Written by: Coleman Bahr – Staff Writer (@ColemanBahr)
Lamar Jackson- Louisville Cardinals (QB)
Coming off his worst start of the season, Lamar Jackson made one thing clear: that performance was an outlier. Jackson was strictly business in Louisville’s 54-13 win over North Carolina State, throwing for 355 yards and three scores, while tacking on another 76 yards rushing, and a touchdown. Jackson already has 34 total touchdowns through seven contests, and he also boasts the highest total quarterback rating in the nation, making him the clear-cut Heisman frontrunner entering week nine.
Deshaun Watson- Clemson Tigers (QB)
Clemson had a bye week, so there’s not much of a change here for Deshaun Watson. However, Clemson has a huge game at Florida State this weekend, and even with a depleted Florida State secondary, a win would help close the gap between him and Lamar Jackson. While Watson isn’t the same player we saw in 2015, he still has 20 touchdowns, and he has willed Clemson to an undefeated campaign in 2016.
Jake Browning- Washington Huskies (QB)
Jake Browning is slowly climbing the Heisman ranks, and another strong performance officially brought him above J.T Barrett. While he did see a season low in completion percentage of 50%, he still managed 291 yards, and four total touchdowns in a 41-17 drubbing of Oregon State. He now ranks first in the nation in raw QBR, and fourth in total touchdowns. While critics may question Washington’s strength of schedule, they have been just running rampant on every team they have played this season, and when a tough challenge arises, Browning and company will be ready for the task.
J.T Barrett- Ohio State Buckeyes (QB)
Penn State pulled off the greatest upset of the college football season, and J.T Barrett’s Heisman stock takes a dip because of it. The loss was hardly his fault tough, as he spent most of his time running from that ferocious Penn State pass rush. On the bright side, he passed for 245 yards, his highest total against a power five school this season, but on the not-so-bright side, his QBR was a lowly 43.3. If Barrett can lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated record from here on out, I’d be impressed, but he’s still just a long shot for the Heisman trophy.
Dalvin Cook- Florida State Seminoles (RB)
Florida State had the week off, and most importantly, they had two weeks to prepare for third ranked Clemson. As for Dalvin Cook, he has been the most versatile back in the nation, rushing for 900 yards, and adding another 326 receiving, with eight scores. However, after his slow start to 2016, he needs a strong finish to his junior campaign, and it all starts with a win over Clemson. While a Clemson loss would make the playoff picture a bit blurry, I’m all for the chaos that is college football.
| Honorable Mention
Jalen Hurts- Alabama Crimson Tide (QB)
Wait, an Alabama quarterback is in the Heisman race? Well, this is strange. Alabama was already a terrifying team coming into 2016, and true freshman Jalen Hurts has made them an even better football team, which I didn’t think was possible. Hurts has a bit of a turnover issue with 4 INT’s in the last three games, but his ability as a dual threat QB has been hard for even the best SEC teams to defend (not that the SEC is good, but still). Alabama has two weeks to prepare for their next game against LSU, and giving Nick Saban more than a week to prepare for any opponent is as dangerous situation, so I expect them to steamroll right over LSU.