By Seth McCaskill
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State – 138 rushes, 801 yards, nine touchdowns, 36 receptions, 471 yards, three touchdowns
There is no question of who is the best all-round running back in college football, it’s just a matter of whether Saquon Barkley can win the Heisman based on his talent. There was a similar scenario in 2015, where Christian McCaffrey totaled the most all-purpose yards of all time but still lost to Derrick Henry’s dominant rushing stats. Considering what our next candidate has done so far, there could be a nearly identical scenario this year.
Bryce Love, RB, Stanford – 135 rushes, 1,387 yards, 11 touchdowns
It is almost impossible to believe that a running back is averaging nearly 200 yards per game, but Bryce Love is doing it. His chances could be slightly hurt after he missed Stanford’s near upset loss to 1-8 Oregon State, but it is more likely to do the latter. There is an old cliché that real value is shown when a team is missing a player, and I think this was certainly the case with Love. Stanford came into the game averaging 259 rushing yards, but it was held to just 81 by a bad defense. If that doesn’t show how important Love is, I don’t know what will.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma – 2,628 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 72.5 completion rate, four rushing touchdowns
It seems like Baker Mayfield has been the leading preseason Heisman candidate for the last three years, but he has not been able to take one home. There is no doubt he is the best quarterback in the nation, but will that be enough to overtake the running backs? One could certainly argue that he is deserving. You have to do a double take when you see his 72.5 completion percentage, and his ridiculous 11.1 yards per passing attempt leads the nation by a good margin. He is having his best season yet, and he could finally be rewarded.
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State – 2,155 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, one interception, 69.4 completion rate, 88 rushes, 465 yards, five touchdowns
Barrett has sort of flown under the radar as a dark-horse candidate this year, as he seemingly has since arriving at Ohio State. He’s only thrown one interception and is possibly the most balanced dual threat quarterback. His passing numbers took a massive dive last season, but he has resurrected them in a huge way this year. Barrett probably only has an outside shot, but you never know what can happen in these races.
Oklahoma State’s top candidate- Mason Rudolph, QB – 2,866 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, five interceptions, 65.6 completion rate, seven rushing touchdowns
Although Rudolph does not get the recognition that most of these players get, he has to be commended for being the focal point of the nation’s most efficient offense. On top of his insane passing numbers, he has also added seven rushing touchdowns, showing that he can effectively run the read option when asked to. As with Mayfield, Rudolph has improved every season, and this week’s Bedlam game will be an exciting battle of two of the best quarterbacks in the nation.
Rudolph has been a long shot for Heisman all season, but do not let that stop you from marveling at his talent.