He’s sneaking up on the nation with 157.9 yards rushing per game, second only to Pumphrey.
Dalvin Cook, Florida State
Sixth in the nation with 133 rushing yards per game, but his ability to threaten the Top 3 has waned.
- J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
As long as the Buckeyes have a chance to win the Big Ten, he has a chance. But his total numbers lag behind everyone except Browning.
- Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan
I really don’t know what to do with this guy. But he played 10 different positions against Michigan State, he scored a touchdown on offense, he had a two-point conversion return on defense and had several key defensive stops. As long as Michigan is undefeated, he remains a viable candidate.
In the Top 25 but no longer serious contenders
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Greg Ward Jr., QB, Houston
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss
Skyler Howard, QB, West Virginia
Seth Russell, QB, Baylor
Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State
Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse
Tommy Armstrong Jr., QB, Nebraska
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama
Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
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