Heisman Watch: Championship Week offers one final audition

By Joel Devick

Sports Blogger

@joelyranch3r

 

Only one week in the season remains, and technically, it isn’t even a regular week of games. The three Heisman front runners are all vying to punch their ticket to New York this Saturday with a strong conference championship performance and maybe swing a few first place votes in their favor. Here’s how things stack up.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma – season stats: 247-for-346 4,098 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, 298 rushing yards, five touchdowns

(Devin Lawrence Wilber, O’Colly)

The proverbial and clear-cut favorite, Baker Mayfield looks to bolster his resume Saturday in the first Big 12 Championship game since 2010 against TCU. Oklahoma dominated the first game against the Horned Frogs this season on the arm of Mayfield. With a fiery passion for the game that sometimes boils, Mayfield and his dynamic playmaking ability has led Oklahoma closer to a National Championship than his Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year campaign in 2015. Barring a catastrophic game, Mayfield will be the 82nd winner of the Heisman Memorial Trophy, but stranger things have happened.

Bryce Love, RB, Stanford – season stats: 215 rushes, 1,848 yards, 16 touchdowns

Bryce Love is listed in the Stanford dictionary under “MVP” becausethat is how valuable he has been to the Cardinal in 2017. In the game Love missed because of an injury against one-win Oregon State, the Beavers nearly pulled the upset because of Stanford’s talisman being sidelined. Love is still averaging a fantastic 8.6 yards per carry and has rushed for less than 100 yards in only one game. Stanford will get another shot at USC, which beat the Cardinal earlier this season, in the Pac-12 title game Friday, and if Love can lead the Cardinal to victory while putting up more big numbers, the greatest individual accolade in college football could cap a stellar season.

Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn – season stats: 250 rushes, 1,276 yards, 17 touchdowns

Every year, there is a late-charging candidate for the Heisman that puts his team on his back and wows fans with his performances, when campaigns can be won or lost. Kerryon Johnson has done that with Auburn. Johnson was superb in wins against No. 1 Georgia in Week 11 and last Saturday against No. 1 Alabama. Johnson even passed for a score against the Crimson Tide off a wildcat-jump pass trick play that was shown on numerous highlight tapes. Without Johnson, the Tigers would not be in a rematch for the SEC title with Georgia on Saturday. Although it may be too little, too late in terms of his winning chances, Johnson’s late season heroics may be enough to lead Auburn to the College Football Playoff and get him to the finalist’s stage of the Heisman race.

ozone@ocolly.com

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