Baker Mayfield and Who Else?

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College football is just a few weeks away from the 2017 Heisman Trophy Presentation.  In what’s arguably the most iconic, prestigious individual award in all of sports (no argument from me), the Heisman will belong to one deserving college football player who displayed excellence on and off the field for the entire season.  The finalists have not been made official yet, so for now let’s break down the likely candidates:

Baker Mayfield

  • 3,816 passing yards (2nd in FBS)
  • 34 TD’s / 5 Int’s (2nd in FBS in TD’s)
  • 199.31 QB Rating (1st in FBS)
  • 70.8% (1st in FBS minimum 15 pass attempts per game)
  • 11.6 yards/att (1st in FBS)
  • 346.9 passing YPG (3rd in FBS)
  • 5 rushing TD’s (not bad for a quarterback)

Mayfield has been college football’s most consistently great player all year.  Many players have arguably had better weeks, moments, games, but Mayfield is the epitome of efficiency in the FBS.  What’s even more impressive is that Mayfield has been at his best against his best opponents.  Versus then #2 Ohio St, Mayfield outshined Heisman candidate JT Barrett completing 77% of his passes for 386 yards and three TD’s.  Against then #11 Oklahoma St, Mayfield outshined another Heisman candidate throwing for 598 yards and five TD’s.  Even against the better defenses in the FBS, Mayfield delivers like he did against TCU with a 333-yard, three TD performance.

With his imposing statistical output, Mayfield can watch Oklahoma’s last game against West Virginia from inside the Sooner Wagon and still be the favorite for the stiff-arming trophy.  He won’t sit this one out (in the 1st quarter at least) but his services might not be necessary.  West Virginia comes into Norman, OK as heavy underdogs…before they lost their starting QB to a broken finger.  Now, without Will Grier the Mountaineers’ chances are slimmer than an FCS beating ‘Bama.

Penciling Oklahoma’s last game in as a “W,” the last hurdle is the BIG-12 Championship Game in what will likely be TCU.  This game could be tricky.  Obviously Mayfield had success against the Horned Frogs defense previously, but with experience comes wisdom and maybe TCU can do what no one else has been able to – figure out Baker Mayfield.  That or he’ll figure them out again and eviscerate the hopes and dreams of a potential party crasher in TCU.

More penciling and Mayfield has basically been written into the ceremony in New York City.  It’s way to early to say that the engraving process has begun on the trophy, but there’s no doubt whoever engraves the name knows how to spell his Mayfield’s precisely.  The only question remaining is one Baker Mayfield can borrow from Jerry McGuire, “Who’s coming with me?”

Lamar Jackson

  • 3,273 passing yards (10th in FBS)
  • 23 TD’s / 6 Int’s (19th in FBS in TD passes)
  • 149.44 QB Rating (better than last year)
  • 59.8% (better than last year)
  • 1,287 Rushing Yards (15th in FBS, 4th among QB’s)
  • 17 Rushing TD’s (t-3rd in FBS)
  • 414.5 total YPG (1st in FBS)

A lot of people who follow college football all asked the same question after Lamar Jackson’s insane, record-breaking Heisman-winning year in 2016, “What could he possibly do for an encore?”  Well, he’s come pretty dang close to duplicating that video game season he had last year.

In a lot of ways Jackson has improved since 2016.  He’s throwing for more yards per game, running for more yards per carry and turning the ball over less.  He doesn’t have the touchdown total that he had last year, but 40 total touchdowns with one more game to go is still insanely good.

Jackson set his bar so astronomically high, it would be nearly impossible for anybody to copy and paste his stats from 2016.  However, despite his team not having the same national recognition as a year ago(7-4 in 2017), Jackson is still very deserving of a trip to NYC.  He’s going to be there anyways because all previous winners are invited.  Will he be sitting next to Baker Mayfield or Johnny Manziel?

Next Game:  @ Kentucky

Bryce Love

  • 1,723 rushing yards (2nd in FBS)
  • 16 rushing TD’s (t-7th in FBS)
  • 172.3 rushing YPG (1st in FBS)

Despite leading the country in rushing much of the season, Love’s rushing stats should have an asterisk next to them because he’s done a lot of this on basically one functioning ankle.  In the last four games, Love has missed long periods of games including one entire game because of the joint connecting the foot with leg. Yet, Love is leading the PAC-12 in rushing and TD’s and is averaging a ridiculous 8.84 YPC.

Up next, Love and Stanford will get a nationally televised game against highly ranked Notre Dame.  Hopefully Love’s ankle holds up so college football fans around the country can witness the speed and elusiveness he possesses.

Love is likely going to need a little help from the Huskies of Washington this weekend otherwise Love is headed down a similar Stanford path of Heisman runner-ups (Andrew Luck, Toby Gearhart, Christian McCaffrey).  If UW beats Washington St in the Apple Cup, Stanford will get to compete in the PAC-12 Championship against USC, a team Love torched for 180 yards earlier in the year. The more exposure a player on the West Coast can get from voters on the East Coast the better.  Love needs that PAC-12 Championship like he needs two functioning ankles.

