In my opinion, Lamar Jackson of Louisville remains the Heisman Trophy front-runner. But how tight is his grip on the award at this point?
His numbers are among the best in the nation. Only Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes has more total offense than Jackson. Jackson compiled nearly 5,000 total yards and 51 total touchdowns this season. But his last opportunity to make a case on the field was Saturday against Kentucky, and the Cardinals lost. So that means Jackson limps into the postseason with two straight losses and three losses overall. I’ve always felt that voters take a team’s record into account. How much of a difference does this make?
It may not make much difference. But it’s noteworthy to look at the last 20 Heisman winners and find that none of them lost their final two regular-season games. It’s also of note that only three of them won the award with three total losses — Baylor’s Robert Griffin III in 2011 (4,293 yards passing, 37 TDs, 6 INTs, plus 699 yards rushing and 10 TDs), Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2007 (3,286 yards passing, 32 TDs and 6 INTs, along with 895 rushing yards and 23 scores) and Texas’ Ricky Williams in 1998, a season (2,124 yards rushing with 27 touchdowns).
I don’t have a Heisman ballot, but if I did and it were due today I would still have Jackson first. But what happens this week may impact his front-runner status.
We lost one more legitimate candidate this week. Washington State quarterback Luke Falk has been impressive this year, and should he choose to come back for his senior year he’ll be a front-line candidate for this award in 2017. But his sub-par performance against Washington on national TV — 269 yards passing, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions — takes him out of legitimate status. By legitimate, I mean players that have a better than 50 percent chance to win the award or earn an invitation to New York City.
Below is our Top 25 for this week. Along with the five 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 players on the list have delivered some Heisman-worthy moments but are no longer legitimate candidates.
College Football America’s Heisman Top 25
- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Jackson’s final numbers? 3,390 yards passing, 30 TDs, 9 INTs, along with 1,538 yards rushing and 21 TDs. He can’t do any more damage to his case this weekend. He can’t help his case anymore this weekend, either.
- Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
He’s had two straight games of 100 or fewer rushing yards, but still has the Mountain West title game to bolster his case for what would, in my mind, be a “career achievement” invitation to New York City. Wyoming held him to 76 yards rushing in their meeting two weeks ago, though. He’s a tenuous No. 2 right now and if he posts another sub-par game in the MWC title game I could see him dropping out of legitimate status. He is still in line to move into No. 1 all-time in NCAA rushing and I think that’s something that could sway his case. Of the top six rushers of all-time, only DeAngelo Williams failed to receive Heisman consideration his final season. He went to Memphis and is No. 5 all-time. He had as big a year that year (1,964 yards rushing, 19 TDs) as Pumphrey is now (1,908 yards, 15 TDs). It should be interesting to see what voters decide.
- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
It’s interesting that I have him slotted third and he finished third in voting last year. His huge game vs. South Carolina (347 yards passing, 6 TDs) keeps him in the running. He has cleared 4,000 yards in total offense and has the ACC title game vs. Virginia Tech to bolster his case for an invite to New York City.
- Jake Browning, QB, Washington
Browning had a fantastic game against Washington State (292 yards and 3 TDs) and for the season he’s thrown for 3,162 yards and 40 touchdowns. More importantly he and the Huskies play for the Pac-12 title this weekend and still have a legitimate shot at the College Football Playoff, factors that keep him in the running.
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield dips behind Browning this week, but not because he didn’t play last week. The Sooners are less legitimate contenders for the CFP, and voters could take that into account. He gets one more shot to impress the nation vs. Oklahoma State in a de facto Big 12 title game. It’s neck and neck between him and Browning for the No. 4 spot, in my opinion.
In the Top 25 but no longer serious contenders
Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
D’Onta Foreman, QB, Texas
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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