We are two weeks away from knowing who the Heisman Trophy finalists are. We have one more week of regular season games (for most conferences) and a final week of conference championship games. So here are my Top 5 Heisman hopefuls as we enter Week 13 of the season.
My Top 5 last week (in case you need a review): 1. QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; 2. RB Bryce Love, Stanford; 3. RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin; 4. RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State; 5. QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State.
Let’s dive in.
1. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. I can’t give Mayfield a pass on the lewd gesture, but the fact is that Mayfield has always played with an edge, and that’s actually part of what I like about him. He will not start against West Virginia on Saturday, but I don’t believe that will have an appreciable impact on his Heisman candidacy. He had a fine day against Kansas — 20-of-30 for 257 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t play much of the fourth quarter of a 41-3 win. He did nothing to change my mind that he’s the front-runner. The path ahead is pretty clear. West Virginia may have lost QB Will Grier for next Saturday’s game with OU due to a broken finger, which will make the Sooners’ last regular-season game infinitely easier. Then it’s a likely rematch with TCU (assuming the Horned Frogs beat Baylor next week) in the Big 12 title game. If Mayfield plays like Mayfield and the Sooners win those two games I don’t see anyone overtaking him.
2. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford. It was a close game with Cal, but the Cardinal won, 17-14, and Love had 104 yards on 14 carries in the contest. He also scored once. But Love suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter against Cal and his status for next weekend’s game with Notre Dame is in question. Love has already missed one game this season. A second would probably end any chance of winning the Heisman. It’s worth monitoring. If Washington beats Washington State in the Apple Cup next weekend then Stanford will go to the Pac-12 title game and Love would get another opportunity to make his case, if he’s healthy. But in addition to great play he needs Mayfield’s play to fall off considerably.
3. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: Taylor pounded out 132 yards on 19 carries in a hard-fought 24-10 win over Michigan. What Taylor has going for him is the fact that the Badgers are within the College Football Playoff conversation and that he’s right behind Love in terms of total rushing yards. Working against him are factors he can’t control — he’s a freshman and he’s playing for a team where its schedule is still a question. If Love isn’t able to play for the Cardinal the rest of the way, I could see Taylor overtaking him in voters’ minds.
4. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Barkley finally looked like himself again, dumping 158 rushing yards and three touchdowns on a four-win Nebraska team. The numbers were impressive. The opponent was not. I think this moves him closer to the Top 3 again, but he’ll only get one more chance to impress voters as Ohio State has clinched the Big Ten East. I don’t want to minimize the season he’s had. It’s impressive when you take it all into account. And voters may look at him higher than I do at the moment.
5. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: The truth is any number of people could be in this No. 5 spot, but I’ll keep Rudolph in there after throwing for 425 yards and three touchdowns (with two interceptions) in a loss to Kansas State.
These players are out of contention
Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame. He had 106 yards against Navy, but he’s out of the conversation now.
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State. Out of the conversation. He may slip into the Top 5 on ballots, but it would be a nod to his career, not a nod to his season.
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia. Grier now has a broken finger and is now a part of the 2018 conversation. He’s a legitimate candidate for next year’s award, assuming he chooses to return for his senior year.
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