Jonathan Taylor

  • 1,657 rushing yards (3rd in FBS)
  • 12 Rushing TD’s (t-21st in FBS)
  • 150.64 rushing YPG (3rd in FBS)

The freshman RB for the Wisconsin Badgers is a long shot to win, let alone get invited to NYC.  But then again, Wisconsin was a long shot to make the playoffs and compete for the National Championship and here we are.  The Badgers are 11-0.  They’re going to play in the BIG-Ten Championship against a respectable opponent in Ohio State.  Need an excuse ‘why’ and ‘how’ they got here?  One big reason is the play of their consistently dominant running back Jonathan Taylor.

I’m not a statistics major but if your season low is 73 yards and your high is 249 yards, that tells me you have had an impact in every game you’ve played in.  If that impact has helped the result with your team winning every game you’ve played in, I’m going to assume there’s some correlation there.  If you’re a really good player on a really good team, you deserve every bit of credit you get and maybe that credit is in the form of an invitation to NYC.  A monster game against Ohio State would certainly solidify Taylor’s value.

Rashaad Penny

  • 1,824 rushing yards (1st in FBS)
  • 17 rushing TD’s (t-3rd in FBS)
  • 223 total yards per game (1st in FBS)

The likelihood of Penny getting invited to NYC is less than 1% to bee honest.  But I think an amazing season like the one he’s having should not go unnoticed.  Penny has more yards than Love, more rushing TD’s than everybody on this list and is accounting for more all-purpose yards than Saquon Barkley.  Unfortunately San Diego State (9-2) isn’t exactly landing national headline space over Alabama or Ohio State anytime soon.  Heisman-worthy, probably not but a phenomenal season none-the-less.

Saquon Barkley

  • 1,057 rushing yards
  • 590 receiving yards
  • 188.2 all-purpose yards per game
  • Touchdowns: 14 rushing, 3 receiving, 1 throwing, 2 kickoff returns

Barkley’s total yard stats appear underwhelming, but they don’t tell the entire story.  For about a month Barkley was the best player in college football, hands down.  He’s arguably the most electrifying athlete in all of college sports.  A Barkley 10-yard run could feel like a 50-yard run because he can do things that doesn’t appear humanly possible.  Barkley’s highlights should be called “The Wow Factory.”

Despite sharing stardom with Penn State’s sensational QB Trace McSorley, Barkley’s arguably the Most Valuable Player on any team in the country.  He does so much for Penn State.  Obviously he’s leading the Nittany Lions in rushing, Barkley is also 2nd in receiving yards and t-1st in receptions and he’s 8th in the FBS in kickoff return average (30.1).  The icing on the cake is that he’s 2/2 for 36 yards and a TD.  Barkley is sporting a QB rating 416.2.

The moment Barkley became a Heisman after-thought was when Ohio State and JT Barrett beat the Nittany Lions in the final minutes of the game.  Compounded was a loss the following week to Michigan State.  Two losses by a combined four points and suddenly Barkley is the best running back in college football anymore?  I don’t believe that is the case but the perception is there despite Barkley becoming Penn State’s all-time TD leader last week.  With one game left on the schedule before their bowl game, it would not surprise me if Penn State finds a way to get Barkley the ball 40+ times in some capacity.  One last Heisman push for one of the best running backs in college football.

J.T. Barrett

  • 2,698 passing yards
  • 32 TD’s / 7 Int’s (5th in FBS in TD’s)
  • 166.32 QB Rating (6th in FBS)
  • 66.9% (6th in FBS)
  • 605 rushing yards
  • 8 Rushing TD’s

Barrett and Ohio State again, playing important football with heavy stakes in late November.  It feels like this has been the same script for the last 3-4 years.  Barrett is having another solid year running the ball, but this year he’s throwing for more yards per game than any of his previous seasons.  He’s also on pace for more total TD’s.  Ohio State still has a shot at making the Final Four Playoffs if they can take care of business against rival Michigan and then again the following week in the BIG-Ten Championship game against Wisconsin.  These last two games are make-or-break time for Barrett and a NYC invite.  He’s already behind the 8-ball after being outperformed by front-runner Baker Mayfield early in the season.  That and a dismal showing in a blowout loss at Iowa just as everybody wanted to hoist Barrett onto the Heisman pedestal have really hindered Barrett despite having a really good season.  However, the stage is set just like it always is for Ohio State and J.T. Barrett to reclaim that pedestal.

 

One thought on “Baker Mayfield and Who Else?

  • Why is Rashaad Penny everyone’s afterthought? Does nobody connected with the award watch West Coast football/SDSU games on Saturday night? He had 2 down games, he runs behind a very young offensive line, he is schemed against every week…and he dominates those defenses keyed on stopping him. 420+ all purpose yards last week plus 4 scores. The Heisman dissed Marshall Faulk, ignored the career rushing leader in Darnell Pumphrey, and now this??? Wake up guys…there is not one Power 5 team who wouldn’t love to have him as their featured back, and this includes the teams with RBs listed as your finalists!

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