After Sam Darnold’s Heisman hopes went off the rails in Week 5, a couple more high-profile quarterbacks took a massive hit to their candidacy in Week 6. Lamar Jackson picked up his second loss of the year, while top contender Baker Mayfield suffered a shock home loss to Iowa State.
That wild week has seen a shake-up in the current Heisman Trophy top five rankings, which now shakes out like so:
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Statistically, Barkley had easily his least impressive game of the season in Penn State’s 31-7 win over Northwestern. The Nittany Lions running back had just 84 total yards from scrimmage, the first time he hasn’t totaled over 100 yards of offense this season. However, he still picked up two more touchdowns and provided just enough offense for Penn State to win quite handily.
That’s now two straight weeks of slightly subpar production from Barkley. The junior had just 108 yards from scrimmage against Indiana, although he was still able to contribute a kick return touchdown in what was ultimately a blowout. And now, Penn State gets into the meat of its Big Ten schedule with Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State in consecutive weeks.
Thanks to some of his main competitors slipping up this week, Barkley should still be considered the Heisman favorite. But he’s slowly losing ground at the top and if he continues his downward trajectory, he could lose his status as the Heisman frontrunner.
2. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Unsurprisingly, Love’s incredible run of 260-plus yard rushing games finally came to an end on the road against a very tough Utah team. However, his overall line – 152 rushing yards on 20 carries with a touchdown – remains impressive given the quality of Utah’s defense and the fact that hardly anyone is afraid of the Stanford passing attack. And yet Love is still able to churn out the yardage.
Although Love’s average rushing yards took a sizeable hit and now stands at 207 rushing yards per game, it’s still over 30 yards ahead of the next-closest rusher. That should tell you how remarkable his first five weeks of the season actually were.
The Stanford star is currently on pace to break Barry Sanders’ single-season FBS record of 2,628 rushing yards if the Cardinal get to a bowl game this season. If he can carry on with that record-setting pace beginning with Oregon this weekend, he’ll have a strong argument to leapfrog Barkley in the coming weeks.
3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
No one would accuse Baker Mayfield of having a bad game against Iowa State. The Sooners star went 24 of 33 for 306 passing yards and two touchdowns and added 57 rushing yards and a rushing score.
However, the team lost at home to Matt Campbell’s Cyclones, and while the Sooners defense has to take most of the responsibility for that loss, some of the blame must also fall on the feet of their leader, whose Heisman case has undeniably taken a hit.
Still, Mayfield now has 15 passing touchdowns and still hasn’t thrown a single interception all season. He also maintains his healthy lead atop the nation in terms of passer rating. Those are still more than Heisman-worthy stats. Mayfield is still right there in the mix and he’ll need to come up with some bad performances to slip out of the running completely.
4. Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
If not for Love, Falk would be by far the Pac-12’s best Heisman bet. The Washington State quarterback had an uncharacteristically rough passing game at Oregon as he completed just 24 of 42 passes (57 percent) for 282 yards. But he still threw for three touchdowns in an easy 33-10 win in Eugene, which is a tricky place to play. That came on the heels of his 340-yard effort to knock off USC the week before.
Even with his slightly disappointing percentage against the Ducks, Falk is still completing close to 72 percent of his passes, which is tied for third in the nation. Meanwhile, his 19 touchdown passes are currently the most of any quarterback, although he’s played one more game than Josh Rosen and Mason Rudolph.
That’s quite an impressive Heisman resume for Falk, one that will gain even more recognition the deeper he leads Wazzu toward a possible playoff push.
5. Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
In any other year, the season Penny’s been having in San Diego State would be good enough to make him one of the big stories of the year. However, Penny’s outstanding performances have been nudged out of the limelight by the brilliance of a couple other incredible running backs in Barkley and Love. Nevertheless, Penny is still more than deserving of some Heisman consideration based on his terrific year to date.
The Aztecs senior rushed for another 170 yards and had two touchdowns against UNLV, and had one of the highlights of the week as he ruthlessly bowled over an unfortunate Rebels defender.
After yet another productive game, Penny is now at 993 rushing yards on the year. He’s been a picture of consistency, rushing for over 100 yards in each of his first six games. He is right behind Love in terms of rushing yards per game for a running back with 165.5 and similarly has nine touchdowns. If that’s not worthy of some Heisman love, what is?
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