1.Lamar Jackson QB Louisville
Key Stats: 913 Passing Yards, 8 TD Passes, 464 Rushing Yards, 10 Rushing TDs
The clear front runner right now, Jackson has not only been putting up huge numbers against lesser opponents (Charlotte, Syracuse), but he’s dominated one of the top teams in the nation (Florida State). Jackson is one of the best athletes in college football and he’s asked to do more in that offense than former Heisman winner Cam Newton was asked to do at Auburn. With some highlight reel plays and hurdle to go with it, if he keeps the Cardinals winning and keeps the stats up, he’ll be a shoo-in for a trip to New York. The Clemson game on October 1st in Death Valley may make or break his campaign.
2. JT Barrett QB Ohio State
Key Stats: 650 Passing Yards, 10 TD Passes, 159 Rushing Yards, 3 Rushing TD’s
Barrett is playing the best football he’s played since his redshirt freshmen season in 2014 and has the Buckeyes ranked number 2 in the nation. As one of only 3 starters back on the offense, 2 of which being offensive linemen, the fact that Barrett has the Buckeyes offense rolling like this (56.7 pts/g) is a true testament to his talent as both a quarterback and a leader. Barrett’s Heisman campaign may be based more on winning rather than statistics, with the Buckeyes having 4 more games this season against teams currently ranked in the top 20. If Barrett can lead the Buckeyes to another College Football Playoff berth, his seat in New York will be all but guaranteed.
3. Christian McCaffrey Playmaker Stanford
Key Stats: 291 Rushing Yards, 3 Rushing TD’s, 113 Receiving Yards, 1 TD Catch
Notice how rather than running back or athlete, I labeled him as a playmaker for David Shaw’s Cardinals. That’s because all this kid does is make plays, whether in the run game, passing game or on special teams, McCaffrey is a homerun threat in all aspects of the game. With the Cardinals losing longtime starting quarterback Kevin Hogan to graduation after last season, the offense has had to rely more on McCaffrey and he has continued to dominate as he did last season, when he broke Barry Saunders single season total yardage record. No doubt McCaffrey will have the numbers to earn another trip to New York.
Best Chance to Rise this Week
Deshaun Watson QB Clemson
Key Stats: 692 Passing Yards, 7 Passing TD’s
My preseason pick to win the award, Watson and the Tigers offense struggled the first 2 weeks of the season, but picked it up last week with a 59-0 win over South Carolina State. With a primetime game Thursday night against Georgia Tech, if Watson can keep the offensive momentum going and put up good numbers, then he’ll be right back in the thick of this race.
Patrick Mahomes II QB Texas Tech
Key Stats: 1493 Passing Yards, 14 Passing TD’s, 138 Rushing Yards, 4 Rushing TD’s
Yes, those stats are from 3 games this season. Texas Tech is known for having a high scoring offense, but seriously, those numbers are RIDICULOUS! Mahomes leads the nation in passing yards and touchdowns and is tied with Lamar Jackson for the most total touchdowns (18) this season. Is he just that good? Is he a product of the Kliff Kingsbury system? Who knows and who cares, numbers don’t lie and this kid is having a great year. If the Red Raiders can string together a solid, winning season, look for Mahomes to get that invite so many covet.