Saquon Barkley was unable to separate himself from the gaining competition for the Heisman Trophy after Penn State was on a bye this past week. While he was away, running backs Bryce Love and Jonathan Taylor continued to play and chip away at Barkley's lead at the top. Here's how the entire top five shakes out:
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Barkley was idle this week as Penn State was on a bye. Fortunately for him, his top competitors didn’t really do enough to overtake him in the rankings. However, after a couple of relatively down performances, Barkley’s gap from the rest of the pack is surely dwindling. He’ll need to come up with something special against Michigan this weekend to replenish his stock as the Heisman candidate to beat.
2. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Love could afford to have a lighter workload after Stanford absolutely plowed through Oregon, 49-7. Love was able to sit out most of the second half, but not before garnering 147 more yards on just 17 carries and two touchdowns.
However, that 8.6 yards per carry average still lowered his season average of 10.27, which is insane given that he’s the only one in the top 10 of that stat with well over 100 carries. Love just keeps piling up the numbers to close the gap on Barkley, and he’ll have another opportunity to rack up big yardage against lowly Oregon State this weekend.
3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield didn’t have an outstanding Red River Shootout as he finished 17-of-27 for 302 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, his first of the season. However, he and the Sooners were still able to come away with the win, which is the important thing in that rivalry.
Still, Mayfield’s Heisman case has stalled out a bit after a blazing hot start, much like Barkley. And like the Penn State back, Mayfield needs to have another memorable performance in the coming weeks to rekindle the fire of his Heisman case.
4. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
There was a legitimate argument to be made for Taylor to leapfrog Mayfield and make it three running backs in the top three spots thanks to the freshman's impressive last couple of weeks. Taylor has rushed for back-to-back 200-plus-yard rushing games after beating Nebraska for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and plowing past Purdue for 219 yards and a score.
That’s now three 200-plus rushing yard games for the Badgers’ star running back, and is the second back behind Bryce Love in terms of yards per game. Wisconsin could very well run the table en route to an undefeated season. If Taylor can continue racking up the big rushing games as they keep winning, it’ll be hard to keep him out of the top three for long.
5. JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State
Speaking of hard to keep out, JT Barrett can no longer be denied. The Ohio State senior has been in sizzling form for a month now as he has led the Buckeyes to blowout win after blowout win. He came up with yet another spectacular performance against Nebraska as he completed 82 percent of his passes for 325 yards and five passing touchdowns, his second such game of the season. He also added two rushing touchdowns, giving him seven in the game. Unreal.
Barrett is now tied with West Virginia’s Will Grier for the national lead with 21 touchdown passes, And he just has one interception all year long. Barrett won’t have the chance to progress any higher this weekend with Ohio State on a bye, but the following week will be the big one: at home against No. 2 Penn State. That’s the big spot he’s been waiting for, and if he can put together another fine performance, his poor showing in their loss to Oklahoma will be long forgotten.
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