Poor Sam Darnold. The preseason Heisman darling had a rough start to the season, and it finally caught up with him in a big way in USC’s loss to Washington State. The USC QB is now completely out of the Heisman Watch Top Five – for now.
A trio of other top quarterbacks remain, while two incredible running backs bookend this week’s ranking of the top Heisman contenders.
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Even in a game where he has a paltry 107 total rushing and receiving yards, Saquon Barkley still finds a way to shine. The Penn State running back started the game off with a scintillating 98-yard kick return for a touchdown against Indiana. He also showed off his arm by throwing for a 16-yard touchdown.
There’s still well over half the season remaining, but Barkley seems like the clear frontrunner for the Heisman. If he maintains his average of 192 yards from scrimmage (second in the country) and sprinkles in a few more touchdowns - from special teams, passing, rushing, a pick-six, whatever - the Trophy will be all but his.
2. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield was idle last weekend with Oklahoma on a bye, but even with his inactivity, he maintains his status as the clear top contender along with Barkley for the Heisman Trophy. Mayfield’s 228.25 passer rating leads the nation by a wide margin, which is similar to the margin between him and the next realistic Heisman contender.
The senior Sooner has thrown at least three touchdowns in each of his first four games this season. He’s already thrown 13 touchdowns and has yet to throw a single interception, the only player in the top 25 in touchdown passes who’s yet to do so. Mayfield's Heisman hopes are alive and well, and it’ll take something disastrous for him to slide down the pecking order.
3. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State Cowboys were rocky for the second straight week as they labored to put away Texas Tech on the road. But their star quarterback and Heisman hopeful Rudolph was there to save the day.
Rudolph had another 426 yards of total offense with five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) to ensure that the Cowboys didn't suffer back-to-back losses which would've torpedoed their season, not to mention his Heisman hopes.
Given the gaudy stats he can put up in this explosive and prolific Oklahoma State offense, Rudolph figures to be a firm contender as long as his team manages to continue winning. However, it’s hard to see him doing anything to improve his ranking significantly before Bedlam.
4. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Even with a loss already under his belt, Lamar Jackson just continues to linger. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner had a slightly shorter outing last weekend as Louisville made quick work of Murray State. However, Jackson still had enough time to register 349 total yards and four total touchdowns.
Jackson remains one of the leaders in total offense, and is just one of two players in the nation to average over 400 total yards per game. He’ll need to keep putting up similar numbers to have a realistic shot of staying in the race, but more importantly, he’ll need to avoid another loss. That will be easier said than done when Louisville visits NC State this week.
5. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
It’s time to give Stanford’s Bryce Love some love. The junior running back had another unbelievable outing against Arizona State as he went for 301 yards on 25 carries with three touchdowns. His 301 yards shattered Christian McCaffrey's single-game school rushing record, and his second straight game of 250-plus rushing yards.
Love is just blowing everyone away in terms of rushing yards per game (217.6) and even though he’s a nonexistent receiving threat, also leads all players in yards from scrimmage. If he continues at this record-breaking pace, his Heisman case may be too good to ignore.
Which other Heisman hopefuls do you think deserved a spot in the top five? Let us know in the comments below!
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