Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Louisville: 2,898 yards, 27 touchdowns, 1,334 rushing yards, 19 rushing touchdowns
For the first time this season Lamar Jackson looked mortal. In Louisville’s 44-12 victory against Wake Forest, Jackson scored one time. He threw a 2-yard touchdown with 4:05 left in the game. It was the first time this season Jackson didn’t accumulate 300 yards of total offense. It’s true, but he missed the 300-yard threshold by two yards, so it’s not like he was ineffective. With two games left, it would be almost impossible for him to lose the Heisman trophy. The two games left on the Cardinals’ schedule are Houston and Kentucky. These teams are good, but neither is ranked. Jackson faces Houston on Thursday.
Jake Browning, quarterback, Washington: 2,532 yards, 35 touchdowns
As we found out this week, Washington’s offense goes as Jake Browning goes. In the Huskies’ 26-13 loss against USC, Browning threw for 253 yards, but only one touchdown. It was his first game of the season in which Browning threw a lone touchdown. Another reason UW’s offense faltered was because Browning did not run effectively. He has not been an extraordinary runner, but he has been effective this season. Against USC, Browning rushed the ball for -36 yards on eight attempts. Despite this poor performance, Browning is still in prime position to be in New York for the Heisman presentation. The Huskies’ next opponent is Arizona State. The two square off Saturday.
Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Oklahoma: 3,212 yards, 33 touchdowns
Mayfield has quietly made his way back into the Heisman conversation. In the Sooners’ 45-24 victory against Baylor, Mayfield threw for 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown. Mayfield has been a scoring machine again this year. He has scored at least twice in every game this season. The difference between this season and last season for Mayfield is the rushing stats. Mayfield rushed for 405 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago, but this year he has rushed for only 131 yards and four touchdowns. Oklahoma will try to continue its seven-game winning streak Saturday against West Virginia.
J.T. Barrett, quarterback, Ohio State: 2,218 yards, 23 touchdowns, 617 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns
Ohio State crushed Maryland 62-3 on Saturday. It was the second weekend in a row in which the Buckeyes defeated their opponent 62-3. It’s also the second game in a row Barrett totaled four touchdowns. Last week, Barrett scored four times via the air. This week, he evened out his scoring distribution. The Buckeyes signal caller scored twice on the ground and twice through the air. It was his fifth time this season scoring four total touchdowns. In 2015, Barrett scored four or more touchdowns three times. The departure of fellow quarterback Cardale Jones has been extremely beneficial for Barrett. He has doubled his passing production and has done about the same as last year when he runs the ball. Ohio State’s next game is Saturday when the play Michigan State.
Jalen Hurts, quarterback, Alabama: 2,032 yards, 16 touchdowns, 735 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns
The Crimson Tide has been rolling from the start of this season. Alabama is the only Power Five team that is undefeated after it beat Mississippi State 51-3 and Clemson, Washington and Michigan all lost. Alabama’s success has been in large part because of its freshman quarterback. Hurts has been excellent this season. Most other guys on this list are approaching 3,000-yard seasons, but the 2,000-yard season Hurts has had has been exactly what the Crimson Tide needed: an efficient gunslinger who doesn’t put the defense in bad situations. Alabama plays Chattanooga on Saturday.
Oklahoma States’ top candidate
Mason Rudolph, quarterback: 3,384 yards, 24 touchdowns
It’s a shame OSU isn’t a contender because if it were, Rudolph would be in the top five of the Heisman race. Here’s the harsh reality of this award: it rewards good team play along with good individual performance. In the Cowboys’ 45-44 victory over Texas Tech, Rudolph put himself over 8,000 career yards with a 395-yard performance. He also threw two touchdowns and ran for one more. The two touchdowns put him over the 50-touchdown mark for his career. OSU’s next game is Saturday against TCU.