Top Heisman contender J.T. Barrett couldn’t lead his Ohio State side to victory over Penn State, which put a major dent in his Heisman chances. There are other candidates who are building their campaigns nicely, but later games in the year will determine if they’re ready to compete for the trophy. Here’s the Heisman rankings after Week 8:
Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
The Crimson Tide’s defense has been the MVP for Alabama this season and NFL prospect Jonathan Allen is the leader of the pack. It’s rare for a defensive player to be considered for the Heisman unless he takes part on offense, but Jonathan Allen’s work this season puts him ahead of anyone on his offense, especially quarterback Jalen Hurts. Last week against Texas A&M, Allen recovered a fumble and returned it for 39 yards to help Bama extend their lead over the Aggies. Allen has had some quarterback hurries and a huge sack, where he ripped up the Aggies’ offensive line and took Trevor Knight down with a big hit. Allen won’t win the Heisman, but he deserves recognition for being the key player of this stout defense.
Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
Surprisingly, this is the first time Leonard Fournette has been mentioned in my rankings, but he returned from injury to help LSU win their third straight game. It only took Fournette seven carries to reach the 200-yard mark, including a 78-yard TD in the 2nd quarter to break the tie between the Tigers and Ole Miss. Fournette finished with 284 yards and 3 TDs, which would put him in my top 5 if not for the way his season has played out so far. Fournette could make a late play for the Heisman if he continues performances like this but his next opponent is Alabama – also known as the team who ruined Fournette’s Heisman dream last year.
Joe Williams (RB, Utah)
Williams retired for four games before making his return to football a couple of weeks ago. This week he ran for a school-record 332 yards for 4 TDs on 29 carries, which led to Utah’s 52-45 win over UCLA. A big performance like this deserves to be in my Honourable Mentions, even for someone who had retired from the game earlier in the year.
Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma) & Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
Considering both these quarterbacks were involved in a game which produced 1,708 yards – an NCAA record, these two deserve to be mentioned in the same post. Mayfield threw for 545 yards and 7 TDs and was put in this week’s Honourable Mentions over his running back Joe Mixon, who ran for 263 yards and 2 TDs and his go-to guy Dede Westbrook, who caught 9 passes for 202 yards and 2 TDs, continuing his strong form as of late. Mahomes set an FBS record 819 individual yards, where he threw for 734 yards and 5 TDs and added 85 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. I wrote an article earlier in the season about how Mahomes deserved to be in the Heisman conversation but the play of his team as a whole is what lets him down and that was the case this week as Texas Tech went down to Oklahoma 66-59.
5) J.T. Barrett (QB, Ohio State) – WEEK 7: #3
Yes, Barrett struggled to beat an unranked Penn State team, which hurts his Heisman hopes. However, you could see this as a minor stumble in his Heisman race. Barrett is not completely out of it but will need to put on some big performances for the rest of the year, especially since the Buckeyes have two more Top 10 opponents left on their schedule. If Barrett can comeback and lead Ohio State to the College Football Playoff, he may still get an invitation to New York for the ceremony.
4) Donnel Pumphrey (RB, San Diego State) – WEEK 7: N/R
Pumphrey is the leading rusher in the FBS with 1,246 yards. He ran for 135 yards and 2 TDs in San Diego State’s 42-3 win over San Jose State, which put him past Marshall Faulk for most rushing touchdowns (58) and total touchdowns (63) in school history. Pumphrey is also now 11th in the all-time touchdown list in FBS history. Last week’s game his 20th consecutive game with more than 100 yards from scrimmage. The only reason Pumphrey won’t win the Heisman is the level of competition he plays against, but his consistency this year places him in the Top 5 for the first time this season.
3) Jake Browning (QB, Washington) – WEEK 7: #4
Browning didn’t have the best of games last week, but still did enough to lead the Huskies over Oregon State 41-17. He completed 50% of his passes, but finished with 291 yards and 3 TDs, while adding 21 yards and a score on the ground. Browning now has 15 TDs and zero interceptions over his last three games and is climbing up the Heisman ladder each week. He leads the nation in passer efficiency rating and will get a chance to shine on the big stage as Washington take on Utah this week.
2) Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson) – WEEK 7: #2
Watson and his Clemson Tigers enjoyed a break this week as they prepare for their battle with ACC rivals Florida State. His rivals didn’t do enough to overtake him but Heisman leader Lamar Jackson managed to extend his lead after a strong performance this week.
1) Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville) – WEEK 8: #1
Despite a quiet game by his standards last week, Jackson bounced back and took advantage of Deshaun Watson’s bye this week. He also did what his Heisman rival couldn’t do against NC State – defeat them comfortably. Jackson threw for 355 yards and 3 TDs, while also running for 76 yards and a score on the ground in the 54-13 victory. His performance this week broke Louisville’s all-time school record for most touchdowns responsible for in a season and with 6 games left on his schedule, he’s on pace to break the FBS record as well, which may be the Heisman-clinching moment.