Heading into the second half of the 2017 college football season, a trio of clear leaders are pacing the Heisman Trophy race. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley continues to lead based on the data compiled for The Open Man Heisman Top 10, but Stanford’s Bryce Love remains close.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is right there in the mix, as well. With the Sooners’ Bedlam rivals at Oklahoma State sporting a pair of contenders, next month’s showdown should be lit.
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES
- NC State DE Bradley Chubb
- West Virginia QB Will Grier
- Penn State QB Trace McSorley
- UCF QB McKenzie Milton
10. OKLAHOMA STATE WR JAMES WASHINGTON
The best wide receiver in college football leaps back into the Heisman Top 10 this week, appearing in various national rankings this week after he absolutely decimated Baylor on Oct. 14. Washington’s 235 yards against the Bears give him 882 on the season and a 147-per game average — tops in the nation.
Washington also has at least 100 yards in every game save one; he secured 98 yards his one contest shy of the century mark.
9. ALABAMA DB MINKAH FITZPATRICK
Another week, another Crimson Tide opponent held below 10 points. The victim this time was Arkansas, and while Minkah Fitzpatrick didn’t need to break a sweat like he did the week prior at Texas A&M, the star of Alabama’s stellar defense remains ranked.
Fitzpatrick’s inclusion the past two weeks is a fascinating to me as someone who loves and has studied Heisman history. Voters have a tendency to default to either the running back or quarterback — typically quarterback — of the best team in the nation. I wouldn’t chalk up Jalen Hurts’ forthcoming inclusion this week to that phenomenon, nor do I suggest Fitzpatrick is on voters’ radars isn’t deserved. He’s the best defensive back in the nation.
That said, with Jonathan Allen getting some modest Heisman hype a season ago, and Fitzpatrick now, Alabama’s defensive prowess have shifted paradigm away from Heisman norms of late.
8. ALABAMA QB JALEN HURTS
Jalen Hurts put together a typically efficient game both rushing and passing in Alabama’s rout of Arkansas. Hurts threw and ran for touchdowns to go with 196 total yards.
Though Hurts’ dual-threat production is something wholly new for a Nick Saban-coached team, his statistics have not routinely been eye-popping in the vein of other Heisman-contending two-way quarterbacks. Then again, they haven’t needed to be for Alabama to cruise. By staying in the mix, Hurts is setting himself up for a huge jump down the stretch — especially if he’s presented with a game-changing opportunity.
That might not come, given how much better than the rest of the SEC Alabama appears to be.
7. OKLAHOMA STATE QB MASON RUDOLPH
Mason Rudolph completed 19 passes against Baylor; three went for touchdowns. Yeah, pretty efficient performance out of the nation’s leading passer (394.7 yards per game).
Rudolph’s status in these Heisman calculations, commensurate with the rise of teammate James Washington, will be an interesting development to track over the coming weeks.
6. LOUISVILLE QB LAMAR JACKSON
I was happy to see outlets not dock Lamar Jackson this week, despite Louisville losing a confounding decision to Boston College. The Cardinals have myriad problems right now, which makes Jackson’s continued impressive play all the more impressive, to me.
I would be surprised if the reigning Heisman winner gets back to New York City, given the collective issues evident in Louisville’s play. It’s unfortunate that one of the greatest individual careers in college football history faces such an unceremonious future.
5. OHIO STATE QB J.T. BARRETT
Well, well, well; what do we have here? A Top 5 preseason Heisman candidate, J.T. Barrett stumbled out of the rankings of every source I use to compile this projection. His return to the top 5 was not a slow ascent, either. Barrett was unranked just a week ago.
After decimating Nebraska for the Cornhuskers’ worst home loss in more than six decades, Barrett proves that sometimes, preseason hype can benefit a candidate’s case. I don’t know that players without his buzz ahead of the season would make such a huge, one-week jump.
4. WISCONSIN RB JONATHAN TAYLOR
From off-the-radar two weeks ago to No. 4 now, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor stormed out of nowhere in this Heisman race. He has indeed been excellent, sitting just 14 yards shy of 1,000 yards. Based on his average yards per carry, Taylor will need less than two full rushes to hit that milestone in the Badgers’ next outing.
Taylor also has scored 11 rushing touchdowns, almost double that of front-running Saquon Barkley.
3. OKLAHOMA QB BAKER MAYFIELD
Baker Mayfield’s historic outing in the Red River Rivalry maintains his Top 3 status in the Heisman race. After putting up Heisman-caliber numbers in 2015 and reaching New York a season ago, Mayfield is even better this time around.
His 17 passing touchdowns against just one interception is tops in college football. Mayfield is also averaging a staggering 12 yards per attempt.
2. STANFORD RB BRYCE LOVE
Bryce Love has 1,387 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in six games. He’s averaging 10.3 yards per carry. He has more explosive touchdown runs than most of the rest of college football teams. And now, Bryce Love has an official Heisman campaign, #HeismanLove.
1. PENN STATE RB SAQUON BARKLEY
Only one source used to compile the Heisman Top 10 had a nominee other than Saquon Barkley at No. 1. That’s perhaps doubly impressive when considering Penn State had a bye this past week, and Barkley has not rushed for 100-plus yards since a staggering 211 on Sept. 23 at Iowa.
Barkley can all but engrave his name on the trophy if he excels over the Nittany Lions’ upcoming stretch against Michigan, followed with back-to-back road dates at Ohio State and Michigan State.