I was at the Colorado-Arizona game last weekend when I saw the flash that Louisville was down two points going into the fourth quarter. I thought, perhaps, the door to usurping Lamar Jackson’s front-runner status for the Heisman might come ajar. Turns out not so much.
Louisville won the game, 44-12, with an enormous fourth quarter. When I caught up with Jackson’s stat line after the game, it was clear that his performance was solid — 145 yards passing, one passing touchdown and 153 yards rushing. Could it have been better? Sure. Did I expect it to be better? Yes. But he still gained nearly 300 total yards. We’re kind of splitting hairs at this point. He did nothing to lose his front-runner status, no matter how much he might have struggled against Wake Forest.
With two games remaining, Jackson may be almost unbeatable.
After paring our list of legitimate contenders down to 10 last week, I felt the need to cut it by two more this week. The Michigan loss means that Jabrill Peppers’ candidacy is likely over. The Iowa game, given how close it was, was the perfect chance for Peppers to make a game-changing play and impact his candidacy. But Iowa kept him under wraps the entire game when Peppers had the football on offense and special teams, limiting his impact. He’ll get consideration from voters with Big Ten ties, but his larger candidacy isn’t going to take off. Same goes for Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett. I wrote last week his numbers were well behind the rest of the remaining QBs, and they remain so. He’ll get some love from Big Ten-based voters, but a national push to get him to New York City is done.
Below is our Top 25 for this week. Along with the 8 players I still consider to be legitimate candidates at this point, I’ve provided a note for each. They’re also in order of how I would vote, if I had a vote. The remaining 15 players on the list have delivered some Heisman-worthy moments but, at this point, don’t appear to be legitimate candidates.
College Football America’s Heisman Top 25
- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
No one mixes the run and pass better than Jackson does right now. He would need 768 yards rushing and passing to get to 5,000 yards of total offense. The only other player that can accomplish that this season is Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes.
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
Pumphrey is now No. 4 on the all-time NCAA career rushing list. With 347 more rushing yards he can pass Ron Dayne for No. 1. This feels more and more like a Jordan Lynch kind of situation, where voters reward a Group of 5 stud for a long, successful career.
- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Don’t forget the game he had against Pitt — 580 yards passing and three touchdowns (three interceptions, too). Yes, the loss hurts his candidacy, but not as much as, say, Washington’s loss will hurt Jake Browning, because Watson has a body of work behind him. That shouldn’t matter year to year, but sometimes it does when casting that ballot.
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield slides up this list because he’s having a great season and voters are going to appreciate his consistency (he also benefited from the upheaval of last Saturday). He should approach or even pass last year’s numbers by season’s end. If OU keeps winning and wins the Big 12, that enhances his chances of reaching New York City.
- Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
Did you know that if Washington State just beats Washington in the regular season finale, they’ll win the Pac-12 North? If it happens voters will give Falk a second look, especially with a showcase Pac-12 title game the first week of December. Falk is second in the nation in passing yards behind Patrick Mahomes. But critical games against Colorado and Washington remain.
- D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
Foreman moves up a couple of spots this week and is second in the nation in rushing yards. Remember two things. First, he’s a game short of Pumphrey due to injury. Second, he has rushed for at least 124 yards in every game this season. He should destroy Kansas single-handedly on Saturday.
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Mahomes continues to leads the nation in total offense and continues to be dragged down by the Red Raiders’ .500 record. Tech can win, at most, seven games. This is why Mahomes will get votes, but likely no flight to New York City. He’s a good candidate to drop off the legit list next week.
- Jake Browning, QB, Washington
His candidacy was really enhanced by his team’s undefeated record, so the loss to USC really hurts. Plus he took a step back numbers-wise. He could drop off the legit list next week.
In the Top 25 but no longer serious contenders
Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
Davis Webb, QB, Cal
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
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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