Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Louisville: 3,109 yards, 28 touchdowns, 1,367 rushing yards, 19 rushing touchdowns
Jackson didn’t have the greatest performance Thursday night. I would even say it was bad. Houston beat Louisville 36-10, but Jackson threw for 211 yards and one touchdown. Despite Jackson’s first bad game of 2016, he stays atop the list because he has been so far ahead of everyone else. Some people in college football history with similar seasons have been quarterbacks Tim Tebow, Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel. They all won Heisman Trophies. One bad game should not tarnish Jackson’s stellar résumé. Jackson’s final opponent of the regular season is Kentucky. The two teams square off Saturday.
Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Oklahoma: 3,381 yards, 35 touchdowns
Mayfield took over in OU’s 56-28 beat-down of West Virginia. He threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns. The driver of the Sooners’ schooner added two rushing touchdowns. Mayfield did that in his worst game in overall attempts. Mayfield threw only 15 times and ran it five times. The 20 total attempts are tied for the least this season. The other time was earlier this season against Louisiana Monroe. OU has a week off before it faces Oklahoma State on Dec. 3. In last year’s Bedlam matchup, Mayfield threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 77 yards and one touchdown.
Jalen Hurts, quarterback, Alabama: 2,168 yards, 19 touchdowns, 803 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns
Alabama remained the only unbeaten Power 5 team with a 31-3 drubbing of Chattanooga. Hurts led the way for the Crimson Tide with three passing touchdowns and 136 yards. Some people say Hurts is a running back that can throw. Those people are not wrong in that comparison. This week was the fifth straight time Hurts had double-digit rushing attempts and his seventh time achieving it this season. Hurts has exceeded expectations for Alabama and he is only a freshman. He will be in the Heisman conversation in years to come. Alabama and Auburn face off Saturday.
Jake Browning, quarterback, Washington: 2,870 yards, 37 touchdowns
After a bad game against USC, Browning bounced back with 338 yards and two touchdowns in the Huskies’ 44-18 victory against Arizona State. Browning’s season came out of nowhere. In 2015, Browning threw more attempts. This year, he will match or better his production in yardage, but he has already more than doubled his touchdown numbers. In 2015, he threw for 16 touchdowns; this year, he has thrown for 37 with one regular season game left. Washington finishes the regular season with a showdown against Washington State for the Apple Cup on Friday.
J.T. Barrett, quarterback, Ohio State: 2,304 yards, 24 touchdowns, 722 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns
The Buckeyes got lucky to escape East Lansing, Michigan with a 17-16 victory against Michigan State. Barrett didn’t have a good game but managed to lead his team to a victory behind his 191 total yards and one touchdown. Barrett has led the Buckeyes to a consistent spot in the College Football Playoff Rankings, but they could be left out. Because of OSU’s loss to Penn State, the Buckeyes might not make the Big Ten title game and that could dampen its résumé. OSU’s next game is Saturday against Michigan.
Oklahoma State’s top candidate
Mason Rudolph, quarterback: 3,591 yards, 25 touchdowns
Rudolph led the Cowboys to a 31-6 victory against TCU in Fort Worth, Texas in an unusual fashion. Usually, Rudolph guides the offense through the air. This time, he set himself up for a pair of rushing touchdowns. Rudolph was average when he threw the ball, though. He went 17-of-34 for 207 yards and a lone touchdown. Rudolph is still well behind the lead group, but with OSU’s rise in the rankings, Rudolph’s spot in the rankings follows. If, miraculously, the Cowboys get into the top 5, Rudolph could be a serious contender to go to New York and see Jackson hoist the trophy.