Losses by Clemson, Michigan and Washington helped create for Louisville a path to the College Football Playoff. It’s still a bit of a long shot — but the odds are far greater today than prior to this past weekend.
At the same time, those losses might have ensured that Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson lifts the Heisman Trophy in December. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson can no longer tout an undefeated season. Likewise with Washington quarterback Jake Browning.
The gap between Jackson and his next-closest Heisman competition has been widened to the point where he might need to lose at least one and perhaps both of the Cardinals’ final two games, against Houston and rival Kentucky.
Many have waited for a challenger to step up and leapfrog past Jackson. It hasn’t happened yet, and very likely won’t happen at all. Here’s this week’s top five and players just off the list:
1. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
This was probably Jackson’s worst game of the season: 145 yards passing while completing just over half of his attempts along with 153 yards rushing and one total touchdown. And that fact alone illustrates why he’s going to win the Heisman.
2. San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey
Pumphrey now stands just 221 yards shy of 2,000 yards for the year with another three games to go before the Heisman ceremony. At the very least, he should earn a seat at the event as a finalist.
3. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
It’s going to be nearly impossible for Watson to bypass Jackson now that Clemson is no longer unbeaten. That fact, along with a head-to-head win against the Cardinals, had Watson nipping at the frontrunner’s heels. But combined with his relative inconsistency, that loss will prevent Watson from lifting the Heisman.
4. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
Barrett’s candidacy rests on two key factors. The first is Ohio State’s place among the top teams in college football, even if the Buckeyes might be left on the outside of the College Football Playoff. The second is Barrett’s high level of play during OSU’s back-to-back blowout wins against Nebraska and Maryland.
5. Western Michigan QB Zach Terrell
This spot could easily go to one of Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers or Texas’ D’Onta Foreman. But let’s give it to a wildcard in Terrell, who has thrown just one interception in helping to lead WMU to a 10-0 start.
JUST OFF THE LIST
- Alabama QB Jalen Hurts
- Alabama DE Jonathan Allen
- Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
- Michigan LB Jabrill Peppers
- Oklahoma WR Dede Westbrook
- Penn State RB Saquon Barkley
- Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
- Texas RB D’Onta Foreman
- Washington QB Jake Browning
- Washington State QB Luke Falk