With Louisville’s loss against Clemson last Saturday, the debate for Heisman front-runner is more debatable now than it has been for the past 11 months. As we get set to kickoff conference play and the season begins to unwrap itself, what we learned or thought we know can be forgotten any given Saturday. Despite the spectacular play by some, the amazing games and wild finishes we watched, the real season begins this weekend and anything can happen, including the emergence of a relatively unknown potential Heisman winner nobody is talking about. For now, I give you:
HeismanWatch.com’s Week 3 Heisman Rankings
1) Baker Mayfield
Still the most impressive win of the season, Oklahoma thumping Ohio St. in Columbus, OH. Mayfield not only has the exceptional team to back him up, 3-0 and ranked #3 in both Coaches and AP Polls, respectively, but Mayfield is doing it on the stat sheet as well. Here’s Mayfield’s ranking among P-5 quarterbacks:
- 1st in QB rating (224.2)
- 1st in YDS/A (12.8)
- 3rd in completion % (76.8%)
- 5th in yards (1,046)
- 5th in TD’s (10)
- 1st in INT’s (0)
Cliff notes version of Mayfield’s stats: Mayfield completes passes down the field more consistently than anybody and throws for a lot of yards and touchdowns, never to the other team and rarely throws and incomplete pass. I’m pretty sure that’s everything anybody would ever want out of their quarterback.
2) Saquon Barkley
Barkley is the most dynamic running back in college football. He’s also benefitting on the Heisman discussion because he’s the anomaly in the ‘Heisman Year of the Quarterback.’ Penn St. is currently ranked #4 in both Coaches and AP Polls and a lot of that is because their running back can do it all for the Nittany Lions.
Barkley’s 182.7 average total yards from scrimmage are 2nd in the country among P-5 schools, behind Oregon’s Royce Freeman (189.7). At 11.2 yards per touch, it’s surprising Penn St. doesn’t find a way to give him the ball every time, after all he scores a TD one out of every 9.8 touches. The teams leading receiver and rusher is on pace for around 2,200 total yards. The last three running backs to win the Heisman, (Derrick Henry, Mark Ingram and Reggie Bush) have a combined average of 2,173 yards in their respective, award-winning season.
3) Mason Rudolph
Not to diminish anything Rudolph has done thus far, but for now Rudolph is ranked #3 on our list. This weekend, the offense of the #6 Oklahoma State Cowboys face their toughest opponent by far. Before we get to that, Rudolph and the Cowboys have feasted on opposing pass defenses. Rudolph’s numbers through three games:
- 5th in FBS in passing YPG (378.3)
- 3rd in rating among P-5 schools (210.25)
- 2nd in YDS/A among P-5 schools (12.1)
- T-2nd among all schools in TD’s (11)
- 9th in completion percentage among P-5 schools (72.3%)
As a team, the Cowboys are 4th in the country averaging 54 PPG. Pretty impressive except the part where their opponents have yet to stop anybody else all year. The Cowboys first three opponents, (Tulsa, South Alabama, and Pitt) are giving up a combined average of 48.3 PPG against fellow FBS teams. Saturday, 3-0 and #16 ranked TCU and their stifling defense travel to Stillwater, OK. The Horned Frogs are only giving up 172.7 passing YPG to opposing QB’s on just 45.3% completions. Something’s gotta give and Rudolph’s path to the Heisman just got a little rocky.
4) Lamar Jackson
If the Heisman is awarded to a team’s Most Valuable Player, Jackson would be #1 without question. Last Saturday, Jackson did all he could for the Cardinals but they were clearly over-matched against the defending National Champion’s, the Clemson Tigers. Aside from Alabama, Clemson has arguably the most talented defensive unit in college football, yet Jackson still managed 317 yards passing and 64 yards rushing.
Clearly the loss hurts Jackson’s Heisman quest at a repeat, but that’s only because other candidates haven’t lost yet. Not everyone is going to go undefeated, but Jackson can’t afford to lose anymore. On the bright side, Jackson’s numbers are still highly impressive:
- 4th among P-5 schools in total passing yards (1,088)
- 303 yards rushing, that’s only 4 yards behind RB Saquon Barkley
- 1st in total offensive yards per game (463.7 YPG)
5) Josh Rosen
Hard to blame Rosen in UCLA’s 48-45 defeat at Memphis last Saturday. He did throw for 463 yards and accounted for five TD’s. The two interceptions certainly didn’t help but interceptions is the exact reason cross-town rival, USC’s Sam Darnold isn’t in this spot of our rankings. I’m only writing this because I’m assuming you’re thinking this. Comparing the two statistically:
- Rosen: 1,283 total passing yards (1st in FBS)
- Darnold: 1,002 total passing yards (12th in FBS)
- Rosen: 13 passing touchdowns (1st in FBS)
- Darnold: 7 passing touchdowns (t-25th in FBS)
- Rosen: 2 interceptions
- Darnold: 6 interceptions
- Rosen: largest comeback win – 34 points against Texas A&M
- Darnold: largest comeback win – 7 points against Western Michigan
- Freeman is 2nd among P-5 schools averaging 153.3 rushing YPG. His 9 rushing TD’s are first in the country. The #24 Oregon Ducks are 3-0 heading into PAC-12 play. Oregon still has talent left over from really good teams and recruiting classes of years past. A deep run in PAC-12 play paired with another stellar season out of Freeman and we may be talking more and more about this running Duck.
- Our weekly recognition of the ‘little’ schools goes to RB Rashaad Penny from San Diego State University. You may not know this but Penny is leading the country in rushing with 588 yards at nearly 8.3 YPC. If you don’t follow SDSU football then you’ll probably make an uneducated assumption that this Mountain West team hasn’t played anybody yet. Well, Penny ran for 216 yards (including a 95-yarder) against Arizona St. and 175 yards against Stanford, two PAC-12 teams. The toughest team left on the schedule is a home tilt against Boise State on Oct. 14. Aside from that, it’s feasible that #22 SDSU could run the table, earning a New Years 6 invite and a Heisman Ceremony invitation for Penny as well.
- As soon as those interceptions dissipate his Heisman stock will sky-rocket.
- Trying to sneak up on the college football world yet again. The ‘Epitome of Efficiency,’ Browning is guiding the #7 Washington Huskies to yet another stellar season. For the year, Browning is completing 74.4% of his passes for 266 YPG with an 8/1 TD:INT ratio equating to a 191.6 passer rating.
- In two weeks, #13 Virginia Tech hosts #2 Clemson in prime time. Until then, keep QB Josh Jackson in the back of your mind because his Heisman emergence could be front and center in your living room that night. On the year, Jackson has 829 yards passing, eight TD’s and no INT’s.
*Team rankings reflect AP Poll as of 9/19/2017
*List is the opinion of the writers at HeismanWatch.com and is in no way affiliated with the Heisman Trust or the Heisman Trophy.
*Stats courtesy of cfbstats.com