Week 4 saw new players emerge as Heisman candidates, while pre-season favourites finally started to show the form that made them Heisman contenders. The ones to watch have been included in this week’s Honourable Mentions. There is a new entrant in my Top 5 this week – someone who should’ve been in my rankings from the beginning but may finally be gaining some momentum. However, he faces his toughest challenge in Week 5. Here’s this week’s Heisman rankings after Week 4:
Trevor Knight (QB, Texas A&M)
While Myles Garrett is making plays on the defensive side of the ball, people tend to forget about the signal-caller that is operating Kevin Sumlin’s offense. Trevor Knight added his name to the Heisman race this week with a spectacular performance against Arkansas. The former Oklahoma Sooner, who notably led the Sooners to a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama in 2014, threw for 225 yards and 2 TDs and rushed for 157 yards and 2 TDs, which for those keeping count is 382 total yards and 4 TDs. A&M are currently in the Top 10 of the AP rankings and are certainly in the hunt in the SEC West, as long as Knight can keep up this form over the next month with key fixtures against Tennessee and Alabama.
Josh Dobbs (QB, Tennessee)
Another SEC quarterback making waves is Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs, who led the Volunteers from 21-0 down against Florida, before scoring 38 unanswered points for the victory. Dobbs accounted for 399 offensive yards and 5 TDs in the win. The Vols are slowly starting to show the potential that made them a pre-season dark horse candidate to win the SEC. The play of Dobbs will be key over the next month, as they face Georgia, Texas A&M and Alabama in the coming weeks.
Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
Cook was a pre-season favourite to win the Heisman Trophy after a strong 2015 that was marred by injury. However, he struggled to get off the blocks with the emergence of freshman QB Deondre Francois and his inability to reach 100 yards in any game this year. That all changed on Saturday as Cook rushed for a career high 267 yards and 2 TDs. He added to his tally by catching 4 passes for 62 yards. It’s hard to imagine Cook winning the Heisman at this point, especially the way Florida State’s season has gone so far, but some strong performances to finish off the year will certainly help his NFL draft stock.
Seth Russell (QB, Baylor)
Russell’s performances have gone quiet so far this season, which is due to Baylor not having faced any real competition at this point. However, it should be noted how well the Baylor QB has been playing. Russell had a total of 452 offensive yards, while throwing for 4 TDs in Baylor’s 35-24 win over Oklahoma State. The Baylor star was a Heisman contender in 2015, before a neck injury ended his season, which not only hurt Russell’s Heisman hopes, but Baylor’s playoff chances as well. This year, the Bears are the Big 12’s best chance to make the College Football Playoff, but they won’t have any competitive games until late in the year. If they can win out on the back of Russell’s play, then the quarterback can possibly gain an invite to New York.
5) Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson) – WEEK 3: N/R
He’s finally on the board! Last year’s Heisman finalist is starting to show the form that got him to New York last season. He led the Tigers to a 26-7 win over Georgia Tech, their first win in Atlanta since 2003. Watson finished with 304 yards and 2 TDs, while also rushing for 36 yards. Clemson had been underwhelming to start the year and that has been off the back of Watson’s play. Now Watson awaits his biggest challenge of the year with Louisville visiting Death Valley this week. The Cardinals seemingly dashed Florida State’s Deondre Francois and Dalvin Cook’s Heisman hopes in Week 3. Will they do the same to Deshaun Watson?
4) Greg Ward Jr (QB, Houston) – WEEK 3: #4
Houston had a nice tune-up game this week, dispatching Texas State 64-3. Despite the weak challenger, Ward still put up big numbers, finishing with 328 total yards and 3 TDs. It’ll be tough for Ward to win the Heisman with Houston’s weak schedule, but if his fellow candidates slip up along the way, Ward could sneak in and steal the Heisman at the finishing line.
3) Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford) – WEEK 3: #3
Stanford faced a tough UCLA outfit on the weekend and needed a last second TD in the 4th quarter to gain the win. Although McCaffrey rushed for 138 yards, he was kept quiet for most of the game. His longest run of the day was only 13 yards. McCaffrey had a big chance to leapfrog my #2 ranked candidate JT Barrett, who had a bye this week, but failed to put on a big performance that was needed to put UCLA away.
2) J.T. Barrett (QB, Ohio State) – WEEK 3: #2
Barrett remains in 2nd place this week despite the Buckeyes having a bye following their big win over Oklahoma in Week 3. Other Heisman candidates failed to take advantage of Barrett not playing, leaving the Heisman contender in a good position. The Buckeyes kick off Big Ten action against the 2-2 Rutgers Scarlet Knights this week, meaning Barrett can put on a big performance which can keep him close to Lamar Jackson.
1) Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville) – WEEK 3: #1
The Lamar Jackson Show stopped by Marshall in Week 4 and the Heisman race leader continued to stretch his lead over everyone else. Despite being contained at times in the first quarter, Jackson still finished with 479 total yards and 7 TDs, which puts his season tally at 25. Jackson visits Deshaun Watson and Clemson this week in what will be one of the biggest games this season. If Jackson can put up another strong outing and create his Heisman moment by beating Clemson in Death Valley, it’ll be hard to beat him in the Heisman race at this point.