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NCAAF Heisman Watch: Week 4

Saquon Barkley has hurdled himself over the competition for the Heisman after a sensational outing against Iowa.

Week 4 was a mixed bag for the top Heisman Trophy contenders. While one top candidate was able to solidify his stock further, two star quarterbacks saw their stock drop significantly after dud performances. Here are the lists of the top Heisman candidates who saw their stock go up and down during the past weekend of games.

Stock Up

These are the three contenders who helped their Heisman chances with strong performances:

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley didn’t score the game-winning touchdown in Penn State’s incredible 21-19 win over Iowa, but without his contributions, the Nittany Lions likely wouldn’t have even been in a situation to win the game late in the fourth quarter.

Barkley was simply sensational against the Hawkeyes. He went for 211 rushing yards on 28 carries and a touchdown, while adding 94 yards on 12 catches, which is a new career-high. He also delivered what could be the enduring highlight of his Heisman video package when he hurdled past a Hawkeye defender and still landed on his feet while getting hit on his way down.

That performance against the Hawkeyes left very little doubt that Barkley is one of the top contenders, if not the favorite, for the Heisman Trophy along with Baker Mayfield until further notice.

Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

No one should be surprised to see Falk putting up big passing numbers in Washington State’s high-octane offense. However, the senior seems to be playing on another level thus far this season. He’s currently completing 77 percent of his passes (tops in the country) and is sporting a 14:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio to lead the Cougs to a perfect 4-0 record.

After torching Oregon State for nearly 400 yards (396 to be exact) and six touchdowns, Falk went off for 478 yards and five more TDs in Wazzu’s dominant win over Nevada.

While Falk figures to end up with some Heisman-worthy numbers, he still needs to get his Heisman-worthy performances against top competition. He figures to get exactly that when he faces USC this weekend. If he can out-duel falling Trojans star Sam Darnold and get the win at home, Falk’s status as a top-three Heisman contender may no longer be denied.

JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State

It’s been a while since anyone’s considered JT Barrett as a Heisman candidate, especially after Ohio State went down to Oklahoma. However, the senior Buckeyes quarterback reminded everyone exactly what he’s capable of when he lit up UNLV for five touchdown passes in a 54-21 win.

Since the Oklahoma loss, Barrett has topped 70 percent completion in back-to-back games, and has yet to yield an interception. His 241 passing yards per game and 156.78 passer rating are comparable to Kenny Hill, which is not quite a compliment, but his 10:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio does look smart.

Barrett is still some way toward true Heisman contender status, but he will at least have the chance to rack up more impressive stats in the next three weeks against Rutgers, Maryland, and Nebraska. 

Stock Down

These are the three contenders who hurt their Heisman chances in their last game:

Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Darnold is officially experiencing a bit of a sophomore slump. The USC quarterback came into the season with a ton of Heisman hype, but through the first month of the season, it’s safe to say he’s fallen way short of expectations.

Darnold had another unconvincing performance in a win against Cal. He threw for just 223 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The one pick he threw was actually an improvement as he threw two in each of his first three games.

A nine-to-seven touchdown-to-interception ratio certainly isn’t going to get the job done, even if Darnold leads the team to an undefeated season. They very nearly lost against Texas and are in legitimate danger of falling to Wazzu this weekend. 

It might have seemed hard to believe at the start of the season, but another disappointing performance from Darnold in a loss to Washington State could potentially spell the end of his Heisman charge just five weeks into the season.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Speaking of failing to live up to the hype, Mason Rudolph and the Oklahoma State Cowboys laid a massive egg in their first true test of the season against TCU. The senior went just 22-of-41 and threw interceptions as the Cowboys fell to the Horned Frogs at home.

That loss doesn’t completely rule Rudolph out of the running, not by a long shot. However, it basically took away his margin for error for basically the entire season. Oklahoma State’s offense is so explosive that he figures to keep racking up great numbers all year long. But he also needs wins, particularly one against Oklahoma at Bedlam, to get back into true top-tier Heisman contention.

Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State

Fitzgerald was always a bit of a long shot to win the Heisman even with his strong performance to beat LSU. And following Mississippi State’s embarrassing 31-3 loss to Georgia, Fitzgerald’s candidacy has to be close to nil. 

The junior had a truly disastrous game against Georgia’s defense as he finished just 14-of-29 for 83 yards and threw two picks. He couldn’t even get going on the ground and could only muster 47 yards with his feet.

Fitzgerald didn’t have the most impressive Heisman resume statistically even before losing to Georgia, and it’ll now take something incredibly special for the Bulldogs QB to even re-enter the Heisman conversation again after that heavy defeat.

Are there other Heisman contenders who caught your eye, positively or negatively? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Brad Taningco

Brad Taningco has been a RealSport NBA contributor since Decemeber 2016. But apart from basketball, he's also a fan of soccer, American football, baseball, and ice hockey.

NCAAF Heisman Watch: Week 4

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