More than halfway through the season the most interesting Heisman conversation remains “who will earn an invite to New York” as opposed to “who will win the award.” The race remains Lamar Jackson’s to lose.
A host of performers continue to fight for the trophy should the leader stumble. Detractors of this list will lament Jabrill Peppers’ omission. The Michigan athlete remains in the conversation for best players in college football. But the conversation here pertains to an invite to the Heisman ceremony.
10. RB Donnel Pumphrey (San Diego State)—Sitting eighth all-time in NCAA career rushing yards, Pumphrey has time to make a run at the record. Should he make that splash, he may merit an invite.
9. QB Trevor Knight (TAMU)—Despite an abysmal performance against Alabama, Knight still belongs in the top ten. His Aggies remain in the SEC West hunt, and it has largely been due to his standout performance.
8. RB Dalvin Cook (Florida State)—The Seminole has rebounded from a slow start and is ready to try to make a statement against Clemson. If he leads his team to an upset, he could earn his way into the conversation.
7. RB Leonard Fournette (LSU)—Fournette has only played in four games, but he has been a monster when he has been on the field. After emasculating the Ole Miss defense, Fournette earned the right to return to the discussion and could vie for some real attention if he can perform big against Alabama on November 5.
6. Big 12 QBs—Yes, I am cheating here. Three teams sit atop the Big 12 standings with quarterbacks who quietly makes a Heisman case. Skyler Howard (West Virginia) is leading a surprise contender, Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) is coming off a monster week, and Seth Russell (Baylor) will not go quietly. Only one can be truly viable so we will have to see how the conference race plays out.
5. QB JT Barrett (Ohio State)—After weeks of poor passing performances, Barrett’s poor rushing output proved to be his undoing as the Buckeyes stumbled against Penn State. I still think Barrett gets an invite, but that is no longer a sure thing.
4. QB Jalen Hurts (Alabama)—If there is a dark horse to challenge Jackson, look at the Tide signal caller. His team keeps winning, and his candidacy is gaining real attention. Should Jackson stumble, Hurts could be the guy to benefit.
3. QB Jake Browning (Washington)—The Huskies’ quarterback, a non-entity as a runner, boasts only one 300+ yard passing performance yet ranks among the top-three contenders this week. At the helm of the nation’s surprise team, Browning needs a big performance against Utah this week.
2. QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson)—While Watson stays at #2, his case took a major hit this week. Not only was he sitting on the sidelines watching Jackson dominate, he was also seeing the Cardinals dismantle a team that took his Tigers to the brink the week before. Last year’s invitee needs a big game against FSU this week.
1. QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)—NC State was supposed to at least be a moderate challenge for the high-powered Cardinals. Lamar Jackson was having none of that. Much as he has done all season, Jackson put up massive numbers in a route and once again asserted dominance in the Heisman race.