Saturday was another chaotic day in college football, one where the No. 1 and No. 3 team lost, and – if we’re being perfectly honest – the No. 2 team probably should have lost as well. It left us with a muddled playoff picture as we head down the homestretch.
But while the playoff chase is a wild sprint to the finish, the Heisman race is the exact opposite: It’s one guy pulling away from the pack.
Here’s how things look after Week 11:
The favorite (Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma)
Oklahoma is sitting at 9-1 on the season and in prime position to make the playoff. And it’s for one simple reason: They have Baker Mayfield and nobody else does.
The fifth-year senior was once again mesmerizing on Saturday, passing for 333 yards and three touchdowns. The more incredible thing is that he did it against the top defense in the Big 12, and one of the top defenses in all of college football in TCU. The Horned Frogs entered the day allowing an average of just 13 points per game, yet incredibly, Oklahoma had 17 after the first quarter on its way to a 38-20 win.
There’s still a lot of football to be played. But this award is Mayfield’s to lose right now.
The second-tier (Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin; Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville)
If Mayfield somehow slipped up, there are two names that immediately come to mind behind him. The cool part is they are about as opposite of candidates as you can imagine.
On the one end, you have Taylor, a do-it-all freshman who has burst on the scene this year for Wisconsin. If anything, Taylor is probably the biggest reason the Badgers are still in the playoff mix, as he’s tallied at least 80 yards rushing in every game and topped the 100-yard mark seven times this season, including 157 on Saturday. That is no small feat, especially with Wisconsin’s woeful passing attack (Alex Hornibrook threw three interceptions on Saturday).
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have the name everyone knows, the reigning winner, Lamar Jackson. Because Louisville has struggled this season, Jackson’s name has flown under the radar, yet he continues to put up incredible numbers. Saturday was no different, as he threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another while becoming the first player in FBS history with back-to-back 3,000-yard passing, 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Again, Jackson isn’t getting the credit he deserves and absolutely should be in New York if he keeps playing this way.
The new name on the block (Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn)
I mean, honestly, is there a better name for a running back than Kerryon (pronounced “carry-on”). The short answer is, “No,” and he might have the most appropriate name in college football besides Arkansas State’s Dee Liner (no, I’m not making that up).
Anyway, Johnson was the spark plug in Auburn’s 40-17 beatdown of Georgia, carrying the ball 32 times for 167 yards. He has topped the 1,000-yard mark for the season, and with 15 rushing touchdowns is among the leaders in that category nationally as well.
Johnson still has some work to do to get to New York, but with a game against Alabama and a potential SEC title game rematch, he’ll have his opportunities to impress voters late.
Others still in the mix but falling fast (Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State; Bryce Love, RB, Stanford; Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame)
All three of these guys have – at various points – either been the leaders, or near the top of the Heisman list this season. All three will need a miracle to win it at this point.
Barkley is still probably the best “football player” in the sport but statistically just hasn’t done enough to earn serious merit. He had just 35 yards rushing on Saturday (although he did have two touchdowns), marking the fourth time in fifth games he hasn’t broken the 100-yard mark. And with games against Nebraska and Maryland left, he won’t have the big stage left to catch voters eyes. It’s the same for Bryce Love, who probably kissed his Heisman hopes goodbye two weeks ago against Washington State (even if he did have 166 yards against Washington on Friday).
And, finally, there’s poor Josh Adams. Adams was absolutely rolling at one point this season, highlighted by a pair of monster performances against USC and N.C .State in back-to-back weeks (191 yards and then 202). But the last two weeks have been a disaster; he took just four carries before sustaining a head injury last week against Wake Forest, then had an abysmal 16-carry, 40-yard night against Miami Saturday.
Like Notre Dame’s playoff chances, Adams’ Heisman hopes went up in smoke on Saturday. Better luck next year.
- 7 things we learned from a wild weekend of college football
- Oklahoma outguns TCU with first-half explosion